Metro Manila - The Metropolis I Hate And Love All At The Same Time
I spent 6 nights in Manila from June 17 to 22, 2013 to attend a Trainors' Training for the Zuellig Family Foundation's Health Leadership and Governance Program. I was taking the 3:55 PM PAL flight from Bacolod, only it was 20 minutes delayed, so that we departed at 4:30 PM instead. There was some delay in landing and we finally got out of the NAIA terminal 2 just a few minutes before 6 PM. We walked to the taxi stand at the other end of the terminal but there were no taxis as it was raining, not heavily but not stopping either. We finally got one at about 6:40 PM, and the driver asked if we can take the skyway, as traffic was terrible in EDSA and Magallanes. To end a long story...we got to our destination in Makati Avenue which is a short distance of approximately 10-12 kms from the airport more than 3 hours later! I think I kept yawning not so much from low sugar (hunger) but from lack of oxygen (CO2 saturated enclosed space).
|photo retrieved for EastWest Bank Facebook page|
Traffic...this is why I hate Metro Manila! Okay, so it was raining and many parts of Manila were under water and motorists had one idea, taking similar routes to get away from the flooded areas. But 3 hours and so many minutes of sitting in a cramped, enclosed, poor air quality space where you cannot open windows because the rain will come in...is definitely NOT OKAY! It's a good thing I emptied my bladder at the airport! It's not as if I am not used to Manila traffic. I spent 7 years in Metro Manila, studying in UST and living in the Holy Family Dormitory in Gov. Forbes corner Dapitan St., and commuting to Pasay (my maternal grandmother's house) on weekends during my undergraduate years. There was no LRT then and I would wake up early to take the 5:30 AM jeepney ride from Rotunda Taft in Pasay to Laong Laan St. in Sampaloc, Manila. Even then, traffic was already heavy but it was relatively flowing, even in the Quiapo area, and I would be in my dorm by 7 AM in time for morning classes. During the rainy season, floods were expected in areas like the university belt, the whole of Taft up to Libertad but not in Roxas Blvd, Buendia or Quirino. Later on, my brother and I moved to my uncle's house in Quezon City during part of my med school years. I would take the two rides (from Sienna College to Blumentritt to UST) daily for 2 years. Traffic in that area was not as congested as in Pasay. Then the LRT (Pasay Rotunda to Monumento) was built which I believe worsened the traffic and flood situation. Then again, even without rain, traffic in Metro Manila comes to a standstill during certain hours of the day. My family and I were visiting my late grandmother in the late 80's and we decided to go to Makati. We were stuck in traffic a few meters before the Magallanes flyover for nearly 2 hours and by the time we reached Pasay Road, our van's A/C conked out. I developed dehydration fever by noontime. Traffic, flood, polluted air, congestion, criminality and the abject poverty surrounding it makes Manila and it's environs, the most unlikely place for me to visit. In the present tense, my tolerance for Manila living is not more than 5 days...well, if really necessary...maybe 7 days, max!
So why do I even bother to go to Manila? Illogical though it may seem, there are many sides to Metro Manila that makes me yearn for it. First, I must admit that I love going to those beautiful shopping malls where I can find my favorite shops. If I had to rank them according to my standards, top of my list will be Greenbelt 5, 3, 2, 4 and 1, in that order. These are followed (largely depending on what area I find myself staying) by Rockwell Centre, Shangrila Mall, MOA, Robinson's Place Manila and for the Quezon City area, Trinoma. Second, the specialty stores in Malate (with it's musty smell), the museums, historical/heritage places and cultural shows/plays are some of the things I really miss. I also love the trade fairs where one can buy great finds (some rare books) at a lesser cost. Third is Tagaytay...where many dreams are made. For someone like me who is really not into traveling long distances, this is nearest to heaven I can go while alive...a dreamy quiet place that I can find amidst the noise of cities around it. And last but not the least, Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Makati, parts of Parañaque and Mandaluyong are part of my precious memories...I spent many happy summers here as a child and college days as a young adult. My experience of life in the big city is part of who I am now. Even today, I always get a sense of deja vu when I go around the metropolis. I always feel a twinge in my heart when I pass by and remember places that are no longer there. I guess as much as I hate the traffic...Manila will always have that special place in my life, after all...I was born here.