Where I Live In

It’s weird thinking of the progress happening within your community. My mom kept on asking why she wasn’t getting as much students for her dormitory the other day. That made me think of what were the developments within the streets of Malate for the past 20 years.

I’ve only recalled half of my lifetime being really aware on what was going on within our vicinity. There were sari-sari stores and degraded houses. But there were also decent houses to begin with. Malate was a decent place to live in. There wasn’t much noise going around at night back in the days. There weren’t strip clubs, night clubs, nor bars. I wasn’t aware of the universities’ existence like St. Paul Manila and University of the Philippines, Manila back then. For me, the streets I lived in was a safe place to walk across when I need to meet my grandparents or family friends we had to meet within the day. But it was kind of risky to walk the streets at night because of the high-crime rate during those hours. My mom just put up her business renting rooms to Med students.

Then things changed. Night life grew more aggressive than ever. Robinson’s Place, Ermita was recently constructed. There weren’t empty buildings anymore but more bars. It was pretty much commercialized and my mom was much happy about it. Fewer crimes because there were more lights within our vicinity. The inflow of students inquiring and renting our apartments and rooms was enough. We were getting income.

As we know, the streets’ atmosphere aren’t the only things that change. The mayors handling Manila switch in and out as well. There was Fred Lim and Lito Atienza switching for the position. During their eras, they handled things differently from one another. It then became clear that their method of leading the City of Manila were different. Fred Lim was the one who promised more decency among the streets while Lito Atienza emphasized building more statues and buildings to bring back the ‘Maynila Pride’. We pretty much felt the changes and the Barangay Chairmans we know pretty much did as well.

When elections came last Monday, there was a much heated argument going around the barangays. Who to vote for the upcoming elections? Razon? Atienza? Lim? Razon was a new challenger in the arena. Maybe it would be between Atienza and Lim still. They both have their pros and cons but before voting, we must look back what has happened to the community we once started our lives.

Present

Today, left and right, it’s pretty sure you would not miss seeing a newly constructed building. New condominiums and commercial buildings clogging up the city network of Malate, Manila. I’m not complaining of the heat it brings nor will I point fingers of them trying to lose our source of income. Competition is a good thing but the realty estate is too much far-fetched a common idea for the Filipino people. In a month or so, you wouldn’t be surprised that another new building will rise and compete with your market.

What bothers me is that why create those buildings when the area could not even solve the homeless issue. Yes, more people come to our area and find a place to live in – students, employees, doctors, nurses, etc. People who live in our area are also a different bunch just like the other areas or cities. What I forgot to tell you is that our vicinity isn’t all about buildings as well. At the back of our street, a growing population of the homeless urban poor is trying to cope up with the changes going on through the years.

Future leaders tell us, we will resolve squatter areas or the urban poor. But the leakage of the urban poor’s homes doesn’t end in San Andres Street. They have began to live the dirty streets of Malate. Dirty because many things unpleasant are also going on within these streets during the wee hours. During the said work hours, one would not fail to see the homeless families living outside the bars with the stray dogs finding food for themselves as well.

May kinabukasan tayong lahat? Meron nga ba? National Elections may have just ended but I guess, being too dependent on them trying to solve our problems wouldn’t do as much progress unless we act as responsible citizens. We may even take away our identity as Filipinos. This is me, talking about preferential option for the poor. The poor can take many forms and being the urban poor and the homeless would be one of them. Another could be the lack of education going around the country.

The other day, I saw a street cleaner falling in line with us as we waited for our time to vote. It was a pretty exciting thing to start my day – to vote. What struck me wasn’t his order or his shabby beard. I wasn’t even disgusted by his over-all appearance and the attitude he gave to the poll watcher as he complained on the slow system. I saluted him. I saluted him because of his anticipation for the elections. He is entitled by our system as one of those people in Class D/E or the uneducated but he gave me hope. He was able to vote. Now, other people I know whom I believe have the brains to debate whom to vote for, weren’t even registered to begin with. Mas bilib ako sa street cleaner sa harap ko kaysa sa mga kaibigan ko. Buti pa siya, may pag-asa pa. Sayang lang na hindi siya binigyan ng pagkakataon makapag-aral. Education isn’t a pretty scene in our country when you come to think of it besides of the growing poor community.

At the end of the day, we complain about our day or maybe even about our life. My mom complains about our business. I even worry about it as well because it is the source of income for my current education. But there are greater things to worry about and I’m just hoping that change could start within us and not wait for it to happen from our leaders.

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