I am a daily commuter and the hustle and bustle of Manila has been but a staple sight.

But the Philippine capital is polluted and grimy, chaotic and unruly, crime-infested and foul-smelling.

Spain made Manila the capital because of its natural endowments; it is, for one, a natural harbor; its centrality is in the vast archipelago is an inherent advantage. The Walled City of Intramuros is testament to brilliant Spanish colony-building, the majesty of its European architecture still somehow shining through despite the grime of the Port Area and the bedlam of much of what is around it.

Yes, Manila the capital is bedlam. It is as Dan Brown calls in it in his shallow potboiler, Inferno, “the gates of Hell.”

But funny, lately, the gates of Hell get flooded.

Now who is really to blame for the decay of Manila? Is it the government or the people?

New Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has promised to banish the notorious stereotype of Manila as a decaying capital by resolving its waste problem.

In 2011, a study by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ National Solid Waste Management Commission showed that about 8,400 to 8,600 tons of trash per day are collected.

Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno have promised a better system of garbage collection and solid waste management.

But they’re under pressure to deliver quick results since there are moves to transfer the capital elsewhere.

Senate bill No. 655 has been filed and it aims to transfer the capital of the Philippines.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes, author of the bill, said that his proposal is timely since Manila is sinking and fast decaying. It is often submerged in floods, he added. It is also teeming with informal settlers and is an embarrassment before tourists and the international community.


Under the bill, a committee composed of three commissioners appointed by President Benigno Aquino III would conduct a comprehensive study of relocating the capital.

It may be true that Manila shows a bad image for the Philippines. But it has its assets.

I, for one, see no other city as a perfect mixture of historical and cultural heritage, of urbanity, progress, and development, or lack of it.

To transfer the capital to the booming city of Taguig or the booming Wall Street that is Makati may be sugarcoating the reality. To be sure, as far as Philippine history is concerned, progress and poverty come together, and Manila best embodies both.

Moreover, there was a time when Manila was replaced by Quezon City as administrative capital. But Manila was later made again the capital because of its obvious cultural and historical value, aside from its economic and political centrality.

Needless to say, what the government needs to focus on is not the relocation of the capital but alleviating its condition.

A band-aid solution is mere panacea. Manila is obviously the Philippine capital, by virtue of history and heritage. But it has deteriorated because of mismanagement and corruption. Obviously Manila needs to be re-envisioned.


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