Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Vision of a Beautiful City.

In a song, they say that you can live anywhere in the world, if you have lived in New York. I beg to disagree, I think that you have to live in Manila for you to survive in any other part of the earth.

Anyway, my latest entry is inspired by some of the best cities in the world. I am scouring the web for the most inspirational places. My mind lately is dominated by the thought that if ever Manila will have the weather of Baguio, we are going to take the lead in SEA.

I believe that our warm weather has a contribution to our laxity and makes Filipinos to be one hypertensive-prone nation. My vision of a city is a city full of people, busy, with urgency but with a hint of confidence and security. A city free of worry, clean and artsy, inviting and engaging.

We need a city that will make us think, imagine, wander and debate. I think Manila lacks some avenue for the art :( (I may be wrong as I haven't fully explored the city and there might be hidden places where art is present). But I am not referring to the underground. What I envision is a city that tickles our imagination, erases our hopelessness and gives us always a positive kick to start our daily habit.

The Philippines is a beautiful nation, Filipinos are the most charismatic people in the world. Its inherent natural beauty is other nation's envy. Our culture is one of the most diverse and plural in the galaxy.

I would love to see Philippines look beyond the simple things and turn the city into a beautiful scenery. Our cities lack icons and historical representations. For some reason, we are losing (or rather we really don't have) our identity and our legacy is in the brink of extinction.

Minus the depressing state of politics during the 1970's and 1980's and the prevalent corruption, crime and cruelty, Philippines has been touted as the dark horse of Asia already during those era (well, economy critics finally have started to recognize us again recently). With Imelda Marcos' passion for grandeur and extravagant beauty, I can't help but admire her (but only her incessant desire to beautify the country and put Philippines in the global headlines.) The creation of various architectural triumphs such as CCP and PICC is something that we have already forgotten.

Our nation needs new breeds of creative thinkers, artists, visionaries and idealists. This country desperately needs a makeover and the people need an extreme dose of discipline.

The Fort - The Modern City

The best thing about Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is that it is new. The terrain is plain, it has no depressing roadblocks, the land area is purely open for architectural visions. I hope BGC will continue modernizing itself. Creation of new structures and infrastructures can provide jobs and can potentially contribute to the rise of emerging middle-class. BGC can be our answer to Singapore, Hongkong or Dubai.

We need more links to major gateways and airports. When I went to Bangkok, I was amazed by the sight of flyovers and highways. The route from the Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok is smooth and easy.

Going to BGC from NAIA - 3 will only take less than 30-minutes and we need a major highway for that.

I hope BGC can think of another Mind Museum. When I heard about the creation of it, I was like "Finally!". We need to add more properties in our tourism portfolios. Why not a modern Museum for the Contemporary Art or a new 5,000-seating capacity Theater for Broadway musicals or major events such as award-giving ceremonies, pageants and concerts.

Only thing, BGC seems to have no love for trees, the city despite it's modern feel, should not fully neglect that a beautiful city is a "sustainable city"

Can we put more fountains in this place?

Manila as the Cultural Forefront

Manila has this inherent cultural charisma. It is Manila where we see Intramuros, the Luneta Park, Malacanang Palace. Manila is the seat of power, and the city must exude POWER. But regretfully Manila has decided to brand itself as dark and gloomy. It has an appealing charm, but going here can be scary sometimes.

I hope Manila should start cleaning its own mess. Before you start judging me as unpatriotic, please try to listen to my ideas first. Our cities are dirty, just like almost every city in the world. There is no perfect city, but our nation seems to have an infatuation and love-hate relationship with garbage.

For the love of our country, before you start arguing on RH Bill debates, can we focus first on more depressing issues that affect the population directly - sanitation and hygiene.

When you go to Manila, the walls are painted with SOGO ads, Tubero spams, Wanted Yaya boo-boos, and even job listings. The menace of each election period is embedded and permanently stamped on almost every electrical posts, telephone cabinets, private walls, and even in major government structures. I implore our politicians to please consider the impact of pasting posters in city corners and how it makes our city ugly and disgusting. I think there must be a law banning that, and if there is one already, please enforce MAXIMUM enforcement.

Please refurbish the National Museum, please take the help of the country's major PR and advertising firms to re-brand the depressing state of what could be one of our cultural icons and tourist destination. I saw that Manila Bay and Baywalk are undergoing some renovations as of this writing. Please, surprise us.

Please make Intramuros the most beautiful remnants of our history once more. I have no qualms towards the proliferation of residents within the walled city, but make more mechanisms to stop them from attracting more settlers and potentially making unwarranted changes in the architectural designs of the walled city. The administration need to fix the roads, the lightings of the streets are bland and potentially inviting nightmares rather than tourists.

The Taft Avenue - I don't know, it needs a genius to come up with a grand idea on how to beautify this strip of forgotten place.
Quiapo was way more inviting and attractive before.
Less is More in Baywalk. Agree that it is better this way than now?
If I will be elected as the mayor of the city, I would lobby that tarpaulins will be banned without the approval of the city's aesthetics department. No banners and lousy graphic ads. Every display of publicity must come to the eye of an art expert first. #dreamingmuch

Where have all our architects gone? Where are our great engineers and interior designers?
Guess what, they are in POEA and picking up job orders in Dubai, Hongkong or Saudi. The great migration is not in Africa and involving birds, it is here in the Philippines and our manpower is moving out.

A City that never sleeps, Makati should be a city of hope and dreams

What is a business district that looks like an old city with no signs and stocks figures?

Makati actually has a stocks marquee and is located in Insular Life building. Makati should be the capital of capitalism. Makati is the premier destination for business. Makati needs industrial lights, haute-couture ads, or should I say, Makati should be a shopping mall for business. Makati is our Manhattan. We need moving ads, modern underpass, state of the art pedestrians, outstanding walkways and awesome lights. We need to see more young professionals walking and strutting the runway (in the business kind of way).

Malls should be vibrant and should not be closed by 9PM. 

In the city that trades billions of pesos every day, people must also feel that they are actually in the business capital of the country.

The airport must be kick-ass pretty or else.

Have you been to Changi airport lately or in Suvarnabhumi? You have to admit that our airport sucks. Bureaucracy is prevalent, corruption is indelibly rooted in some officers and taxi drivers. The airport administration must be able to see this, stop this and make airport the first impression of the nation. Does it take a mind of a rocket scientists for the airport officials to realize that we have the worst airport in the world.

Our airport, must be beautiful, cozy, comfortable and modern. No more arguments.

A solution to informal settlers - low cost housing and vertical solutions

I am not an expert on this, but I hope that the government will spend some time and budget in coming up with low-cost housings, in vertical structures, to address the increasing numbers of informal settlers in the country.

I have a problem with the debate over population, but I believe that the total number of people is the root cause of poverty, but rather that unequal distribution of wealth and resources, as well as unorganized and poor urban planning and weak response to population density.


Wow, I'm tired already, but these are just some of my critical ideas I would like to share. Every time I go to work, while commuting and observing the different sections of the city, I can't help but imagine ideas and possible remedies to our country's lack of aesthetics, discipline and big visions.

I hope to continue coming up with more ideas and concepts on how to make Philippines the preferred tourist destination in Asia.


NEXT STOP. My vision of Pasay. The Diosdado Macapagal as our direct answer to Las Vegas. And what should we focus more on, Museums or Coliseums?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

OSCAR FEVER: Countdown to Academy Award

In addition to being my birth month, February is obviously my favorite because of several highlight events happening during the love month. We have the Valentines, the Grammys and of course...The Academy Awards. Since college I'm hooked to this annual celebration of Hollywood's best motion pictures and I always make it a point that I get to watch every single film nominated for Best Picture. I am not a film buff but I love watching movies that either drives me crazy or makes me shed a bucket of tears.
There is one thing that makes this year's Academy and it's quite an observation I must say. I don't know if it was a coincidence but most of the nominated films start with word "THE".

The Help, The Artist, The Descendants, The Tree of Life, The Iron Lady, The Ides of March....

But nonsense, I don't think the word THE has made a difference, but anyway, I did the usual stroll to Metrowalk and find my favorites.

So I bought Meryll Streep's Iron Lady, Midnight in Paris (starring Owen Nilson), The Descendants (starring George Clooney), The Help (of course Octavia and Viola), War Horse (Spielberg is back), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (starring James Bond and Rooney Mara) and Spartacus (well, pardon, it's not part of the nominees, slip of the tounge).

SO, I'm going to give my review of the first two movies I got to watch -- The Iron Lady and The Help. Such pretty titles.

Let's start with Meryll. You don't need a dictionary to describe this talented lady, you have to use the best definitions available at the tip of your tounge (fantabulous, superb, tumultuous, cantankerous...). Meryll is very technical, her background is more in theater and this woman has serious talent. She is indeed the best living actress of this generation. On her trophy rack is two (2) Oscars, eight (8) Golden Globes,  two (2) Emmys, a Tony Award, a BAFTA award and 2 SAG (Screen Actors Guild). Beat that.

How did I find her acting in The Iron Lady. It was mastered, her acting has been studied well and she delivered it. The wink, the pout of Margaret Tatcher's lips, the walk and the eyes, every detail is well-crafted. She has taken us once again into a character we haven't seen for quite some time. She made the unfamiliar figure of Margaret Tatcher familiar to us with her precise acting.

So technical it was that I felt that she missed the emotional part of the character. I didn't get the chance to see the essence of Margaret's grueling desire to rise into power that eventually caused her demise. But she did actually, maybe it was the story that didn't deliver that much. So it wasn't Streep's entire fault, she gave an exceptional and award-winning performance but the story could have done better.

I won't rate. I am not an expert. Don't judge me.


The Deadly Duo - Octavia and Viola

I'm so excited. I looooove this film. Though I think Emma Stone wasn't very convincing for Skeeter's role (a thriving writer who dared to break the stereotypes and raise awareness on the racism that prevails during the 1960s). I would love to see Natalie Portman having the role.

But anyway, to continue, the movie has reduced me to tears. Lady Octavia and Viola delivered a fantastic performance. The rawness and their acting was deeply affecting. The antagonist(s) (yes, Bryce Dallas Howard was good :), and so is Sissy Spacek (she is back people).

The final minutes blew me away, when Aibileen was fired and she held the little girl and muttered her quote: You is Kind, You is Smart and You is Important. Oh mother, I swear, it was the most heart-wrenching part of the movie.

I'll shut up now and will watch the next movies. The first two, good! Can't wait to see the rest...