10 Ways to Make Metro Manila More Livable
Metro Manila isn’t exactly on the top of the list of places we’d want to live in. No one goes around saying, “Oh, I want to live in Metro Manila.” Those who do usually come from the provinces looking for jobs, expecting the grass to be greener. Well, not only is the grass not green, it is dry, brown, and weeded. At best, Metro Manila is bustling, exotic, and lively. At its worst, it’s grimy, polluted, and crowded.
Let’s face it. Metro Manila is not livable. Proper urban planning takes a backseat to greed and half-baked ideas that are more concerned with time (and money) rather than results.
Frankly, what do politicians know about making Metro Manila livable? These pedigreed lawmakers spend their days in chauffeured cars and mansions, never having to ride the MRT during rush hour or look for affordable rent. If we want change, it’s the common man who knows what needs to be improved.
Here are 10 ways to make Metro Manila more livable:
10. Mid-rise buildings
Mid-rise buildings will solve sky-high rents, informal settling, and general crowding in Metro Manila. By providing families a home in mid-rise buildings with flexible payment schemes in major business districts, it gives affordable housing options for employees and stops informal settlers from settling in places that could become health and fire hazards later on. Adding mid-rise buildings means more space to add parks, shops, and other recreational spaces.
9. Small businesses
Small businesses offer something big chains don’t. Personalized service and choices. Small bookshops, cafes, and restaurants are more intimate, and offer more chances for discovery. Fastfood chains offer the same food with the same flavor wherever you go, while a family-owned restaurant will have dishes with a unique flavor and an age-old recipe. The same goes with other establishments. Sometimes businesses can be so generic that small mom ‘n pop operations add soul to a bustling impersonal city.
8. Public art
Public art adds character to a city. Public art transforms a cold concrete-and-steel city into something that has life. And nothing inspires and uplifts a boring morning commute than a well-placed artwork. Sadly, art and culture is usually an afterthought in Metro Manila. But things are changing. If you’ve seen the murals at the Ayala Avenue underpass and the large-scale artwork before you go up the bridge to Mantrade in EDSA’s northbound lane, you have to admit that it adds a certain edge and color to an otherwise urban city. And what would you rather see when you look out the window on your commute home during rush hour? A blank concrete wall along EDSA or a colorful montage?
The appeal of parks is that you don’t have to spend money, unlike malls where you have to spend to sit and hang out. All you need to do is find a bench or a spot under the shade to get the party started. If you remember your science, plants and trees are beneficial because they clean the air and produce the oxygen we need to survive. And really, aren’t dates more fun when you’re surrounded by nature? And when people are in parks, less people are at malls.
No one seems to recognize the power sidewalks hold. Sidewalks encourage people to walk, thus reducing traffic (and smog) and increasing fitness. Wide sidewalks give commuters the chance to better appreciate the city, and see sights they normally wouldn’t see in a fast-moving vehicle. These sights include parks, trees, small businesses, and art. See how everything connects? What we have now are narrow sidewalks where walkers have to fight their way with other walkers and sidewalk vendors, that we’re more concerned about our safety than the beauty around us.
5. More trees
As steel, glass, and concrete are slowly dominating the city, it’s nice to add a little green to streets and thoroughfares. Imagine what the city would look like if we added pinks, yellows, reds, and purples? Trees and flowers add life to a boring sea of gray, and makes us stop to smell the roses. Literally.
Cities have to get their people to stay. Right now, Makati is the center of everything. But imagine if we have celebrations in all cities. If we had film festivals, parades, and fiestas, we wouldn’t even need to go out of our city. It might even encourage people from other cities to visit!
3. A sense of culture
It’s great that the Philippine economy is improving. However, our urbanization means we are becoming part of what architect Rem Koolhaas has called “generic cities.” They’re cities that are built the same that they become… generic. The Philippines is rich in culture and we should use that to our advantage. We should preserve heritage sites, rebuild historic art deco buildings and repurpose them, and use Filipino traditional items in building new infrastructure. Metro Manila is rich in culture. Let’s turn Metro Manila into a global capital with a local flavor.
The crime in Metro Manila is crazy, and the simplest way to address that is to increase security. This means adding more police outposts in major avenues, as well as in the smaller streets. But more outposts don’t mean a thing if the policemen are inefficient, so we’re also adding friendly, productive, and greed-free policemen who can actually catch the bad guys and make us feel safe while we cross the footbridge at night.
1. Alternative routes for transportation
The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown once called Manila “the gates of hell.” He must have been in EDSA (assuming he was referring to Metro Manila) on a Friday night, in the rain, on payday weekend. Because that’s how it feels like to be in EDSA during rush hour. And then we wonder, why is everyone fighting for space in this single road? Manila would be more livable if we used alternative routes for public transportation. Have EDSA buses go through cities instead of driving through the entire 54 kilometer road. Let smaller vehicles like jeeps and FX’s go through smaller roads instead of plying through main roads. The only way to ease congestion is to spread out the vehicles instead of lumping them in a major thoroughfare.
What other ways can we make Manila more livable? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
10 Ways to Make Metro Manila More Livable