Thursday, May 17, 2007


And so it seems the the Age of Atienza is coming to an end. The fat man in the floral shirt who occupied Manila City Hall for the last ten years must now step down, his three term limit set by the Philippine Constitution of 1987 completed. Not only that, it seems that the mayor's son, Ali, will not be continuing the current agenda, as he is currently losing the race for the top spot to former Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Not that I'm shedding any major tears here. Even though I did work for Manila City Hall as an arts and culture consultant for many years, I do realize that Mayor Atienza had many shortcomings. And even though I liked many of his urban renewal projects (Baywalk, Pasig Riverside, San Andres Market renovation), it cannot be denied that he has been consistently remiss in protecting downtown Manila's precious heritage architecture and that his views on birth control are just short of retarded.

And although I am ready for a new regime and a new vision for the city, unfortunately I don't see Mayor Lim as a better alternative either. Considering the vindictive nature of Philippine politics, my prediction is that Lim will most likely spend his first year in office reversing or shutting down every completed Atienza project, whether that project be good or bad. Once such project that I shall miss will be Rizal Avenue (above). Once a blighted seedy area choked with traffic and vagrants, it was converted to a paved pedestrian promenade and organized vendor alley by Atienza four years ago. Mayor Lim promises to take that all away, remove the pavement and return the vehicles and street vendors in order to pander to jeepney drivers and commuters who are inconvenienced by Rizal Avenue's rerouting scheme. One small step forward for the jeepneys and vendors and one large leap backwards for pedestrians and urban renewal. Not only that, let's not forget Mayor Lim is a member of the opposition. Perhaps we can look forward to more street rallies around the Presidential Palace and all the instability/anarchy that it brings.

Then again, let's see. Ever the optimist, I'd like to believe that Lim may not be THAT unenlightened.

Thank you seafoodcup for the photo.