The Blog and Tour Schedule of Carlos Celdran. A man who is trying to change the way you look at Manila - one step at a time. Telephone: (02)4844945 Text/Cell:(0920)9092021 or Email:

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.



Blogger Urbano dela Cruz said...

my fears exactly, carlos. (Methinks Lim believes running a city is all about law and order, crime and punishment.)

That's what you get when urban redevelopment is driven only by the agenda of elected officials. The only way to drive robust renewal is to create a citizen-led coalition (emphasis on the coalition) that can come together with a shared vision for the city.

To get there, we need to foster the conversation on the future of our cities.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous acidboy said...

I agree, Carlos.

Lito Atienza may have questionable taste in the aesthetics, but at least he did something. Alfredo Lim has done nothing and gave nothing in his time, so why should we expect him to do something different? Has spray painting houses decrease- by even 1 damn percent drug use in Manila? Has his way of dealing with peace and order in his time made walking past Quiapo safe? Has he being close friends with the private garbage collecting contractor during his time made Manila cleaner then? Lim is a dinosaur, way past his prime, way past his usefulness. I dread writing this as some family members know him personally, but that is the truth. Expect Manila to become the model of urban blight in the next few years.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we have Alfredo Lim's email or office address for that matter,so we could petition him regarding our urban concerns now that he's back in power?.

Indio Bravo
Alex E.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous jeremy said...

I'm really disappointed Lim won...I never even thought he would still win...since I don't think he did well during his tenure as Manila mayor...I was looking forward to either Ali or Lacuna winning the mayoralty race...

Hopefully, somehow, Lim would appreciate everything good LA did for the city...and not reverse everything his predecessor did...

6:41 PM  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

I know. I'm scared of undergoing the times of Lim again. Lots of grandstanding dramatic gestures (like spraypainting druglords houses and confronting whores) but very little tangible urban renewal efforts and sustainable physical improvements or maintenance of the City.

Sigh. I really hope I'm wrong.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Sidney said...

As a guest in your country I can't say much. I really don't understand why the people of Manila elected someone like Mr.Lim to be their next mayor.
But then… you guys deserve the politicians you elect! :-(

PS. I can hardly imagine that Lim's views on birth control will be more enlightened!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Urbano dela Cruz said...


Torn has a take on why he thinks Lim won.

I'm too far away to validate Torn's ideas but I do think that Carlos is on point that we mostly see "law and order" as the primary urban issue.

Why? Because no one (at least in the mainstream media) is talking about urban planning or urban revitalization. Check out the so-called "Metro" pages in our broadsheets. Nothing but crime stories.

Our work is definitely cut out for us.


9:47 PM  
Blogger gibbs cadiz said...

hi mr. celdran, sorry off-topic, but mind trading links? you're in my blogroll now. :)

4:40 AM  
Blogger BAS NAVARRO said...

I'm sorry but Rizal Avenue is teeming with hookers/prostitutes at night. Mr. Atienza may have given these people venue for their flesh trade...Try passing by in that area 8pm onwards and you'll see. The picture of the place you uploaded above is soo misleading!

9:53 AM  
Blogger Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

what will lim do? build giant jails along baywalk maybe? great!

3:05 PM  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

Bas, the picture was taken in daytime. Rizal Avenue really looks like that in daytime. It isn't misleading at all.

And Im pretty sure the hookers will still be there even if we remove the pavement and open it up to vehicles.

I would rather have hookers there with pavement and streetlamps between them than hookers with jeepneys and smoke inbetween them, no?

And Im sorry. I am all for having a red light district. I say regulate and tax the red light district. That way the industry does not go underground. It's when prostitution becomes taboo and invisible when all the clandestine abuses become difficult to monitor. Philippine puritanical quasi Christian views towards prostitution is really hypocritical can really do more harm than good when it comes to this issue.

5:16 PM  
Blogger john marzan said...

sana iba naman ang approach ni dirty harry. sana may vision siya sa siyudad natin aside from his usual "law and order" schtick niya.

eniwey. eto binoto ko sa nakaraang eleksyon.

lacuna, moreno, angping, nixon kua.

4:23 AM  
Blogger john marzan said...

hi mr. celdran, sorry off-topic, but mind trading links? you're in my blogroll now. :)

sorry, pero taga inquirer ka. hindi na nagbabasa ng inquirer si carlos dahil maka-opposition ang PDI.

kung maka arroyo ka baka pwede pa.

4:26 AM  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

Haha. Yeah. Perhaps it could have helped. But in the spirit of unity, Sure Gibbs! You are on my roll.

6:16 AM  
Blogger john marzan said...

eto lang ang suggestion ko kay dirty harry para walang gulo:

1) wag niyang guluhin o ipa-raid ang dvd center sa quiapo (hidalgo, arlegui). big mistake kung ipasara niya ito.

2) Wag nyo nang ipa-bukas pa ang Rizal Avenue for the vehicles. It's one of the best things Atienza did for this city of ours.

3) alagaan ng mabuti ang mga underpass na ipinaayos at nilinis ni mayor atienza (Lacson upass etc.)

1:11 PM  
Blogger gibbs cadiz said...

thanks for the link! :)

3:28 AM  
Blogger Bino/Geno said...

Talaga. Nakakatakot siya. Gosh.

Magmumukang military camp ang maynila. Without any art.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous alejandro said...

I think results from votes are not that valid, even if it was a public vote. It's all too easy especially now, to change the results - any kind of election or any country. It would not be surprising. It's just the right to vote, but they still have their say in the end.

8:13 PM  
Blogger ivanhenares said...

At the Heritage Conservation Society, feedback is the opposite. Many of the members, including myself, are happy with Lim's win at the polls. I'd pick Lim over an Atienza anytime.

10:06 PM  
Blogger ivanhenares said...

This just arrived in the HCS YahooGroup: Mayor Lim has now been proclaimed. I saw an article in Manila Bulletin today on Mayor Lim's plans (page 4, bottom). I can't find an online version of it though. The title reads:

Lim to Focus on Tourism, Historic Sites
by Roy C. Mabasa

So there you have it folks!

10:48 PM  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

I hope so.

I really do.

Thanks for the hopeful note, Ivan. Could you tell him not to completely rip apart Avenida Rizal though.

Opening it up to vehicles would really be regressive in the quest to reclaim public spaces.

8:18 AM  
Blogger categorically imperative said...

Well, at least Lim and Atienza agree on birth (out of) control. fred lim

3:06 PM  
Blogger carlotta said...

i still have to see what lim will do for manila this time before i say anything. but then again, the promenade is teeming with a lot of tambays even in the daytime so maybe it would be good if he would take them away instead.

8:16 AM  

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