Manila: The City of Opposites

Manila, the capital city of Republic of Philippines has a rich history of wealth vis-à-vis colonialism. In the sixteenth century, it was the kingdom of Maynila, under the Sultanate of Brunei. Since then, it has successively been rules by colonial rulers like the Spanish, Japanese and Americans which has affected the growth of the city. At present, the city can be described by ‘The City of Opposites’: in the one hand there are skyscrapers, where live the super-rich; on the other hand, the super-poor who live in Smokey Mountain- a slum built on landfill. Both adults and children dig through the garbage for scrap metals,electronic waste etc. for livelihood in Tondo barangay region. Manila is also a city of Super Malls which overshadow the slums of the poor. Almost all barangay hasan SM and the biggest of them, the Mall of Asia is situated opposite Manila Bay, which is the face of pit fire in the continent. One of the best malls is situated at Bonifacio High Street in Fort Bonifacio,which can be reached through a plaza of exquisite restaurants besides low-rise condos. The plaza is covered by lush-green grass and fountains beside which there are high-class boutiques which offer classy European and American labels and designer products. Imported cars like Lamborghinis often speed up the classy roads. In the Pandacan region flows the Beata River- once famous for boat rides which today carries trash to the Pasig when concrete banks prevent pollution to be checked. The bank was once covered by wild grass, fed to work animals like the carabao and the kalesa-puller horses. However, at present, the oil-depot built on this river bank is in close proximity of people’s homes. The pipeline leading tothis oil depot has been found to be leaking oil in the grounds of Makati city in 2010 and till now, it must have leaked millions of litres oil. We can call Manila ‘City of polar opposite’. Wealth and poverty, lush-green vis-à-vis polluted scanty lives are situated side by side. Despite its rich heritage, the present challenging life of most of the people who are struggling to strive through choking smog, while billions of dollars are spent for a few rich people who are growing richer day by day. However, this poverty and pollution are a stiff challenge for the city of Manila to become one of the economic elite cities of the world.