07/6/17

On The “Erich Billboard” Stunt

It has only been less than a week since July started but it seems there is one big issue that has pretty much defined this month so far. Yup, we’re talking about that “interesting” billboard that popped up in the Manila skyline recently.

The billboard, located at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Nicanor Reyes (formerly Morayta) Avenue, had an “interesting” premise. An ambitious, even crazy one, some might say. It was depicting a faceless guy holding one of those boxes that would usually contain a ring or necklace but instead contained a coffee bean in this case. Along with it was a message addressed to actress Erich Gonzales, addressing her in her full real name no less, by some guy identified as Xian Gaza saying that he “likes her a latte” (quite overused pun, I say) and asking if he can invite her for coffee.

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07/4/17

A Mexican Connection in Intramuros

Mexico evokes many thoughts and emotions among Filipinos, For some, Mexico is associated with the nationality of many of the opponents boxer Manny Pacquiao faced, such as Juan Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez. For others, it is a country of the telenovelas from which we have come to love people like Thalia and become more fond for cheesy and insane plotlines. And there are those who associate and have grown fond of the country because of its food like the tacos and the burritos.

What many do not realize though is that this appreciation for Mexico goes way, way back. All the way back to November 19/20. 1564, when Spain launched an expedition from its crown colony in Mexico that would finally bring the Philippines under Spanish rule. The expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi would arrive in the country in February 1565, launching Spain’s colonization campaign, capping off with the establishment of Manila as a city and the colony’s capital on June 24, 1571. Continue reading

06/26/17

Manila’s Reclamation Dreams

As Manila recently celebrated its 446th Araw ng Maynila last June 24, it was an opportunity for some to reminisce about Manila’s glorious past while bemoan the city’s sorry state at present. But if you ask the administration of Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, things are going to be great for the city once again.

Of course, we have been hearing this thing before, multiple times in fact to the point of being cynical and pessimistic whether things will be better for Manila. What is new though is Estrada’s plans to make this a reality. And that plan is: reclamation. Lots of it.

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06/20/17

Infra Manila: The Mega Manila Subway Project

With so many infrastructure developments going on in the metropolis, especially in light of the government’s current “Build, Build, Build” program. It is but proper that the Urban Roamer spotlight these projects, whether they are planned, under construction, or completed, and how they have changed/will change the metropolis’ landscape

This article is long overdue. But things got in the way and, originally, the intent was to discuss all the “Build, Build, Build” projects. But as things developed, it made sense to focus on one of the most ambitious projects (if not the most ambitious) in the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration: the Mega Manila Subway.

The idea of a subway in Metro Manila was something being considered for quite a long time as a way to help alleviate the worsening traffic in the metropolis and to help move people faster and easier. But a somewhat firm concept of a subway was conceived with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of its “Dream Plan” for Metro Manila, which was a comprehensive urban development plan to help decongest Metro Manila and improve the connectivity within the metropolis and surrounding areas (which, by the way, the Urban Roamer has touched upon some time ago).

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06/5/17

Fort Santiago in Flux – Part 2

When we talk about Fort Santiago these days, we often associate it with Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero as it was where he was imprisoned, tried, and where he would spend his final hours before his execution on December 30, 1896. While it is a distinction that deserves merit, this often overshadows to the actual importance of Fort Santiago. It was, first and foremost, the military headquarters for Spanish, British (during the 1762-64 occupation of Manila), American, and Japanese forces. As such, for a long while it held a very strategic importance as it was believed that gaining control of the fort provides one the greater advantage of gaining control of all the country.

Even its very name evokes a military heritage, with a bit of Moorish phobia in between. It was named after Santiago Matamoros or St. James the Moor-slayer, the representation of the Apostle St. James the Greater (AKA the brother of St. John) who is venerated in Spain for having said to have helped the Spanish forces defeat the Moors in battle. Considering that Fort Santiago was the site of the old seat of the Muslim-dominated Kingdom of Maynilad, the choice of the fort’s name may have been intentional, perhaps a threat as well to the Filipino Moros who would dare attack Spanish colonial rule, especially in Manila.

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