Disclaimer: the following contents of this entry may contain some “inappropriate” ideas or language, in which the urban roamer apologizes for but deems them necessary for the entry. Be guided accordingly. Thank you!
If you’re a first-time visitor to this part of Manila, to this part of Santa Mesa in particular, you might be surprised to see a row of establishments offering budget accommodations, considering this particular area is not really much of a tourist destination but more of a commercial/residential/education zone of sorts. The area that is come to be known as the “motel row” of Santa Mesa, which, for good or ill, what makes this district stand out from the rest of the city apart from the PUP Campus which incidentally is located nearby.
So why the curious presence of these establishments? You will find out a bit later. First things first though, I have to note there is some sort of a misnomer to the term “motel row” given to this area.
You see if we go with the actual definition of a motel being a “hotel for motorists” (thus the word “motel”) then some of the establishments here do not fit the motel category but more of the “budget hotel” type, with some parking space instead of garages for vehicles to park.
But here in the country, or in the metropolis to be exact, the definition of a “motel” means something else in connotation. Here, the “motel” has become synonymous to a place where couples (doesn’t matter if they’re in a relationship or just some fling) spend a little for privacy and intimacy, you know those things your morally-conscious mother or your church will not approve of.
Truth be told, almost all of these establishments on the Santa Mesa motel row are in the business of primarily catering to, or taking advantage of the need of these people to satiate these desires. Some of them have been there for a long while since the 1980’s. And with all the promotions they’ve set up along the way, and in big bold letters too, it seems these businesses are doing pretty good.
Of course moralists can only be frustrated at all this. Not to mention other people who are genuinely concerned about their proximity to PUP and other schools nearby. In fact they have tried to put a stop to these “short-time stay” offers of these establishments, only to be stopped by the Supreme Court because it is “unconstitutional.”
As ambiguous and debatable as to how the motel in the Philippine setting has affected our culture in any way, there’s no doubt that the “motel culture” here as it’s called has become part of our unique overall Filipino culture. While not as much evident as other aspects of Filipino society, it will be a long shot to get rid of this culture. As for Santa Mesa’s “motel row,” there’s little doubt they will be still be there for a foreseeable future, fulfilling those “special needs” of “intimacy” and “privacy” for some people in the midst of a chaotically colorful city and enriching our city’s unique culture, for good or bad.
© The Urban Roamer