The Shabby Scenes from the Airport Terminals
and the Derelict Intramuros and Liwasang Bonifacio
By Apolinario Villalobos
The problem with the Department of Tourism is that, while it promotes touristic destinations in the countryside, it forgot Manila which is supposed to be the gateway. The agency is proud of the oceanic theme park at the back of the Luneta grandstand and also the “dancing fountain”. But those can be found anywhere as they have become ordinary fixtures of parks, with some provinces even having more picturesque and enticing dancing fountains. The tourism people seem blind to the shabby scenes from the airport terminals that surely catch the eyes of incoming tourists on their way to their hotels along Roxas Boulevard and Makati Business Center.
From the Terminal 1 and 2 for instance, what catch the eyes are big bill boards and ramshackle shanties of barangay Pildera. The patroness of air voyage looks forlorn with the neglected shrubs at the base of its pedestal. Trees that line the street are untrimmed. Pieces of garbage dot the ground with wilting grass due to neglect. From Terminal 3, the same monotonous view greets the visitors as they drive down Andrews Avenue toward Baclaran and Tramo. From terminal 4, the short distance to Airport Road of Baclaran is worst, especially, as one exits towards Roxas Boulevard, with both sides of the street lined with run-down beerhouses.
The clusters of modern edifices that are filling the reclaimed Manila bay are being developed by owners of the business establishments, themselves who are mostly foreigners. In this regard, the Department of Tourism has no right to claim the credit for the fast transition of the once grassy reclaimed land.
Intramuros at the northwest terminus of Roxas Boulevard is supposed to be the historical showcase of the city, together with Liwasang Bonifacio or Lawton Plaza. Unfortunately, both are awful disappointments. What makes Intramuros interesting a bit, are just the presence of Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and some of its streets lined with old houses that are not even refurbished to improve their antiquated facades. What worsen the disappointing landmark are the filthy skeletons of neglected government buildings and stinking nooks of the once formidable walls and their imposing bastions.
Liwasang Bonifacio’s conspicuous landmarks are the Post Office Building and the fountain behind the statue of Andres Bonifacio. But the grounds are always littered with refuse. The public toilet is perpetually closed and has become the abode of vagrants. The police precinct under the flyover lacks decency in appearance, though, fairly clean. The vacant lots have become dumping grounds for practically everything. The once glorified Metropolitan Theater because of its exquisite beauty is now an eyesore. Entrances and exits to the underpasses are lorded over by vagrants and rugby-sniffing street urchins. Ironically, the Manila City Hall, is just several meters away!
Several years ago, a foreign student blogged the dirty public toilets that stink due to the absence of water, with cracked and grimy tiles, lack of tissue paper, doors without lock, and lack of lighting fixtures. Instead of being thankful, the government reacted negatively, threatening the poor student with deportation unless he apologized publicly which he did, when all he wanted was just to call the attention of the negligent government agencies, particularly the Department of Tourism and concerned local government units.
And now, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is located in a busy section of Makati, and housed in a building – far from the people that it is supposed to assist. Its location can be accessed with much difficulty due to heavy traffic along the way. The agency should have made use of common sense in relocating itself within the “tourist belt” to serve its purpose with propriety. If the DOT is renting and how much, I dare not say more…