WHO IN the metropolis is not familiar with the colorful lampposts that allegedly cost us, the taxpayers, at least twice or thrice the average cost of a streetlight? In every street (or alley) of the metropolis, one will find a streetlamp either with colorful lights or the initials of a top city official engraved on it. It would be fine if these actually serve their purpose, but most of these expensive street lamps either don't work or emit so little light that it would have made no difference if they were not there. What makes things worse is that they have now become an advertising platform for politicians.
I have nothing against lighting up the city streets. I commend the city officials for their commitment to making the city safer. But there are factors to consider before anyone decides what type of lampposts to put up in certain locations. I don't know if it's my fondness for history and heritage preservation or it's just plain common sense, but wouldn't it be much better if the nation's capital were lit up by colonial-style lamp posts? These would be black steel posts with a single or a pair of yellow-orange lights enclosed in a glass cap.
Here's the picture: Say, you are strolling down Rizal Park at night and you get to the monument of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. You are standing just a few meters away from the monument, enough to see it with the Philippine flags waving grandly beside it. What would you rather see lighting up the area surrounding this national memorial, colonial-style lampposts or multi-colored ones?
If we are trying to make Manila the world's "City of Lights," we can do it without the funky lights and the mayor's initials or a wide variety of street light designs and colors. If we want to make our leisure districts look like fabulous Las Vegas, giant diamond-shaped street lights are not the answer.
To set the record straight, I am not completely against having colorful lights in our streets. There are places where they fit perfectly, like the Manila Baywalk. Those large balls of light make the place look festive, and encourage tourism and commercial activity. However, since the addition of new lights in the area, it now looks awful.
The problem goes beyond the bright lights and alleged corruption. The utter disregard for the city's rich heritage brought about by four foreign colonizers – the Spaniard, the British, the Japanese and the Americans – has a greater effect on our city than anything else.
Take the Paco Station, for example. It was partially demolished years ago to make way for the construction of yet another shopping center. I know very little about the details behind the project, but I'm pretty sure there were under-the-table arrangements. Our railway system may have been practically defunct then, and a large station deemed unnecessary. But that doesn't diminish the importance of the grand edifice and justify sending in the bulldozers. Looking back to the days when the Americans were planning the city, one would understand the great significance the planners placed on this station. Just as the Union Station in Washington, D.C. was designed as the gateway to the capital of the United States, so was the Paco Station planned to serve a similar function. Surely it was not just coincidence that the site plan for the two stations looked similar. Both had a grand railway station located on a major road fronted by a semi-circular park, just blocks away from major government buildings.
This problem is not confined to the capital alone. It is a national problem that has always been relegated to the sidelines. One by one, the structures that complete the puzzle of our nation's history are reduced to rubble. What horror it would be to wake up one day and find that none of them had survived simply because we never cared.
The first step towards solving this problem is to summon the resolve to safeguard our cultural heritage. We ought to realize that the loss of these historical sites means not simply the loss of landmarks and tourist attractions or of economic activities and revenues, but a far greater loss that cannot be compensated: the loss of our identity.
Justin David N. Tan, 17, is a sophomore at the University Of Santo Tomas College Of Architecture.
Call center people
By Luhje Altavano
I NEVER thought I would ever work as a call center agent. But here I am trying to sneak in this blog.
It is 3 a.m. Sunday. If people are probably not checking on us so there is no one closing the unauthorized sites we have opened (mostly Multiply and Friendster). Kiko, our trainer, is bombarding us with advice on what to do if a client calls and complains about something, which is all crap. I think my head is going to pop.
You may have heard that this job sucks. You sit in a cubicle for hours, entertaining calls from people from Mars who complain about a bad service. They call you a loser, they tell you that you suck and say a lot of other things that really try your patience. So if you don't want somebody to yell at you and blame you for things you are not really responsible for, then never ever work as a call center agent.
But you know what, the best thing about call centers are the people you meet. You get to now them during coffee breaks or during lunch. Different people. Different attitudes. Different backgrounds. Different stories. One is engaged but doesn't really want to get married. Another earns added income from playing chess. There are many single parents here. Somebody has turned looking at the butt of other people into a sport. And there are other types.
Other people might say we suck. I may be called stupid for leaving a good college record to work in a call center. But this is the path I chose and I am enjoying what I have at the moment. I have good people here, and good memories, too. I have happy coffee breaks. And does anyone have more fun-filled lunch breaks than us? Just the thought of such happy company and fun moments is enough compensation for the yelling, the lack of sleep, the abnormal eating and sleeping hours and the boring sessions with trainers.
Oops. It's now 4 a.m. Time for lunch break! Another happy moment coming up.
Luhje Altavano, 18, works in a call center in Taguig City.