Red Book - The Real Filipinos

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sometimes in our lives, we are given the privilege to witness extraordinary things but we do not do not realize how significant they really are until much later in our lifetimes. Some things simply do not sparkle unless viewed from hindsight, where they show their true nature and become golden. This post is about one those events, written for posterity, that never will come the day that I forget when I saw what it meant to be real Filipinos.

When I was about five and living in Saudi Arabia, I distinctly recall having a couple stay with my family for a short while. They were tad older than my folks, but they were a pleasant lot. We lived in a small apartment of two bedrooms, only slightly larger than the first floor of our house in the Philippines so I remember being slightly pissed at the idea that they would occupy the room of me and my sister. On the other hand, the lady taught my mom how to cook pizza and cheesecake, and I got to sleep with mom and dad again. After a couple of weeks, we brought them someplace in Riyadh (we lived in Al-Khobar) and I got to eat at McDonald's, and that for me was the highlight of the trip.

That was my version of the story, from the point of view of a five year old, a good twenty-two years ago.

As I grew up and pieced together things from my sister, my parents, and later understanding of other much more subtle things that I remember, the picture that emerged was entirely different.

One night, my dad was in a public long distance call center. International direct calls used to be very limited back then so we had to visit these places just to place calls to the Philippines. It was then that another Filipino approached him. I do not know what exactly the man said but he told my dad that he was familied like he was, and hoped my dad would understand his situation and help out.

As it turned out the man my father was talking to had run away from their employing family who withheld their passports and put them on the police search list for runaways. They needed a place to stay. My dad, hearing the man's plight gave our address, and soon enough, the next day, they arrived at our place.

First, note that this man is a total stranger to my father, who has the whole family living in the address that he just gave away. And while I can say that living in Saudi brings out the best in Filipinos, I cannot say that there are also bad apples that tend to act desperately if not criminally in the face of hard life there. Second, we are not talking about the United States, or the Philippines. Saudi Arabia has unforgiving laws, be it towards criminals, or even those who seek to harbor them. Knowing these things, my dad agreed.

Throughout the stay, we did our best to help them become accommodated. My dad had to work so this left our mom, my sister and me to the company of our guests. Tita Cory and her husband, whose name eludes everybody in my family, also tried hard to make themselves useful. Part of the help they gave was the cooking lessons that Tita Cory gave my mom, which to this day I'm still grateful for (Mom's pizza and cheesecake are still the best).

All is not well though, and at the time, although I did not know it because she hid it from us kids, Tita Cory was already languishing at their plight, being stuck in a stranger's household and not being able to send money back to the Philippines to help her children and family. Being outlaws, they could not even go outside our house that had no windows (for insulation) and almost zero means of entertainment. (It was the late 80s, cable was not yet mainstream, betamax availability was few and far in between and the internet did not yet exist in Saudi). I could guess the boredom amplified the stress of hiding. My mother told me Tita Cory cried a lot, and if ever there's anything my dad has a soft spot for, it's crying women.

The problem with returning back to the Philippines is that you can't do it without a passport. And even if you do have it, you can't simply walk into an airport with your name on the hitlist of the police. The only ticket you're getting is one straight to jail. The only way out is through the Philippine Embassy, which we did not have in Al Khobar. It's in Riyadh, which is 389 kilometers away from Al Khobar. To put that distance in perspective, that's the distance between Manila and northern Ilocos Sur. The road between the two cities is a highway cutting across a swath of desert land, patrolled by police and laced with checkpoints where they check foreigners for documents. In short, just moving from one city to another was already very risky business.

My dad knew just letting them stay with us was already pushing our luck, and that the trip was no trivial matter considering he was also working full time on two jobs. He went around our building to bring the matter to his closest friends to see who could help. Understandably, nobody would agree to help. Who wouldn't say no to something that would jeopardize both their safety and livelihood for people they did not even know?

That said, my dad knew that if there was anybody who could do something about it it would have to be him. So one morning, we all woke up, got into dad's company car, and went for the long trip to Riyadh. Before we left, I noticed that there was money in my pocket. I gave it to my mother and as it turns out, it was tita Cory's small way of thanking us for our cooperativeness. We returned the money anyway, knowing she'd probably need it more than I do. (This part my mom told me, as I could no longer remember it ever happening)

I remembered sitting on somebody's lap. I don't remember who though. But at the time, I didn't know how dangerous what we were doing was. Hiding the folks was one danger, being on the road with them where one patrol or checkpoint could expose how we were helping undocumented aliens was completely another. My mom told me that one possible reason why my dad brought me and my sister along is that Saudis tend to have a weakness when it comes to children, and they become lax in their checks. Me? I was just happy to tag along. I was five and bored, so I was just enjoying the trip.

Thankfully we never got to test the child-weakness theory of my dad. As though the hand of God was at work, that day, there was not a single checkpoint on the road on the way to Riyadh. I don't remember ever dropping them off but I do remember Tita Cory was teary eyed when we were within the city already. Funny how her face at that specific time was the only one I ever remember of her. I remember eating at McDonald's afterwards, which at the time only existed in Riyadh. As a side note, if ever you think going a block or two for Mickey D's is a bitch, try three hundred kilometers.

On our way back, the significance of the act of God seemed more apparent as the places where there were no checkpoints before were now filled with police. Had we not been at the right place at the right time, Lord only knows what would have happened.

As an epilogue, I later learned that the couple, through the help of the embassy, was able to return the Philippines. Later on they both went back to work this time in a cruise ship, where Tita Cory became a chef. My parents and the couple exchanged few and brief correspondences and pasalubong packages a few years after the incident but sadly we've not heard of them ever since.

My parents risked livelihood and life to save a couple of strangers who for all practical reasons given our situation could have been ignored. People say that Filipinos are generally hospitable for their generous treatment of their guests. That's probably true, but I also think that the real hospitality, the nobler and less practiced, and less publicized one is the hospitality that moves us to help out and accommodate strangers, the value that turns us into Samaritans in face of great risks to ourselves and our loved ones to do something inherently altruistic and human.

That day I saw a glimpse of the real kind of hospitality.

The real Pinoy spirit.

That day I saw Real Filipinos.

Mongolian Matters

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I don't think I'll ever get Mongolian style meals. You're given a dozen ingredients to choose from, including assorted meats and sauces - implying you, the great empowered creator of your own meal can choose from tens of thousands of combinations to make your dish uniquely yours. But when you have it cooked, it still tastes like every Mongolian meal you've ever tasted. How is that possible? That's like giving me two pairs of wheels, an engine, four seats and a tank of gas and no matter how I arrange it, I'll end up driving away in a Honda Civic all the time.

There must be some conspiracy wherein the splitsecond you take your eyes off your food, the "chef" mixes in some secret "make-it-mongolian" ingredient, and it's not even crushed nuts.

Speaking of crushed peanuts, why is it that when a dish has crushed nuts, it's considered classy and oriental, but when you're just having a couple of beers with nuts, that mean's your too cheap to afford anything else? Why can't we decide once and for all if peanuts are cheap or saucy?

I digress.

I can just imagine what Mongolian chef school is like. They'd just have one subject: How to Mix Shit Without Burning The Kitchen 101. They don't have to think of the ingredients, the ratio and proportion, the blending of taste and all that. No, that's the customer's problem. Isn't it just the laziest thing? It's so lazy I'd say it's just fucking brilliant with a capital A. Does your food taste like shit? Blame your poor ability of picking out the right ingredients. The chef was just there to mix it all up in a heated metal plate.

I imagine that the whole "Mongolian" bowl meal started out as some lame excuse of a chef who got to work late one day. "Where's our food?" the angry customers yell. "I'm planning something special," the chef tells them, and then brings out every ingredient in the kitchen.

"It's called EMPOWERMENT. If you make your own dish, I'll cook it for you and add bottomless iced tea."

The crowd loved it, quite possibly because we're talking about a really shitty chef who can only cook better if the customers did half of his work.

Or maybe it's really just a Mongolian tradition? They probably have no Mongolese (and I am freely asuming this is just how they call their language) phrase for "What's for dinner?"

One person got so fed up of the bullshit, he had to leave the country and have other countries make food for him instead. This is Genghis Khan and his motivation of conquering half of the known world during his time.

And he probably hates lettuce too.

Red Book - Teacher Talk

Monday, April 18, 2011

If there's anything to be scared about in school, it's the teachers. Sure some of your classmates might beat you up in one of the fights, but that's more of a temporary thing. If there's anything I learned about kids early in life, it's that kids have the attention span of a particularly forgetful goldfish. One day you're burying fists in each other's faces, the next day you're sharing coke from a single straw. No, that's not really what's to be scared about.

It's the teachers.

In the land called school, they're the judge, juror, executioner, and occasionally the object of your prepubic lust.

You read that last one right.

I know, I know. I went to an all-boys school. Try to understand.

Cross me and you're going to wish you get this before I get you.
A teacher is not legally allowed to beat up a kid in class. We're not barbaric. What are we, South Korea? No, the worst physical thing a teacher can do is to vent out at other inanimate things incapable of filing assault and battery charges in Bantay Bata 163 such as the blackboard, the cleaning closet, Mark the retard...

Here are other things they usually do without having to resort to manhandling:

1. Throw chalk at you with the precision of a Barret M107 sniper rifle. Years of practice have enabled the more seasoned teachers to reclassify these harmless writing implements into precision strike munitions. 

2. Throw shoes at you. I have no idea on this one, but for some reason it's something that occurs often enough for me to remember. 

3. Make obscene remarks about how they will fong your internal organs. (as immortalized by our Drafting teacher's "babarukahin ko ang bituka mo" the meaning of which eludes me to this day)

4. Throw your notebook on the floor and treat it as though it's the progenitor of the bubonic plague. 

5. Pull your sideburns. I have strong belief that this is the equivalent of capital punishment in the education system. I cannot think of anything more painful, short of an in-classroom crucifiction followed by a 4-chapter nonstop reading of Noli Me Tangere. But that's too inhuman already. Nobody should endure Noli any longer than a chapter every two days.

So to recap, they can do anything EXCEPT lay hands on you, which is very rarely employed and even then, they're done secretively by some teachers who learned how to teach lessons by watching instructional videos from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. For the rest, they have to delegate things to the only people on earth who can, legally and backed by the 1986 National Constitution, beat your ass black and blue.

Your parents.

If a teacher deems you too unruly for her tastes, she'd issue a demand to see your parents. That's when shit just crumbles. First, you have to tell your parents. Parents, being busy people, absolutely hate having to leave whatever it is that they are doing, just to apologize to a bunch of strangers who they are already paying four times a year to keep you out of the house. They're busy, but never too busy to beat you up. 

Strike one.

Of course, when the teachers meet up with the parents, they will mention anything BUT you. I assume the teachers are probably sick of talking to and about adrenaline-junkie children all day and would kill to talk to normal adults. So they'll talk on and on about life, the works, and how they met their husbands 30 years ago, which of course your PARENT are not interested in, but cannot skip because they are in school specifically to ensure that you don't end up out-of-school, which means they'll have to put up with you longer than they already do. At the end of the session the teacher sells the PARENT everything from underwear to life insurance to house and lots. PARENTS HATE THIS. So the first thing they do after they see you again, at the privacy at your own home, they will beat you up for having to put up with all that. Again. 

Strike two.

So in a way, teachers still have the power to manhandle you. But like syndicate bosses, instead of laying hands on you in a personal way, they have bouncers to do the ass kicking for them. At the same time, they earn commission from whatever they manage to sell in the process. It's a win-win situation - for them at least.

As a separate note to our non-Filipino/non-Asian readers, beating an offspring is still the norm in our country. While this maybe reported as unethical by a lot of western countries, we maintain a liberal position on the issue and only limited by the "no blood no foul" rule, end even so, it's more of a guideline than an actual law. Try it sometime. I doubt any kid will have the guts to bring a gun to school knowing that getting caught dead or alive will still mean having to answer to their parents and God-given rights to give a healthy dose of behaviour-corrective physical therapy.

Going back, one of the more noteworthy things about our teachers is that unlike most progressive schools in the country nowadays where the teachers are young and don't stay very long, our teachers have been around for a lot longer than most infrastructures in town. And I wish I was making this up, but my doctor, who is probably no less than 25 years older than me had the same FIRST GRADE teacher as me. The teacher who was pulling my sideburns had, 25 years ago, been pulling my doctor's sideburns as well. We made jokes about how Homer, author of Odyssey went blind because of doing homework for our History teacher, and we half believed that the only reason it can't be true is because they were probably living in different continents at that time. Some of these teachers are so timeless, they're probably still doing what they do best right at this minute. Like right now.

These are the few, the grand, the seasoned people who have for years honed their skills in teaching and disciplining the worst kinds of student to the extent that some feats they perform, when not taken in the context of school, can be mistaken for superpowers. Here are some of those things:

1. They can hurl things at amazingly accurate trajectories. Nevermind that half of our teachers are over sixty. If they can lift it, sure as hell they can chuck it at anybody's direction with an accuracy that would put our SWAT teams to shame. As mentioned above, the only way to avoid getting hit by anything is to avoid putting teachers in a situation where throwing something is the most convenient option they have at disciplining you.

2. Teachers have an amazing ability to recall names of students, even if they handle 5 classes a year with fifty students each. They'd still remember a student from 1991 who happened to have exceptionally horrible handwriting 20 years later. It's like talking with a living breathing google. Once you put it out there, they'll be able to pull it out years later, in the most embarrassing manner possible. Whereas, by comparison, I can't even remember the name of the guy at work I talked to earlier. What I do believe is that he's my boss. (I think)

3. Teachers can read your mind. I'm not saying all teachers can read your mind. Some of them, most of them the younger ones who haven't suffered the continuous onslaught of puberty-related evils, are just plain clueless. The rest, the veterans, can read your mind like it's morning paper headline on a bright sunny day. The only reason why you think they never seem to listen is that they don't care, and most of the time, what's on your mind isn't worthy of exiting it through any orifice of your body anyway. If there's still doubt in your mind, try cheating. If there's some brilliant plan you're thinking of, chances are there's somebody who's tried to do it already 5, 10 years ago. It's still old hat, no matter what. Speaking of which,

4. Once there was a teacher who said to us that she could hear the voice of God speaking to her during exams to tell her who was cheating. While I'd love to say how much implausible that may be, and I shit you not, this teacher CAN catch cheaters better than Angela Lansbury catches murderers in Murder She Wrote. For the teacher's case, you didn't even need to commit the act. The moment your mind formulates a plan, the teacher's eyes are already glued on you, like a hungry hawk waiting for the poor mouse to make a move. If we had ombudsmans at par with my teacher, the instant politicians meet the eyes of madame teacher, they'd be pleading guilty to 10 years of prison already. Teachers can sniff dishonesty, fear, and body odor beyond normal human limits.

If Professor X were among our teachers in gradeschool/highschool, the only thing that would probably make him stand out is that he's got slightly less hair than his male colleagues. Other than that, he'd be joe ordinary.

One day I'm going to have kids. And they'd probably have to put up with teachers like that too. The odds of them meeting the very same teachers with me if they got to the same school are reasonable enough and they'd get their sideburns pulled by third generation punishment. I'd say it'll be all good, and maybe someday when their patilyas are no longer hurting so bad, we'd have a good laugh about it.

At least maybe until the teachers summon me.

Happy 50th, Space men!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Today's the 50th anniv of how the first man who lived after going to space became the actual first man in space. If there's anything to be learned from how Russia does things, if at first you don't succeed, most of the evidence will burn up on reentry anyway. Seriously. How many cosmonauts were lost before Yuri?


Whenever I think my work sucks, I think of other professions and breath a sigh.

I bet workers at the ribbon factory have to deal with a lot of red tape too.

For workers at the Chicharon plant, it's always crunchtime.

A customer breathing down your neck is normal for a GRO.

For septic tank cleaners in dry places, tough shit.

Is Marcos the Worst Philippine President?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The only good presidency is the one that happened long ago enough for people to forget how horrible it was at the time. Aguinaldo sold out. Quezon enslaved the legislation to a degree that would make Arroyo blush. Magsaysay was a master of subtle publicities and had the entire nation swooning despite his economic ineptitude. Macapagal sold us off to the foreigners. Of course none of these are so evident now because nobody writes things like this in the history books. Point of the matter is, Marcos sucked as a president, but he also did good things, as can be said of every president in our history. It just so happens that he became president at a time that people are able to effectively preserve memories already, so the usual process of forgetting never happened. Ever notice how, no president in the last 40 years seems as good as the ones before? Thanks to technology, we've become really good grudge bearers. That's all.'s Biggest News Of The Day is like a hot but secretly batshit insane girlfriend of a close friend. At first you wonder why anybody in their right mind would dump her, but after a while you just say "good riddance" and then proceed with filling the grave with your shovel. The longer I read, I get to realize why GMA News TV left the previously dominant news site INQ7.NET. Inquirer fields an amazing array of retarded articles on their site, ranging from five worded SEO traps, to unmarked paid advertisment, to amazingly bias politicking from only the most unprofessional people of the industry.I'm not saying GMA News TV is any better, but "good riddance".

Just look at the article above.

1. A kid learning how to fold paper is NOT news. Every kid eventually learns it. The only time it can be special is if the baby learns it while inside the womb and comes out clutching one of those folded things that predict the color of your crush's underwear. Now THAT is headliner news to me.

2. The "woman" who was written in the title is none other than the WRITER, Edna T. Belleza, who at the very least had the decency and lapse of ego to not write her full name in the title preceded by "Her Most Magnanimous" title. If the space allowed it, maybe. Really. Not even columnists have the balls to do that. The author then proceeds to write every so casually over what she did over the weekend as though the article is a blog post shared with a couple of friends. Part of my died every time she mentioned "Me", "Myself", and "I". Yes, you're doing what a parent is supposed to do. We get it.

3. Good parenting is teaching your kids that it's important to get involved in helping people when they are in need. Bad parenting is telling your kid that you can do this by sending somebody who just lost his home, his family, and his livelihood FOLDED PAPER, because some stupid legend says if you make enough you can get a wish granted. I can imagine a poor Japanese guy receiving a box from our country, happily opens it up, and finds a thousand poorly folded paper cranes that at best, can only provide heating for approximately 30 seconds of warmth, or alternatively, a supply of bodily fiber if he can bear to eat folded avians. "Kuso," he would tell himself and shake his fist at whoever ruined perfectly good paper just to say they care.

4. To top it all off, the project ISN'T EVEN FINISHED YET. And YET it's already headliner news. How's this for a more honest to goodness title: NOT DONE YET, BUT LOOKIE HERE! That's like having a property development group making a presscon about a building that's basically just a couple of struts sticking out of the ground "hopefully this will be finished soon, but just so you have an idea, you can live here someday". The press would probably get pissed and proceed to swing heavy construction tools at the marketing people.

How does an article like this get published?

6 More Stupid Things Drivers Do

Friday, April 08, 2011

1. When entering a parking lot via an electronically-dispensed ticket, some cars overshoot. Instead of backing up, or just getting out of their cars to get the card, they have to ask an attendant to hand it to them, as though their ass is glued to their seats and there's no way to get out without triggering massive rectal bleeding.

2. Not bothering with signal lights since they're just turning 'round the corner' as though there's some other use for turning signal lights other than that, and I somehow missed it during driving lessons.

3. Using carplate holders that tilt the plates forward. Theoretically these carplate holders are designed to fold down when you reach the speed of about 100kph, which is too fast for anybody to care about what license plate is on your car anyway. If you do stupid shit at speed, they won't need your license plate. They will need a tow truck and a very large shovel for hauling your car and your remains away.

4. Using tinted carplate holders, which when exposed to bright lights, tend to hide the plate numbers. Next to those ugly European Union underplates, this should be marked as capital crime punishable by being tacked with license plates on the driver's forehead with nine inch nails.

5. non-LTO sanctionedVanity plates. The worst part of this is that we already have a law against using vanity plates in lieu of the actual plates that can IDENTIFY THE VEHICLE, WHICH IS AS GOD INTENDED FOR LICENSE PLATES. The police are too scared of who they're going to offend, and people are too crafty to be bothered to be identified when they're fleeing from a hit and run accident. I propose a simple solution for this case. Any car caught wearing those plates should be legally open for being hit in the windshield repeatedly by a tire iron, or anything equally as hard. Empower the people, make the windshield sellers rich, fuck people who think having relatives in NBI is a ticket to insolence. It's Win-Win. Vote for me in the next election.

6. People who drive with their arms or elbows dangling outside the car. I'm pretty sure Filipinos aren't huge people. Some are, but most aren't. It seems though that for some people, the space inside the cars is still too small for them that they'd have to stick their arms out where it can conveniently get in contact with anything from tree branches to ten wheeler trucks. I'm thinking it's so they can high-five people in the other lanes quickly, just in case they found a situation that makes that a life-saving necessity. Otherwise, it's just fucking retarded.

Corporate Chair Swaps

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Log taken from a convo with a friend a few weeks ago. A worthwhile read for officeworkers and misplaced chairs everywhere.

Mai: yeah. this used to be a good chair until the adjustment got borked
Mai: ;_;
Mai: must fight the urge to secretly swap chairs
Red: hahahah
Red: who knows, maybe sombody already swapped that in. you didnt break it, it was replaced!
Mai: fffffff
Mai: o_o
Mai: hmm
Red: the plot thickens
Mai: >:E
Red: on February the 7th, 11:57AM, you went out for lunch, during which time there was a 15 minute gap in the surveillance tape of your security office.
Red: The texture of the gum stuck under your chair changed shortly afterwards, as well as the backrest
Mai: ahahaha
Mai: (there really has to be gum stuck underneath the chair. It's like a fingerprint)
Red: LOL
Red: Mai!! That's bad. Don't you have a wastebasket?
Mai: I don't chew gum in the office!
Mai: but yeah
Mai: it's how you can identify which chair is yours, right? (aside from carvings)
Red: hahaha
Red: yeah. real pros have judge stuck under their chairs. amateurs have to settle with bazooka joe.
Red: you can't get replacements?
Mai: I can request for one, but if it'll take a PR I'm doomed to this chair for two weeks or so
Mai: unless I can get a kind soul to swap chairs with me! (I doubt)
Red: well the kind soul does not have to know of his generosity
Mai: ahahahaha
Red: forgiveness is easier to ask than favor
Red: >:]
Mai: evil evil jet
Red: "Please let us exchange chairs because my back hurts" is a lot longer than "whoops."

Working in McKinley Hill

Friday, April 01, 2011

(subtitle: why it sucks)
McKinley Hill is a patch of land near Bonifacio Global City (BGC) developed by Megaworld for residential, commercial, and corporate purposes. Because of its proximity, it is often confused as part of Bonifacio Global City, even when it's not. If McKinley Hill were a person, he'd be a out-of-school hipster who gets by through his links with his big brother BGC. Meanwhile, BGC does everything to distance himself from McKinley Hill, and does it to some degree of success, as we will discuss further into this article.

1. McKinley Hill has an identity crisis
Understandably, BGC is also a potpourri of all purposes from recreation to schools to work to residence. The city within a city concept works well. McKinley hill also tries to cater to all these things. The only difference is that McKinley Hill is about 1/6th the size of BGC, and ends up with offices built next to housing projects, schools next to chain smoking call centers, and expensive restaurants below common-man work areas. If you live here and wanted to relax by jogging, you'd end up mingling with a 24-7 workforce from outsourcing companies. Your kid will be going to schools beside malls. And dining will always feel like office cafeteria because there's always a lot of workers eating.

2. McKinley Hill hates commuters
Megaworld refuses to outsource transportation but exceptionally sucks at providing its own. The lone bus loading terminal is in the middle of it all, which is sensible, until you realize that if you live, study, or work somewhere around the further edges of the development, you will have to walk the long walk everyday, through uneven terrain through every weather imaginable. You'd think the fact that it's called a HILL would tip off planners that people might need better ways to get around. Since the buses are privately operated, they are few and far in between, limited in scheduled hours, and oftentimes jampacked with workers during rush hour. To add insult to injury, the fares are grossly overpriced at 20 pesos and can only be discounted if you pay for the tickets in advance. Oh yeah, the tickets are also expiring, as though for some reason paper has become a perishable good. The only public jeep station is just outside McKinley Hill, but you can reach it only through a short uphill climb worth two stories if you happen to be working in the lower McKinley parts. A few months back, admin thought that the jeeps were an eyesore so they had the jeeps move 300 meters away from the entrance where it's dark and without cover from the elements of nature. They then closed down the perfectly-working shed. Other options for commuting are taxis, and habal-habals, unofficial for-hire scooters that zigzag in and out of traffic as though they're in some videogame where getting bumped reduces health and does not cause your brain to be thrown into the pavement 50 meters from where you land in the event of an automobile collision. They fetch for 40 pesos, and a few days of your lifespan per ride.

3. McKinley Hill hates drivers as well
As mentioned earlier, BGC secretly hates McKinley, and goes out on a limb to ensure that there is no direct path between McKinley Hill and Global City. McKinley Hill figures this is all good and normal and sticks to the idea that somehow, a two-lane road on one end and a two-lane road on another end with NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS WHATSOEVER is somehow enough to cater to a population of several thousand cars, not including visitors who wish to avail of the various restaurants and events held in the Piazza. The only entrances and exists of this place is along Lawton Ave, and C5 which is subject to heavy traffic both in the morning and in the rush hours of the evening leading up to late at night. If God designed the human body the way designers organized this place, we'd have mouths and anuses the size of our nostrils and we'd be required to eat 20 pounds of meat every day. The only 5000-slot carpark available has the first three floors reserved for corporate accounts (mostly managers) the parking is laid out in a 700 meter narrow building with only one functioning elevator in the middle. The ramps are poorly maintained, with steel spikes poking out of the edges, waiting for its next rubbery victim. Oh and yeah, because of the topology, when it rains hard, the ground floor becomes a swimming pool. Free exterior and interior washing, see? I hope you like the scent of a wet dog.

4. The area sucks as a work place
The buildings themselves are poorly equipped to handle disasters. There's a power outage every week, and even though the building is less than five years old, the air conditioning oftentimes smells like it can swap war stories with my grandfather. While I'm not one to say ghosts do exist, there's something unsettling about working a stones throw away from a thousand graves from WW2. But then again, maybe that will ensure the ancient aircon system won't have to run out of war stories.

The food is just slightly more varied than a penal colony in North Korea. Along the whole 4 block stretch of Upper McKinley, there are only 10 food outlets including Starbucks and 7/11. Four of them do not offer solo meals below 100 pesos. There are no canteens, no food courts, and I heard that Jollibee, Chowking and other related outlets are not allowed to franchise within the district. The only other option is to walk to The Venice Piazza which likewise offers pricey meals that's obviously not designed for the quick and cheap luncher.

As for transport at night, the buses stop coming at 9pm, even though half of the companies in McKinley support 24-7 operations. The only other option is to take the taxi, or walk to the jeep terminal, which is, and gladly, not lighted AT ALL.

5. Establishments
The establishments in McKinley close early, and I suppose that's understandable because it's partially residential, but that also makes it a hassle since it's also supposed to be partially corporate, where people tend to stay very late. The food is designed to cater to the higher society crowd, which unfortunately doesn't cover 80% of the working populace. What happens is the food establishments are forced to come up with cheaper versions of their dishes, but to ensure that these cheaper foods don't kill the atmosphere or at least compete with their regular dishes, you can only order them TO GO. SO you walk to Piazza under the blazing sun only to order food, and then return to your office so you can eat. Because it's either that or you're stuck with KFC or McDonalds FOREVER.

6. Lack of infrastructure
Here are some things BGC has and McKinley hill has not bothered to give a damn about:

1. Church
2. Hospital/clinic
3. Drug store
4. Any shop other than 7/11
5. Working stoplights

What MH does have is easy access to any of two major cemeteries, for what its worth.

The location of McKinley Hill is technically a good location. It's near Makati, BGC, the airport and access to the South Luzon Expressway. It's tucked away from busy traffic, and is peaceful because of it so, but with the lack of infrastructure, lack of a clear vision of what it wants to become, and a simple disregard for most of the people visiting it regularly makes it come far below its potential. With so many alternatives popping up in BGC, and even the Mall of Asia, I won't be too surprised to see that McKinley Hill will become the next Eastwood Libis - once the hottest place for living and tech startups, and touted as the best place for IT business, now slowly becoming a ghost town. And as far as ghost towns go, being surrounded by dead people is a clear advantage.

Part 2 here:

Search This Blog

Most Reading