Some readers of this blog may well wonder about my unabashed hatred for the man named Bayani Fernando. Hatred may not even be the precise word that describes the knit of my eyebrows and the rise of my blood pressure whenever I hear anything about the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and its reigning despot.
First of all, let us read on the mmda.gov.ph website what Bayani Fernando’s Urbanidad project is:
“The MMDA chair has laid down his seven-pronged slogans and ad collaterals on education and enforcement of rules and regulations for dissemination to residents of Metro Manila on how to conduct themselves properly to ensure the success of the Metro Gwapo project. These include Walang Sagabal – Lansangan ay Ligtas-Mabilis, Walang Nakakainis, Walang Kalat, Walang Pook na Bulok-Maganda-Hindi Nakakatakot, Walang Sakit-Hangin-Tubig at Pagkain ay Malinis, Walang Mabaho-Kanal at Sapa ay Malinis, Walang Bastos-May Urbanidad-Hindi Nakakasakit ng Kapwa and Kaisa-the Metro Way.”
And since this is a highly opinionated blog post and is in fact my own blog on my webspace and on my own domain, I have chosen to throw all caution to the wind and zero in on “Walang Bastos-May Urbanidad-Hindi Nakakasakit ng Kapwa.”
Walang Bastos. May Urbanidad. Hindi Nakakasakit ng Kapwa. In English: No Boorishness. Possesses Urbanity. Does Not Harm (his) Fellowman. That is Bayani Fernando’s ideal Metro Gwapo (trans. Handsome) citizen, and will go to great lengths to create such a being.
Great lengths such as smelling the armpits of jeepney drivers who have been out pounding the high and byways of Metro Manila since 4 in the morning, and declaring them Rexona*-non-grata.
Great lengths such as ordering his minions to splash wet paint on “illegal” advertising banners, and then vowing to “catch the perpetrators.”
Great lengths such as sending out his team of marauders to “confiscate” the edible wares (never to be seen again) of sidewalk vendors, while ignoring newspaper/magazine vendors perhaps because the raiding parties either can’t read or can’t digest paper and ink.
Great lengths such as sending off his armed thugs into the Muslim Community across the street from Baclaran Church early this year, and firing indiscriminately, injuring children who were in the crowd.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought people who practice what they preach are the most effective teachers. If Bayani Fernando cannot teach his own minions the tenet of his Urbanidad then he has no business imposing it on the taxpayers who contribute to his salaries and operating expenses.
In his effort to create a Utopian Metro Manila where the air is clean, and the streets are pristine, and both drivers and passengers are polite and law-abiding, Bayani Fernando has chosen to ignore history, culture and bad city planning to implement rules and ordinances that do not work simply because they have not been well-thought out.
He cannot give his Metro Gwapo clean air because his smoke-belcher-catchers have been ignoring vehicles who deserve to be caught, and concentrating instead on vehicles whose drivers look like they can cough up not smoke but financing for the team’s merienda.
He cannot give his Metro Gwapo unobstructed sidewalks because vendors cannot relocate into the prefabricated markets that the government has built for their use, because no one actually goes there to buy their wares. Their real market is in the streets, where the passers-by and hungry workers are grateful that vendors are there. The barriers and turnstiles installed along SM Ayala-EDSA have been all but decimated because they were not planned with the actual situation in mind.
And he cannot instill discipline into the minds of men who know that Bayani Fernando himself does not possess the Urbanidad he so preaches, having sent his wet-paint-wet-rag-splashing teams harassing both businessman and blue-collar worker alike.
I can imagine Bayani Fernando, up in his air conditioned office in the MMDA Building on Orense Street, corner of EDSA, cool and cologned in his dark blue jacket, drawing lines and figures on whiteboards and construction paper, of where his barriers should go, and his turnstiles should stand, and his pink signs should be posted on, while totally ignoring the needs of the very people who live, walk and breathe the very same sidewalks.
People who sing his praise laud him for the Urbanidad by which people line up for public transport or for service at a counter. I’ve got news for you people — the nuns at school taught us to do that, almost 40 years ago, long before Bayani Fernando even put up turnstiles in his dreams. Urbanidad is the way by which people do not spit on sidewalks, do not throw trash away indiscriminately. Our parents taught us that.
Bayani Fernando does not really preach Urbanidad. He’s giving it a bad name.
* Rexona – brand of deodorant sold in the Philippines