Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Sore Called Quiapo

An old picture of the Bilibid prison in Quiapo which is now a
 dense squatter colony in the most important real estate in that district
This is not about showbiz but since the top two leaders of Manila are actors anyway, this topic is right in their alley. I haven't gone to the Quiapo/ Recto area for a long time. And when I did,  it was really sobering. Or was it alarming? Infuriating? While the more prosperous parts of the metropolis were developing dense skyscraper clusters that could rival those of more famous cities in the world, the stretch traversed by a big part of the future leaders of the country (the area is the University Belt)... is still dingy.  Actually, it has become more dingy and at a time when most areas of the metropolis are following the clean Marikina makeover tricks, this area is favela dirty.  Why this area was allowed to rot is proof of the continuing mediocrity in local governance.

All the tricks on how to do the Marikina make-over over a Third-world clutter are already well-known, it's the same tricks done in similar-looking areas in Taipei or Tokyo. The Quiapo-look-a-like of Taipei, Ximending, has become fashionable while exploring the narrow streets around Tsukiji market in Tokyo still reveal traces of long-ago Quiapo scenes that could only have been gentrified by focused efforts. The areas around Divisoria are already starting to gentrify as developments increasingly creep into the area, and despite the still prevalent mess, you can feel things are moving and you can't help but feel it's just a matter of time.

But Quiapo? It's sister Cubao has already left it behind. But Quiapo is more critical because the street system of northern, western & eastern Metro Manila all converge in Quiapo but it is allowed to fester like an oozing sore. It is nothing but a clump of dilapidated buildings & dirty streets. To think even the dingy San Lazaro area nearby is gentrifying.

 I was really wondering why that squatter area around the old Bilibid prisons  which lie at what should be the most expensive real estate in the area, at the corner of Recto & Quezon Boulevard, with the giant LRT station to boot, is now thicker,  and the shanties have even become multi-storied. Preparing to squat for the long haul?

Quiapo needs a seed for development & this area is clearly the one so why is the squatter colony getting thicker and the areas all around were getting dingier instead? Imagine if it was turned into another of those developments-  considering it's the University Belt, why not build  a BPO/retail enclave like Eastwood with a Megamall instead? The dilapidated buildings along Quezon Boulevard will magically become glass towers in no time. As it is, Quiapo is an eyesore. So what are they waiting for? Why are the squatters becoming thicker & multi-storied instead?

Below is Ximending, the now fashionable district of Taipei which was its former Quiapo, complete with dilapidated buildings and narrow streets. Look at how its entrance look like Plaza Miranda.

They cleaned the streets
They cleaned, paved and did some decorative accents in the streets
But look at the buildings- they didn't have to reconstruct the dilapidated buildings, they just allowed them because they gave atmosphere anyway
Those dilapidated buildings will feel right at home in  Quiapo... but the overall effect of the makeover made Ximending fashionable

Just a little bit of imagination  (& political will) really...


  1. Skyscraper barongbarong cguro gus2 ipauso

  2. Kudos to this article, natumbok ko talaga. It's about time ma-gentrify na ang Quiapo, paano magkaroon ng self-respect ang mga estudiante na dumadaan diyan everyday,lumalaki sila sa bulok na paligid so susceptible sila na mahulog sa bulok na sistema. Kawawa naman ang bayan natin, may forever na lang sa kabulukan

  3. May nagpupunta pa ba sa Quiapo? Kadiri nga eh

  4. Tumbok na tumbok. Di ba panahon pa ni Ramos plano i-auction yang lugar na yan? Dapat kasi i-auction na nila yan para masimulan na ang development. Kung 5 taon ang gestation ng isang building, di kailan pa uunlad yang lugar na yan? Kung i-auction yan sa 2020 pa, tapos magtatayo ng building di sa 2025 pa matatapos tsaka lang gagaya ang iba at magtatayo rin ng kanila so 2030 pa at the earliest na makakita ng pagbabago ryan. Dapat gawin na nila ngayon para masimulan nang ma-develop yan para makasabay ang Quiapo sa Cubao

  5. Dapat gawin ni Erap na centerpiece project nya yan, maski parang Eastwood lang okay na, tiyak gagaya na ang lahat ng mga eskinita na magpapapogi rin