Walls Represent the Face of the Philippines

The Philippines is paid a visit by overseas dignitaries. The road from the airport passes by a slum shantytown. Walls are built to mask the slum from the road so that the dignitaries cannot see the horrible condition in which many Filipinos live.
“We should pretty up our house when guests arrive” says a spokesman on behalf of the walls.
What price that tarp and the printing and the supporting cables, and the labor to install it?
What price decoration?
What price face?
In the household, we have essentials, and we have discretionary purchases that we can live with, or live without. Rice is essential. A vase by the front door is discretionary.
In this case, the people served by the government go without essentials so that the government can put vases all around.
It is what happens when the emotions and illogic of “face saving” comes to the forefront.
“But Joe, Joe. We all do that. We have pride in our homes.”
Well, yes, I suppose in is okay if we have important guests over for dinner, we skip a couple of plates of rice and buy a pot. But that is our choice, for us. It is our food  that we decide to sacrifice and our hunger that we elect to bear.
But it is a bad choice when the people who are having guests over make the neighbors, many with no food, buy them some pots.
Put another way, I recognize dumb when I see it. Also, I can feel the humiliation a wall imposes on slum dwellers so that the uppity people can feel superficially more clean and modern.
It is more insane, and less kind, in the Philippines.
6 Responses to “Walls Represent the Face of the Philippines”
  1. Greg says:

    When the Olympic Games were held in Sydney in the year 2000, the organisers were concerned about the adverse impression homeless people would cause. Two solutions were discussed.1. Ship the homeless to country regions during the games, or2. Give every homeless person a Budweiser T-shirt, so visitors would thing they were drunk American tourists.

  2. Ha, t-shirts. When I was in Australia in 2004, you couldn't get an American beer there at a lot of bars. None measured up. So that's a great story. Also, now that I reflect on it, Los Angeles is regularly cleaning out its homeless community, and for the Olympics there, probably did a thorough clean-up. So maybe we are all the same, embarrassed by our failures at caring for the monetarily disadvantaged.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sad to say, the coverup that you mentioned in your aforementioned post reveals the negative Filipino trait of "pagpapakitang-tao" or pretentiousness.

  4. I'm inclined to wonder who ordered up the wall; national or Manila government? Who gets held to account for the firestorm of backlash that keeps the Philippines in a negative glare, globally? Do you think anyone would/could say, "oops, my bad"? For me, I seldom see people step forward and say "I made that decision" if it turns sour. They don't mind if it rolls up and tarnishes the reputation of the Philippine President. I'm not asking your or anyone in particular, just pondering.

  5. Thanks for the reference link. MMDA may have done it. If it was ADB money, that would be a horrid application of funds that should be applied to helping people.

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