Lost metal railings, detached post lights and vandalized park benches – now these are just some of the things you would expect when traversing around the metro. It is such a requisite that whenever one steps on untouched almost pristine public areas, one would surmise they’re in another country or continent. Or probably part of a mall/commercial property. Or one of ‘em Makati parks that’s being maintained by a foundation.
- public lights – I know we have one of the most hideous designs in public lighting (one topic worthy of an article or more). Manila (c/o of ex-Mayor Atienza) started all this craze of Sputnik lights to fishball styles (and has spread to the provinces and other cities) one would think he’s in Star City. But beyond esthetics, let me just say that the design should have the following specifications (if one is to expect a longer street life):
- bulbs and wires (the usual prized/saleable items) should be beyond reach of an average Filipino without using a ladder.
- initials (B, E, MI etc. – guess the city) of incumbent mayors/governors should not be painted/embedded or etched on them lest they be the first target of the next new administration.
- lighting should be either for the streets or for the sidewalks unless one can combine both like the one in Bonifacio Highstreet but that would mean less projects (less profits)
- proper color (yellow for the streets and white for the sidewalks) should be observed.
- a proper switch or sensor should be in place. One thing that would ruin any morning is to see kilometers of public lights still blazing during the rush hour.
- Sidewalks – we learned its existence and vigilant protection from Bayani Fernando and hopefully it remains in our psyche – sidewalks are for walking and pedestrians without exceptions for 365 days of the year.
- public parks – of the few left in the metropolis, we expect these spaces to be maintained (keeping it green is enough sans the ornamental plants, ponds, Japanese bridges, etc.) and free of scalawags and dark characters. And since they’re open to the public, barricading them with metal fences (in curlicue designs – another project) defeats its purpose. So please, stop accessorizing and treating these parks as your home garden for maintaining/up keeping them is beyond impossible. Here are my requirements for an ideal park that will survive through time – concrete fixed benches, carabao grass, trees and bushes which require little or no maintenance except water every morning.
- unused open spaces – please sell them at the right market value lest they transform into public parking, carinderia spaces, illegal settlers’ colony or red light district. Building another public edifice would just add up to more properties to maintain for the local government. Or maybe a green space which require minimal maintenance.
- Overpasses for pedestrians – they can be eyesores in a city which has its share of bridges, elevated highways and byways but try to put your self on a pedestrian’s point of view and one gets to walk around the city amidst floods and typhoons, day or night. The walkways can look distracting in an already crowded concrete landscape but I have tried them out and they can be accessible and useful than endangering one’s life in crossing our streets. The stairs and passages leading to our MRT/LRT networks are another story – one word comes to mind – decathlon (in leather footwear).
- unused public buildings – retro fitting is repurposing an old building for its new tenants – it’s more expensive but it’s more green and produces less waste. And if the building has some historical/architectural significance, the more we should preserve and re-use it instead of letting it decay and be a haven for sex workers/illegal settlers/drug dealers, etc., etc.