“Beyond the commerce of men”…. a social commentary

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My previous post is about the massive clearing operations currently going on in

the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  Manila is just one of 16 cities of Metro-Manila.  Non-Filipinos  and  Filipinos from other parts of the country call the whole metropolis ” Manila”, but  residents of  Metro-Manila  specify where exactly they come from….  like Quezon City, Paranaque City, Makati City, etc.  On my previous post,  I said  I was born in Manila.  Actually, I was born in Paranaque City, just a taxi ride away from Manila, 25  minutes without traffic,  2 hours with traffic. lol

 

Map of Metro-Manila, Philippines

 

 

 

Now, about the title of this post….

 

The Philippines’ Supreme Court had come out with a milestone decision on  the use of roads, sidewalks, and open spaces ( parks ) located in private subdivisions.  Basically, it says these so-called private  roads, etc. should be opened to the public. However,  though public,  all roads , sidewalks and parks  are ” BEYOND THE COMMERCE OF MEN. ” In other words, no one can use these places other than what they are intended for.  The phrase ” beyond the commerce of men”  is the ground these massive clearing operations stand on…… demolish all encroachments and obstructions, kick out illegal vending on sidewalks and streets. ( Ah, no more street food, eh ? )

 

Below is a structure built on the sidewalk… clearly a violation  of  national building code, and can be demolished even without  the  Supreme Court’s mandate.  Note : demolition workers lack proper equipment… it’s mano-mano, meaning literally by hand and it’s quite dangerous.  The city does use payloaders and jackhammers in some areas. but not enough for the whole city.

 

 

 

 

 

Above photo shows city workers  removing  food carts off a sidewalk.

 

Below is road clearing. Note: vendors occupy the street, then same street partially cleared… ( not enough, in my opinion… but , it’s better than nothing.)

 

 

I highly doubt Manila would be completely cleared .  Anarchy in the streets has been so  tolerated for  decades it’s become part of  Manila culture . They say it  would take at least 2 generations to completely wipe this off the people’s psyche.  My parents remember a clean city, with wide avenues lined with century old trees, such as  Taft Avenue, Manila’s main thoroughfare.  Then the trees were taken out to make way for  a wider road, and later , ( 1984) ,ugly , elevated railroad tracks  were built over it.  ( Metro Rail ) They also remember  there was a loud  outcry over removal of century old trees, but , well, “progress.”  Then, old residents of Manila left to live in the suburbs and  posh subdivisions just outside of Manila, and were replaced by people from the countryside with less education,  no job prospects and  housing ……then they built shanties on public lands, and the rest is history. It came to a point where illegal settlers and shanty dwellers have even become defiant  and  caused trouble and violent protests  everytime  well-meaning officials would try to clean up the city.  Previous city mayors had practically given up,  until the new mayor, Francisco Moreno, was elected in July , 2019, and promised to clear up Manila.

 

I am not so sure about that. Sorry, Mayor Moreno.   A big chunk of the city  looks like shanty town , with old, dilapidated , greasy , built in dirt on buildings,  especially in places like Tondo, and Quaipo,  and patchy-patchy residential houses .  Unless he issues an order for building and home owners to rehabilitate (  aka repaint ) their properties, ( which is dictatorial and too heavy handed, in my opinion ) , no matter how clean the streets and sidewalks are,  Manila will forever remain an unsightly, sad city.  I’ve seen these places on YouTube…. they look like the photo below…

…. * shakes head *

 

 

Above is a common street scene in Tondo, Manila. They build structures without regard for safety. Look  how many floors there are, and they are made of rusty corrugated iron, old wood, etc.   The houses are so unsafe. I assume they don’t bother to get a building permit, and authorities don’t  bother to inspect.

 

Don’t get me wrong…. the rest of Manila is charming, beautiful, and historical.  In fact, the whole country , all 7,641 islands of it, is one huge tourist spot…….  Pristine islands with white sand and the bluest water  you won’t  see anywhere else in the world.

 

So, how does one solve a problem like Manila ?

 

People suggest  deal with it with a hand of steel, and it’s about time.

 

Legitimate Manilenos  are already sick and tired of  illegal settlers demanding relocation sites and free housing.  There are already hundreds of government relocation sites with free houses. Well, not exactly free… they pay a staggering   $ 4.00 a month.  I repeat….. FOUR DOLLARS.   (  other cities are already protesting they don’t want them there, and tax payers are also complaining that their taxes are spent building houses for these squatters, with no end in sight. )

 

But…to be fair…. call Manila what you like, but…….

 

Believe it or not,  residents of Manila have free health care (  free medicines, even free surgeries, free hospitalizations) free public universities,  and senior students in  public  high schools are given PhP 1,000 Cash every month, discounted transportation fares for students,  senior citizen discounts in everything including  movie passes,  plus PhP  500 cash a month….. single parents are also given Php 500 cash. .  It’s practically  a welfare state.  That’s why poor people from  other places flock to the city.  Hey, fellow Americans, does this sound familiar ?

 

Another thing… the Philippines has universal health care.

 

And,

 

By law, all workers receive a 13th month pay, ( besides their 12 months regular salaries) , and if the employees are lucky, they also get 100 % Christmas bonus from big companies and government  institutions.  In other words, 14 months salaries annually.

 

And ,  all companies with more than 50 employees , are unionized.  Truckers, drivers ….Yes, unions are strong in the Philippines.  This is the reason why foreign companies don’t invest in the Philippines. They hate unions and organized workers, right? Typical.   They go to Vietnam,  Indonesia, and countries where  forming  unions are not allowed. There are only a few countries in Asia ( or Australasia ) where unions are  present .. Australia, Philippines and New Zealand.  CBA or Collective Bargaining Agreement is a very important aspect of doing business in the Philippines.  No sweatshops allowed.  That’s why you won’t see cheap clothes and stuff  here in the US that are Made in the Philippines.

 

Oh, wait, where am I going?  My thoughts are going haywire.

 

I guess it’s time to stop now.

 

PS:

 

I saw food cart  vendors  in Italy ( or their  merchandise are spread on the ground, mostly  fake brands, ugly souvenirs, etc. ) and hassling tourists.  In England, too.  Hey, Brits, you see them , right ? Yep, been there, saw them myself.   Watch out, Italy and England.     I think it looks worse in India.  Warning !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good ol’Manila, Philippines, my birthplace.

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It’s been awhile.  I’ve been so busy everyday is like a marathon.  I’ve also been helping clean our rental house when I have the time.  Guys, I did mention that our neighbor contractor  said we’d be out $20 K  easily .  He underestimated the cost of renovation.  It’s now inching towards $30 K. My heart goes out to my parents.  I was with my  mother when we bought new fridge, oven, and dishwasher.  We also renovated the two bathrooms . All floorings are new, from kitchen to bedrooms and of of course , the bathrooms.  aaargh.. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

 

We  already bought the plane tickets for our Philippine vacation in February , 2020.

 

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of what’s going on in the Philippines. Thre’s   a massive clearing up operations going on  ….City authorities  are basically getting rid of illegal vendors  and structures on public properties.  .  The capital city of Metro-Manila , Manila, has a new mayor, and it looks like he’s very serious in cleaning up the city.  Metro-Manila is comprised of 16 cities and Manila is the capital,   the centre of government  but  due to decades of  neglect,   it’s  become a cesspool. The city  has been invaded by squatters and illegal vendors. I’ve been watching the massive clearing-up operations againt  illegals…… I’m sorry, but I have little  sympathy for them. I am not anti- poor, but damn,  enough is enough !  !  These illegal vendors  have totally occupied major streets , avenues, and sidewalks ……and not only that,  they leave so much garbage on the streets….. it’s anarchic and  almost criminal. Manila traffic  is one of the most chaotic  in the world because only 60%  are passable.  The new mayor, Francisco Moreno, has vowed to do the right thing .  So far, so good.  Mayor Moreno has now become a Rock Star in Pilippine politics. .

 

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Illegal vendors obstruct traffic on secondary and tertiary roads. No vehicles can pass anymore.

 

 

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Above is a major road in Manila,( Divisoria) one of many, that has been fully occupied by vendors.  Thieves,  ruffians,  street children ,   “solvent”  boys , snatchers, and  riff raffs mingle with shoppers,  unfortunately. .  I don’t know how  shoppers protect  themselves from these bad elements  of society.

 

And the photo below is how  the same road looks like  when it was cleared , just a bit… Holy cow, , there’s a 6 lane road under all that rubble ! !  Freakin’ hell !

 

 

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I hope Manila will look nice and clean  when we get  there. My co-worker  ‘s coming with me.  I don’t want my co-worker to have WTF moments during our vacation. But  we’re going to Divisoria to shop.   We’ll be  moving targets of  pickpockets…. . My  co-worker is  white .  And even though  I look like them,  for some reason, Filipinos  can recognize a non- citizen .  Or , am I just being paranoid ? We’ll hold on tight  and close  to our purses , no expensive watches and jewellery on us, either.

We did go to Divisoria  in 2014.  Everything was dirt cheap, so freakin’ cheap !     Haggling though  is ” de rigueur ”  in  Divisoria.  My accent was a give -away so my cousin did much of  the obligatory haggling for me. No tourist price, please.

 

Haggling  goes like this:

You buy 3 T-shirts, I’ll give them to you for  450 pesos, Ma’am.  ( $ 9.00 )

I can get that for 300 pesos  (  $6.00 ) at WalMart.  ( I lie.)

 

Ma’m , that’s below my capital….  I can give it to you for 400 pesos. ( $8.00 )

 

Is that the last price ? How about 350 pesos? ($3. 70)

375 pesos,  last price Ma’m.

 

Okay, sold.  ( My haul :   $7.50 for 3  nice T-shirts.  $ 2.50  each …..  Yay !  My awesome haggling power ! ! )

Then I saw similar T-shirts  at next store for 95  pesos each .(  $ 1. 90  )

 

Fail.

 

What can we buy in Divisoria? Everything, including wedding gowns.

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The truth is, Manila is a beautiful city.  It has the biggest urban park in Asia, it’s full of trees, and  has that old ,charming colonial ambiance . Filipinos , by the way, love fountains and water features…… Manila has lots of  these all over the city. If you’re a tourist, just avoid  places with bad reputation, like Tondo, Divisoria, and areas north of Pasig River, the main river artery of Manila. It’s sad because these places  are the old , historical Manila. The problem is,  that’s where the “have nots”  had congregated, while  the “haves” left  to live in gated subdivisions in the suburbs…… and where new , modern, clean cities  subsequently sprouted around them… Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Newport City, etc. … these cities are so  clean one can eat off the streets. Sadly, there’s  an invisible wall that separates these areas from the “Great Unwashed” that is Manila..   For example, jeepneys and tricycles ( mode of transportation of the poor ) are not allowed into these cities… the ban  is  as  subtle as a battleaxe , no ?  ” Keep off  our  beautifully manicured lawn. .”  That’s what that ban means.  Well,   I don’t blame them.  Let one in … the next morning you’ll find hordes of  illegals selling their wares, peeing and pooping  everywhere, letting their minor children roam the streets, knocking on car windows begging for money , and if  you don’t give , they’ll  kick your car or scratch it with a rock…..they also   dump  garbage on the streets.

 

 

 

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Beyond words.   The LEFTIST activists are saying the mayor wants Manila to become another place for the ELITES. ….. This is the reason why my politics  radar is inching from the left  towards the center. I ‘m into social justice, but despise lawlessness.

But the truth is,  even though BGCity, Makati City, and the rest  of the metropolis have all the beautiful skyscrapers,   Manila is still  the centre of commerce in the Philippines.  Manila is the depository of all goods that come  from all over the Philippines and the world, and it’s been like that since 1500 ( Spanish galleon trade ) .  Ironically, Tondo , a scary place today,  was the center of commerce  , even during  pre-colonial times.

Below  are photos of Bonifacio Global City and Makati City.

 

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Below is the Trump Tower in Makati City

 

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Above is Tondo in Manila…. that’s reality… I’m  not hiding it, folks. … To be honest, this is even the “better ” slum area.  I don’t want to show anymore the worse of the worst.

 

But,  even though Manila has been left behind by neighboring cities, there’s one thing  other cities do not have……character.

 

Below is the statue of the country’s national  hero, Dr. Jose Rizal , located at Rizal Park ( or more commonly called Luneta , the largest  urban park in Asia )

 

 

Intramuros , or Walled City  ( Fort Santiago entrance photo, built in 1571 )

 

 

Charming old colonial architecture  , cobblestones…..

 

 

 

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Manila Cathedral

 

 

 

Below is University of Santo Tomas, built in 1611, the oldest university in Asia.  Next photo is Manila Baywalk..

 

 

 

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Intramuros (2)

 

 

 

 

 

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The National Museum

 

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And of course, the official residence of  the President of the Philippines:

 

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Roxas Blvd. along Manila Bay, with world famous Manila Bay sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

The new mayor of the capital city… Francisco “Isko” Moreno

 

 

By the way,  my photos here are messed up.  Some are  cut off, and others turn out too small. I can’t fix it, sorry.

 

The new Manila mayor  loves to dance. Ha ha… Awesome.

 

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A young and idealistic politician.  I hope he keeps his promise to bring  back the old glory of  the Queen City of the Orient.

 

Below is the Manila Post Office Building.

 

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That’s it….  I know  this post seems random and unorganized.  There are just  so much to talk about  that I don’t even know where to start , and how to end my  thoughts.

Anyway, to see is to believe , and I’ll see it 6 months.  Manila is my birthplace. I love the city, warts and all.

PS…. There will be a series of posts about the Philipines, especially about the dangers of  forcible  taking of  a group of small Philippine  islands on West Philipine Sea or ( South China Sea)  by you know what country….  This country wants to  own and dominate the seas  …..   and mess up the most protected  site in the world, the Philippine Tabbutaha Reefs.   The whole world should take note and pay attention ! !!    Please .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenants from hell! !

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Tenants from hell ! !

 

They vacated our house on June 23.

 

We inspected  the house the next day.

 

Ayiiiiieee !

 

Beyond words……

 

Our neighbor/contractor who came over to inspect the place  said we’d be out $20,000  easily.

 

Informed our insurance agent… will do inspection/adjusting/assess  for damages soon.

 

Total carpet replacement…  no bedroom doors…cracked toilet bowls  ,changed the keys.. the swimming pool is a mess. Yep. it was that bad.

 

There are holes on the walls that look like they ‘ve been  kicked.

 

There is a painted message on a wall… F ***  You ! , it says.

 

It took us just a few minutes to feel we were at  the edge of a steep cliff, looking down on darkness below.

I hope the tenants find themselves  at a bad place,  consigned to a life of eternal sorrow.

 

That’s all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much greed and evil

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I’ve been busy . .. no days off last week. It’s okay . I’m saving up for a GoPro and my vacation in the Philippines in February.  I have one or two friends /co-workers coming with me.  They will be my guests , so ….

 

I’m supposed to rant on this post but I changed my mind…. Instead, I donated to DailyKos, an online media and an independent news source that depends on donations from the public.

 

Also,  please pay attention to what’s going on in Asia, specifically SouthEast Asia. It’s the world’s  powder keg that shouldn’t be ignored anymore. Please, please read up.

 

I have nothing else to say, for now.  I managed to restrain myself  from ranting, thank goodness.   To be honest, I’m bad at civil discourses and political correctness.

Never trust. Just do what is right and just, but don’t expect  others to do the same thing.  Be vigilant.  The world is full of  greed and evil.

 

Okay,  Ren, stop now.

 

 

Ha ! ! I’m on $$$ mode ! Totally hyped !

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It’s been a while.

 

I’ve been busy these past few weeks, with only one day off a week, and lots of overtimes.  I’m glad for the extra work, though. I’m planning to buy a GoPro with a selfie stick { he he}  for our planned vacation in the Philippines in February, 2020, with my sister and mother.  Well, it isn’t really a vacation… it’s for some important “family”  business we have to take care of. My mom needs our physical presence and ” signatures” so that she and my aunt can finally transfer family  properties to us.( We are my aunt’s heirs , as well. )  They say they are already old and so they need to keep things in order to avoid  “trouble” , when the “inevitable” comes….. like who will inherit what . My  brother who can’t come with us jokingly  told us” Don’t be greedy, or I’ll sue you. ” I had already shown you guys a photo of our vacation house on Boracay Island ,Philippines.

This is a 3level  house ( the fourth is a view deck, shown above,) 7 bedrooms, 4 toilet/bath, all rooms fully air-conditioned.. The house is already furnished.  Uhm, sorry for shamelessly promoting our house. Ha ha The tenants’ contract ends in 2020, and we’re planning to make it an airbnb. So, if you’re a  reader living in the Philippines, contact me in 2020. (^_^)

 

We have another vacation house in Baguio City, the Cordilleras, Mountain Province. Baguio City is a mountain resort in the Philippines.  Our house is a 3 level one with 4 bedrooms, 3 toilet/baths, and also fully furnished. It’s located high up, with a million dollar view  of the Cordilleras.

That’s me sleeping in the photo above, all covered with blanket. ( It was very cold ) You can also see a great view of the mountains from the veranda, shown above. Also shown above is a row of townhouses where our house is located. There’s no one living there now, but we’re also planning to rent it out, airbnb, soon.

 

Okay, so this post is all about $$$$$$. We have 4 more properties, all tenanted, but they’re   all located in the capital city of Metro-Manila in the Philippines. That’s why it’s very important that we keep things in order and organized .

 

Meanwhile, here’s an update on our tenant problem here in the US..   The tenants have promised to vacate our house on June 23., in a registered letter , signed by the tenant.  My parents have decided to cut their losses and  just wait it out… Our lawyer has warned us not to do anything despite the losses, because there’s always a possibility  of a tenant filing  a malicious lawsuit against a landowner. ( knock on wood)

 

Sorry, guys, I’m suddenly on a business mode… Boring, huh ! Whatever,   I want to decorate ! ! !

 

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Bye and Peace ! !

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Update on Tenant-Landlord Problem

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My parents have lawyered up.

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We are hoping the tenant  doesn’t pay  her rent due in first week of May, so we can kick her out at the end of the month. If she  pays, the 60 day Notice of Termination takes effect…. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE IS  AIMING FOR ! !   Bummer.

 

Meanwhile, my cousin and her husband are staying with us, all ready to move out at the end of the month.  Hubby just graduated from university, and lived  at  the  university dorm but had to vacate after graduation.  His family lives in San Diego, Southern California… I guess they’ll have to live with us for 60 more  days, he he.  This white Italian American husband   has to get used to the smell of adobo cooking in our  kitchen.  ^_^

 

” Kick her out”… Don’t think we’re heartless. She’s been renting for almost 9 years, and has never, ever paid on time ( almost at the end of the month, rent is due first week of the month, and more often then not, not a complete payment). The rent of $1550 is cheap. The going rate for a small 2- bedroom apartment here in our city is about $1,200 to 1,400 /month.  This  house has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a nice swimming pool ( with a cute waterfall, and a slide. ) That $1550 rent just helps my parents out to pay for the house’s  $2,250 monthly mortgage.  Are my parents profiting ? Do the math.

 

There’s now a slight change in my  perspective towards this kind of stuff.  We  have a vacation house on Boracay Island in the Philippines. Boracay is a resort island. Anyway, before construction, we discovered there was a family squatting on our property.  They wouldn’t leave, and even harassed the construction workers who were already at the site with their hammers and spade…. the  squatters , on the other hand,  had  machete in their hands.  ( I leave the scene to your imagination. O_O  )  The corrupt “barangay ” chairman  suggested that we just pay the family to avoid trouble. We gave them 150,000 Philippine pesos. ( $3,000 )  If you’re Filipino reading this,  you know these folks (  squatters/illegal settlers, or to be politically correct, /informal settlers )   feel entitled , right?… like the rest of humanity  owes them something. I’m sorry for saying that.

 

Below is our vacation house. We’re lucky there are South Korean tenants living there whose contract ends in 2020. ( they pay one year  advance…Nice ! ) Do you know that 7-bedroom,  4 baths , 4 -level house is  just  $ 1,500 a month ????  And we’re renting out our house here in the US for $1,550 ! ! Ha ha ha… Housing in the Philippines is so cheap !

 

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Okay, I digress.  My point is, my parents are not that inexperienced re rental business.  They just don’t know US housing laws.

 

Anyway, we leave this to the lawyer.  My siblings and I are going to help with litigation cost.

 

Eh. I talk too much.  Bye for now, and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just one question from me to my dear readers

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My family  has a huge landlord – tenancy problem.  My parents are the landlords.  My cousin and her hubby would like to reside there because why not…  We have “verbally” given notice to the tenant  last March 15  that they should vacate the house by May 31 . My father again reminded the tenant  about this yesterday… but the tenant said ” this is  her house. See you in court,” then closed the door on Dad’s face.

 

This  is the situation.  The original tenants ( 2 ) who signed the lease had moved  out in 2010.  We didn’t even know they had taken in a roommate.  The roommate who was left behind  had asked for  permission  to  live in the house.  My parents  okayed it, but unfortunately , they didn’ t make a new lease agreement. The reason…smooth transition. In other words, it’s a gentleman’s agreement… with a handshake and a smile.

 

My dad is now writing a formal written notice … the tenant threatened  us with a lawsuit,  and that  would cost us at least $10,000.  My father cried because he had been good and patient with her. She has NEVER paid on time, ( always one month late ) and more often than not, it isn’t even a full payment at the end of the month.  ( We also pay the garbage fees and water )

 

Please,is there anyone of my readers  who knows about this stuff ?