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Showing posts from June, 2011

The dystopia that awaits us all?

After takeoff, as the aircraft gained height, Metro Manila gradually came into view: a grey jumble of human habitation punctuated by clustered skyscrapers, intersected by meanders of a noxious-looking, mustard-coloured river, sprawling across an enormous plain bounded on the west side by the sea and in other directions not at all, further than the eye could see, eventually obscured by pollution haze and clouds.

Making life bearable in this monster megacity is just one aspect of the problems faced by President Aquino's government. Already it is home to upwards of 15 million people and it is growing all the time as the burgeoning Filipino population drifts to the cities in hope of making a living. As it grows, so do the problems.

Is Metro Manila a premonition of things to come for our species? If global population growth proceeds as forecast, then yes. Population growth threatens to render all our efforts to tackle individual basic needs – food, water, housing, air fit to breathe, d…

Thoughts from Manila about remarkable people

Even to me, a foreigner, here in Manila the significance of President “Noynoy” Aquino’s government having made today a national holiday to mark the 150th anniversary of José Rizal’s birth is obvious. Rizal was a man of many talents and republican convictions who opposed colonial rule until executed by Spanish firing squad in 1896. The current President’s father Benigno (“Ninoy”) Aquino was the Liberal Party leader who returned from exile in 1983 to oppose US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos, only to be assassinated as he arrived at Manila airport. I suspect that for ordinary Filipinos both murdered men have hero status bearing comparison with President John F Kennedy for Americans.

The current President took a little time off from affairs of state to welcome Liberal delegates from around the world to his palace last Saturday and give the keynote speech of Liberal International Congress. He seemed to me an unassuming man, and my impression is reinforced by reading that when asked what h…