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As I See It

Those ugly murals under the Edsa flyovers

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Dear MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino:

Was it you who authorized those ugly murals under the Cubao flyover and on the perimeter fence of San Lorenzo Village in Makati along Edsa? Or was it the Department of Public Works and Highways or the local government units? Whoever, please have them removed immediately because they contribute to the “uglification” of Metro Manila.

Metro Manila, with certain exceptions, is ugly enough as it is, why make it uglier with those monstrous murals? The one at Cubao shows nothing but the ugly undersides of buildings and flyovers with plumbing and pipes very prominent among them. What for? You know what those plumbing fixtures do in real life? They carry the —-, you know what, from all the residences and buildings all around. The undersides of flyovers are ugly enough with them so dark. What they need is light, not ugly murals.

The mural at San Lorenzo shows organisms that live under the seas, not beautiful corals and colorful fish but the more unsightly ones. Some of them look like giant worms and snakes ready to pounce.

They are enough to give children nightmares. Once I was riding a bus going south on Edsa. When the bus got out of the dark underpass, a mother who had a child with her put her hands over her son’s eyes so he would not see the ugly mural on the wall. When she saw me looking at them, she explained: “They give him nightmares.”

Chairman Tolentino, if you are the one responsible for those ugly murals, please have them removed or painted over immediately so they don’t give nightmares to children and the creeps to adults. If it wasn’t you, please accept my apologies for making a mistake. If it wasn’t you, who did?

Who decided what those murals would portray? Was it you?

Probably the artist. I don’t know who the “artist” or “artists” are but did they show you studies of the murals before starting on the project? Did you study them or even looked at them? If you did, what did you think? What did you think they would add to the undersides of flyovers and the fences of villages? Did you approve them?

Signs on the murals say they are a project of Boysen paints. So Boysen must have donated the paints, probably the unsalable ones. The Cubao mural is in monotonous brown while the one in Makati is in dirty green. Does the paint company have an oversupply of these colors?

If the government wants to have murals under the flyovers, why not show the beauty of the Philippines? Perhaps, that would help the efforts of the Department of Tourism to promote tourism. Why not show the beautiful countryside: the fields, the farmers toiling in the fields, the sea and the beaches, the hills and mountains, the rural villages with their nipa huts and farm animals, the orchards with trees heavy with fruits, the brooks and rivers, the town fiestas, the churches and churchyards during these fiestas, the marketplaces, the old Spanish towns like Vigan, Taal and Intramuros, Christmas and santacruzans in the Philippines? There are so many beautiful sceneries in the Philippines to paint, why paint ugly plumbing under the buildings and scary worms and snakes?

The mural on the fence of the Aquino Wildlife Park in Quezon City, now that is something else. It shows animals and fish, mostly dolphins. Why couldn’t the Edsa muralists do something like that?

I’ll tell you why. Because it is easy to paint pipes and unseen undersea creatures. People can’t compare them with the real ones. The muralists are cheating. They probably can’t paint nipa huts and farm animals and therefore chose to paint objects unfamiliar to the people.

And how much is the government spending for those ugly murals? Probably nothing for the paints but plenty for the wages of the jobless muralists. Those painters can be put to work painting the beautiful Philippines instead. Why waste money on projects that make the metropolis ugly?

Why not use the money instead to put more lights under the flyovers and on the pedestrian overpasses? There are lights there, but they are obviously not enough. These places are still dark. A pedestrian can be hit by passing vehicles or held up in these dark places. That is why many pedestrians would rather risk crossing the street rather than use the overpass. My own granddaughter was held up and her cellphone taken away from her on the Philcoa overpass. The overpass at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Tandang Sora is dark at night. The same goes for other overpasses on Commonwealth Avenue so that hardly anyone uses them at night.

Putting white ceramic tiles on the sides of flyovers and underpasses would be correct. They would add a little more light because the white tiles reflect light. But they have to be cleaned regularly because the exhausts and the water splashes made by passing vehicles during the rainy season make the tiles dirty. Also, after some time, the tiles peel off and, if not replaced, we would have those underpasses with missing tiles, like neglected bathrooms, and they would add to the “uglification” of the metropolis.

Then we have the street islands. When the Congressional Avenue Extension was newly finished, informal settlers planted vegetables (camote, okra, etc. ) on these islands. Then a horde of workers from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority descended on them and uprooted the vegetables and replaced them with grass. Now more MMDA workers have to cut the grass regularly, thus government has to spend more money for their wages.

Why not allow informal settlers to use these islands for their vegetable plants? At least the vegetables would add to their food. Isn’t the government encouraging urban gardening? That was urban gardening being done by informal settlers, why did the MMDA stop them?


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