The Next Unlivable City?

Manila is quickly turning into an unlivable city due to unsustainable economic development, rapid urbanization and poor governance.

Manila is getting accustomed to receiving many global distinctions lately. However, Filipinos shouldn’t feel proud of these titles.

In the 2017 Global Least and Most Stressful Cities Rankings published by a private research firm in the U.K., Manila is ranked as the 10th most stressful city in the world. Traffic, unemployment, security, pollution, among others, were identified as the main factors affecting stress levels of surveyed individuals in the study.

Not too long ago, from years 2011 to 2013, the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was hailed as the World's Worst Airport.

It is not altogether surprising that Dan Brown, author of the best-selling book "The Da Vinci Code," described Manila as "the gates of hell" in his 2013 publication "Inferno."

In reality, Manila is quickly turning into an unlivable city due to unsustainable economic development, rapid urbanization and poor governance. This is despite ongoing efforts from the government to control the situation from further escalating.

The country’s planning agencies are moving towards creating new metro cities and fostering developments at the countryside. This is to generate an attraction for those in the rural areas to stay behind for employment.

Legislators are also pushing for the implementation of a compressed four-day work week in order to ease traffic conditions during weekdays.

Some government agencies are even moving their operations outside of Metro Manila as part of decongestion initiatives.

These laudable efforts may have significant bearing towards lessening the burdens of living in Manila. However, these are not enough.

Concerted action is needed to make Manila a livable city again. Concerted action from all stakeholders is just no longer an option today but a must if we want Manila to restore its historical beauty and standing as a viable destination. This concerted action will require immediate resolve, long-term commitment and sustained citizen engagement.

All stakeholders must be willing to participate towards the completion of planned infrastructure projects. This will call for government to fast track the conduct of feasibility studies, master plans, and construction of these projects. This will demand contractors to start and end their projects on-time. This will entail sacrifices on the part of the commuting public who are due to be inconvenienced during the construction phase of these projects.

It is equally imperative for all to participate and commit to an urban renewal and redevelopment master plan. For this to happen, the government needs to allocate a substantial budget on a year-in and year-out basis. Citizens must also clamor for the need of a master plan. Most importantly, all stakeholders must actively take part in the programs and policies that will be borne out of these plans.

Time is running fast and our patience is running thin with the living conditions in Manila. There is no better time to act than now. We have a President who promised that "Change is coming." Changes must come now to Manila, or it may never.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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