In the eye of the beholder

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  • Published 20071204
  • ISBN: 9780733321276
  • Extent: 280 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I WOULD NOT call Pasay a slum. Calling or not calling Pasay City a slum would assume the ability to make a clear distinction between an overcrowded neighbourhood and a crowded one, between unacceptable housing and acceptable housing. I cannot make that distinction but I would not call Pasay a slum: it is not on top of Garbage Mountain. I would describe Pasay as a poor and bustling municipality of Manila, one with problems.

Of course, distinctions are made. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and development agencies use indicators, some Western journalists and tourists use their observations to call Manila a ‘gigantic slum of a city’. It is a shame, somehow, that a value system – whether it is mathematical, cultural or personal – can be used to approach a place like metropolitan Manila.

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