The Aquino administration has really pulled out all stops to create a lasting impression of a great Metro Manila and Philippines for dignitaries attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC). The bright boys of the administration also found in this occasion a golden opportunity to correct misimpressions created by critics and project the country’s true image.
For one, the visitors might be leaving Metro Manila completely doubtful of the metro’s dubious reputation of having the worst traffic in the world. Why, they probably could not move as fast in their respective countries! Whoever described traffic in Manila as hellish must be completely blind or just hate Aquino very much. Traffic is very smooth. They do not see any bumper-to-bumper traffic, contrary to descriptions made by the incurable critics of the Aquino administration. Why, they might even consider the Metro Manila traffic the best in the world!
The visitors, however, might be wondering how come there are very few motor vehicles in the city. The presence of many vehicles is a sign of progress and they could hardly believe that the country has retrogressed under the supposed “Straight Path” (Tuwid na Daan) being followed by the President.
The very important visitors might also be wondering how come their police escorts are using their sirens when they already have the roads all to themselves! Oh well, charge that to the exuberance of their escorts.
The APEC summit also gives the visitors the real picture of the Philippines as a peaceful country, contrary to its disparaging ranking by the Global Peace Index as the second most violent country in the Asia-Pacific, next only to North Korea. They see hundreds of police officers everywhere they go and are thus reassured that no horrible incident like what Paris recently had would ever happen in Manila.
Oh yes, the administration showed its kind heartedness in condoling with France on this tragedy. Some inveterate critics might wonder how come the Aquino administration never showed much sympathy for victims of the Luisita Massacre, the Mamasapano Massacre and the massacre of Lumads in Mindanao. Ah, but the victims here are Filipinos, and that’s a big difference.
Oh, but I keep on digressing. Going back to the APEC, the delegates might have heard some loose talks of urban blight in Metro Manila but they saw none of it. Why, they see no beggars or vagabonds on the streets which were very tidy. Thanks to the administration, they got to see the real Metro Manila – a beautiful, clean city without any beggars. The bright boys of the administration must have learned a lot from former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos whom they continue to revile.
Sure, there had been beggars before APEC but the caring officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development couldn’t bear to see them on the streets. So, they rounded up all of them and gave them food and shelter in a place far from sight of the visitors. I can almost hear the drumbeaters of the administration saying those rounded up were actually rescued and were very thankful for the assistance given them.
The Yellows could also be singing praises to thousands of workers–and executives too– who willingly walked kilometers to reach their places of work. They could be saying that these selfless, patriotic ordinary Filipinos knew that their sacrifices during the APEC summit would be compensated by more jobs and better pay in the future. Anyway, their sacrifices lasted only a few days. What’s more, buhay pa sila, di ba?
The P10 billion spent by the government for the APEC and the extent to which the administration tried to put its best foot forward during the event bares one of its real traits: Pakitang tao. The real Metro Manila will be seen once the APEC is over.
And how about the hope of the administration that the people will realize more food on the table and more livelihood after the APEC? There’s a contemporary phrase for this: