Is This the Philippines or What?


I was awestruck when I first saw the renovated Podium Mall over the weekend. Its escalator ramps spiral upward so imposingly, they seem to lift me up as I gazed agape to the glass roof. It is an impressive expression of Filipino creativity to be able to come up with such a magnificently designed and built structure. It is indeed something to be proud of.

And as I was looking up and around, I kept asking myself, “Am I indeed in the Philippines?” Such grandeur and beauty cannot be happening here where we lag behind most of our Asian neighbors. This must be meant for the upper one percent of the population. For many others, it is the aspirational vision of the kind of life they want for themselves and for their families. And for many, it must be an unreachable fantasy that mocks them in their illiteracy, ignorance and poverty.

I felt like Philippine reality is made up of several parallel universes, all existing at the same, in the same place, and yet never really interacting with each other. I live oblivious to the poverty and pain of many of our country men. I walk cheek by jowl with the super affluent, never really knowing the opulence they exist in. And somehow these parallel universes intersect in a few places like the inside of the newly renovated Podium Mall.

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