Harvard design professor asks: Don't Metro Manila commuters know they deserve better?
MANILA, Philippines – Don't Metro Manila commuters know they deserve so much better?
This is the resonating message of Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) professor Špela Videčnik in the Manila: Future Habitations forum on Tuesday, February 6.
For her speech, she recounted what she saw in her commute from the airport when they arrived from the United States.
"A lot of people queuing to get to the public transport, the queue was enormous, wearing masks on motorbikes and all the traffic for me was really a question: How can these people don't know they deserve something really better?" asked Videčnik at the Ayuntamiento de Manila marble room, full of people which reacted with applause to her question.
"For me, coming from Europe, in my city I bike to my work and my small little kids go to school walking, it was really a question for me, we were stuck for 2 hours for 5 kilometers," she said, triggering laughter from the audience.
Videčnik is visiting Metro Manila with some 30 students of Harvard GSD for their student lab. They have stayed in the Philippines' capital region for one and a half weeks already, conducting field work for projects that would aid urban planning.
She said her stay has really made her realize that urban planners need to ask harder questions to make urban living better, just like how they can form public spaces given that green spaces are locked by gated communities.
Despite the saddening state of infrastructure, she said she found beauty in Filipinos who worked hard in the city.
She provided the example of Filipinos who built their own homes in the slums.
"But looking out, you see a beauty, beauty in this architecture made not by architects (but by) how the people found materials and recycled to make their homes full of colors, and the proportions are in a way beautiful," Videčnik said.
"You see all the colors and diversity of people and somehow the faces in the streets seem smiling and happy, and this charm is something that makes this city have its own identity," she added. – Rappler.com