A Letter to the Mayor

No city is flawless.

No matter how simple or advanced it may be, its people will still find reasons to complain about something – horrendous traffic jams, lack of green spaces, expensive cost of living, the occasional delay of the trains even by one minute, among many others, can be a cause of dissatisfaction for the population.

Oftentimes, however, people complain about the issues of their communities to their families, friends, and colleagues; post their exasperation on social media – and that’s perfectly all right – but seldom do they discuss these issues to the agent that can (hopefully) give a resolution – the city government itself.

I reside in the one of the big cities of the country, and I have my fair share of discontent.  I’ve lived here for a long time, but it was only last year that I had the idea of contacting the city mayor.  It happened that I finally grew tired of enduring some of my city’s problems namely traffic, trash, stray animals, and illegal vendors.

And I guess that’s the problem with many of us – we endure things that shouldn’t be put up with.  We let these tiny things pass, thinking that they will eventually go away.  But they don’t; instead they pile up and become worse, and although we are faced with these unpleasant situations, we become too familiar with them until they pervade the system and become part of our daily lives.  A culture.  Eh ganun na talaga eh. 

Below is a copy of the letter I wrote to our mayor.   I intended to write him as early as May last year, but I only got to write down my observations and complaints sometime last October 2014.  I sent it via the official email address written in the city government’s website.  I wanted to send a copy of the email to the Metro Manila Development Authority, too but the only contact details it had on the website were telephone numbers (as if the Chairman would really talk to me on the phone to discuss my concerns).  I sent a copy of the letter to the vice mayor, just for good measure.

It is quite long, but I had the slightest hope that despite its length, the authorities will take time to read it, and hopefully, act upon the issues contained therein.  Unfortunately, five months have passed and I have yet to hear a word from them.  Maybe the mayor and the vice mayor are swamped with work.  Maybe the official website was not updated and my email got lost in cyberspace.  Maybe they did read it but did not even have the time to acknowledge it.  Whatever the reason for their lack of response, I do not know. What I do know is that it is just frustrating and disappointing.   It makes me wonder then that if this simple act of communication is not acted upon, how much more the bigger things?

This is one major reason why people resort to mass media as a way to resolve social issues.  The authorities are not doing what they should be doing; let us report them to TV Patrol!    And most of the time, it works!  Watch the news or listen to the AM radio and you will hear all sorts of complaints about the government or an agency’s non-action and several weeks after (sometimes it doesn’t even take days), a bridge is fixed, a manhole is covered up, a road is repaired.

Does the local government really need to be poked by the media before they take action?  Should the authorities be shamed first before they can fulfill their responsibilities?  Can’t they have more initiative?  Be more proactive?  Be more sensitive?

I am posting my letter not because I have hopes that it would finally get to its destination and get noticed.  No, I’m merely venting out, but if it does land on the proper desk, then that’s good.  If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.  I do hope though that people who may read this post may also be encouraged to let their voices out.  Speak up against things that they think are wrong.  Speak up to praise things that have been done right.   Writing a simple letter is merely one small way of showing that you care.  Because if the authorities don’t, and we don’t too, who else will?

(Note: In the interest of fairness, months after I had sent my email, I noticed some changes in some areas: a spot near the Sandiganbayan Footbridge got cleaned up (there used to be just piles of trash and soil there!), exit and entry signs have been put up at the Commonwealth service road, and no more illegal vendors on a certain footbridge on the same road.  However, lots of vendors mushroomed on a sidewalk near that footbridge, which makes me think that the old footbridge vendors only transferred there.  Also, there still much to be done about the proper and stricter implementation of loading and unloading practices.

Has my letter been read after all?  I don’t know.  There’s no way of telling, but at least, I’ve seen some slight changes!  Nevertheless, much work still needs to be done.)

ps. Some details have been removed for privacy reasons.


Dear Mayor Herbert Bautista:

Good day!

My name is […] every day, when I go to work, I am assaulted by some of the different challenges that our city needs to address.

Cleanliness, traffic jams, illegal vendors, and stray animals –  these are a few things that I would like to bring to your attention, sir.  And I hope that you would take the time to read the concerns of a constituent whose primary intention is the same as yours: to make QC better.

Cleanliness:

Many places in QC are littered with garbage whether they may be a main thoroughfare, a tiny street corner, waterways, and even footbridges.  One of the biggest questions I have in mind when it comes to cleanliness is this: why can’t there be any trash bins scattered around the city instead?  I’ve seen big cigarette bins (courtesy of MMDA) in some parts of Commonwealth – which is rather ironic because we have anti-smoking campaigns – but not trash bins.  

Why can’t we do the same thing for our litter problem?  I think having trash cans can help solve it a bit.  Apart from the apathy that some people have about the environment, I think one simple reason that people litter, too, is the absence of a place where they can dump their trash!  Not everyone can simply keep their trash inside their bags, and definitely not all trash can be kept inside a bag, so having properly segregated trash bins can help in lessening trash in the streets.  Huge “’Wag magtapon ng basura dito” signs are utterly useless if we cannot point the proper place where people can actually throw their garbage.  By placing trash bins, you will be able to train the people to be more responsible, make the street sweepers’ job relatively easier, and make the surroundings cleaner.

On another note, may I also know what’s being done with the money being collected when we purchase plastic bags from some stores?  Also, QC has recycling programs too, am I right?  Has it been effective in reducing the waste of the city?

Traffic:

I use public transportation and every time I go to work, I encounter dreadful traffic jams along Commonwealth Ave.  Despite its vastness, it still gets heavily congested especially the lanes dedicated to PUVs.  From Litex until Sandiganbayan, for instance, the service lanes are cramped with buses and jeepneys that carelessly pick up and drop off passengers anywhere they please.  The traffic enforcers who are supposed to manage traffic simply look on and wave their hands to the drivers gesturing them to move, which PUV drivers do not heed, anyway.  Also, since the service road is often blocked, some drivers then pick up and drop off passengers outside of the service road, blocking traffic there as well!

There are also numerous loading stations along that stretch of road but only very few of them are used.  The lack of discipline by the drivers is further amplified by the lack of discipline by some commuters who hail their ride under footbridges or on the street itself instead.  People then occupy a significant portion of the road, run after buses and jeeps, and jostle their way just to be able to hitch a ride!  It’s impossible!

And that’s just a small portion of the southbound lane of Commonwealth Ave.    On the other side of the street, in front of Ever Commonwealth for example, the same thing happens:  there’s no fixed area where the commuters can wait for a ride forcing them to wait on the road instead.  Many jeepneys, on the other hand, use the loading/unloading zone as their terminals and parking space.  Both commuters and jeepneys then have to play patintero with each other.  And the buses?  As always, they drop off / pick up their passengers in the middle of the road, blocking numerous vehicles behind them.  While all this chaos is happening, the traffic enforcers are either just standing there or reminding the drivers and commuters with the use of a megaphone to move forward or walk further!

Illegal vendors:

There are traffic jams on the streets and they’re also present on footbridges!  Illegal vendors occupy the space that is supposed to be for pedestrians.  People cannot walk properly because they have to avoid products that are either sprawled on mats or placed on stands attached to the fence of the footbridge.  So, on the footbridge, you have to avoid two things: piles of garbage and an assortment of merchandise!

Stray animals:

Everywhere you look, there are dogs and cats that roam our streets.  Many of them are neglected by their irresponsible owners and are left to suffer and/or fend for themselves.  They live in danger all the time, and some unfortunate ones end up as road kills.   Do we have a decent animal shelter that can take care of these helpless animals?  Is it possible to have an affordable neutering / spaying program for dogs and cats in QC, so that the population of these animals can also be controlled?

The issues I have raised are not new problems.  They have been here for a long time.  What I don’t understand is why until now, despite the numerous change in leadership, these problems persist.

I can see some improvements here and there (Manggahan and Litex have become a little bit cleaner since summer of this year) but overall, it seems like things have pretty much remained the same at least in the areas I have mentioned.

As I have said, I have lived in QC all my life.  I know I should have gotten used to this mess somehow, but I haven’t, and I refuse to get used to it because this is not how a decent city is supposed to be!

Quezon City has recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary.  I hope it doesn’t take another 75 years to see some real changes around here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  God Bless.

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