Billboards, Malls and Pochero
EVERYONE here in Manila has been talking about all of the gigantic billboards that were blown down suring the Mileyno typhoon 11 days ago. Several people were killed by the falling debris, and then suddenly everyone was ready to give their two-cents worth about what should be done. From pundits and politicians the cry was the same: Abolish the damn billboards!!
But many cynics observed that this was just going to be a temporary blip of outrage until the memories of fallen billboards were forgotten and companies began advertising on them again.
Fellow blogger and writer Jessica Zafra told me over coffee in Greenbelt last week that she was still without electricity six days after a huge Pancake House billboard came crashing down during the mega-storm, bringing down several electricity poles along the way. Generators provided only enough juice to allow her to blog and run an electric fan. But no air-conditioning.
I VISITED the Mall of Asia last week, billed as the world’s six largest mall at a whopping 60 hectares. Owned by the Shoemart Group of companies, the mall is in the reclamation area on Roxas Boulevard and benefits from not feeling like your usual SM shoebox mall.
Large skylights allow much light in throughout the mall, giving it a relaxed atmosphere.
Large groups of college students were there eating lunch the day I went, since the mall is accessible by bus and jeepneys.
THE meeting of bloggers at Shangri-La Edsa Mall went well on Saturday. Manolo Quezon III, Mong Palatino, Julie Javellana-Santos, Susan “Toots” Ople, Leah Navarro, and Dean Jorge Bocobo were among those who attended.
Toots is spearheading a campaign to get more Overseas Filipino Workers registered for the elections next year. The deadline for registration is Oct. 30, so I urge all Filipinos living abroad to register as soon as possible at their nearest Philippine embassy or consulate if they haven’t already.
OFWs in the Philippines can also register at the POEA or even at the airport while leaving the country.
Groups such as Toots’ have been having problems with the Commission on Elections as it seems the person in charge of overseas voting has left the Comelec and no one seems that interested in leading an information campaign to encourage OFWs to register and then vote next year.
IF one is to believe rumors coming out of Malacanang Palace these days, OFWs may not even get a chance to vote next year if Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia gets his way with Charter Change. Reliable sources say that he has told President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo she must pressure the Supreme Court justices to vote “yes” on the People’s Initiative on Charter Change, or see him support an impeachment bid against her in Congress next year.
Several of the justices are reportedly still undecided which way to vote on the initiative, with some pundits predicting a close vote that could go either way by a margin of just one vote.
Those who oppose Charter Change are presenting their case and arguments of why the Philippines should NOT switch to a parliamentary system on Wednesday before the Supreme Court. Having spent four days poring over the hundreds of boxes containing the signatures gathered nationwide for the initiative, they have found plenty of instances of forged signatures to throw the whole exercise into doubt.
But Manolo told me that despite the many disqualified signatures, the supporters of Charter Change could possibly still have gathered the required minimum of 3 percent of voters’ signatures required for a People’s Initiative to prosper.
If the Supreme Court upholds the People’s Initiative, the opposition has promised to call immediate street protests.
FINALLY, I ate a delicious “pochero” on Saturday night at Cafe Juanita in Capitolio, Pasig. The restaurant is a two-storey house that has been converted into one of the kitschiest of places I have seen.
Crammed with decorative objects from ceiling to floor, the place was utterly charming and a delight to dine in!
The food was excellent, and my dinner companions Manolo, JV Rufino and a Brazilian friend of Manolo’s from his high school days were also excellent. Manolo recounted to us the series of funny dogs he has had as pets, and I mentioned the Saluki dog I imported to Manila in 2000 when I lived here for six months. It was an excellent evening, and I highly recommend the restaurant to anyone tired of run-of-the-mill establishments.