All Roads lead to Metro Manila | Daily Prompt: From the Collection of the Artist

It’s the year 2113. A major museum is running an exhibition on life and culture as it was in 2013. You’re asked to write an introduction for the show’s brochure. What will it say?

(Admittedly, I’m not as well-versed in most of the world issues so I’ll address the ones found in my country. I hope that is understandable and allowed.)

The Philippines remembers 2013 with such fondness for that was the year of a strange fixation.

We, as a nation, set our sights on thoroughfares, both great and small. While those abroad say that all roads lead to Rome, we Filipinos say that all roads lead to Metro Manila. And that is why—surprise, surprise—we have so much traffic in the capital.

Jog your memory for a while and see if you can remember an organization called Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Their decisions a century ago resulted to what we have now in this same city. But, as this is Metro Manila, it was not just the MMDA who had their way on the highway. Local government units could impose strict laws that could only be implemented in their cities and never be found nor followed elsewhere.

Can you just imagine the chaos then?

People had to live with such terrible hassle and confusion. They had to make sense of the changes in traffic laws that seem to happen overnight. And one of the ways that they employed to do so was to take the trains, which back then was known as the Light Railway Transit (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).

But with people flocking to elevated train tracks—not to mention cars that were over two decades old by that time—took such a toll on the maintenance that management had to call a fare hike, a move that divided the people in more ways than one.

Such turmoil is reflected in the art of that era. Crowded details, troubled visages, and puzzled Filipinos are just some of the key and familiar elements of the pieces that you would see in this section of the gallery. Recognizable pot holes and legendary traffic hot spots still steal the spotlight. And the deathless Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) remains the Mona Lisa of this period.

Also, if you have a keen sense of history, you can spot a figure or two that were crucial to the changes and confusion that beset the people of that year.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Well done on the prompt!


    1. Mati Serrano says:

      Thank you so much!


  2. mobibrad says:

    while we cannot deny the chaotic city we live in, don’t you think writing an introductory brochure in this tone would put people off?

    or perhaps they might be intrigued to find out more. hmmmm 🙂


    1. Mati Serrano says:

      There is a hint of sarcasm to it.
      I believe that tone could only be removed in two ways: I do not talk about this (like some of our officials) or I deny it all (like the rest of the officials). We’re a fun bunch in the metro, aren’t we?
      That’s why I believe they would never pick this entry. Bad for the art. I strike too close for comfort.


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