Rising like the Phoenix

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - June 19, 2014 - 12:00am

A great portion of Barangay Lorega-San Miguel, which was razed down by a horrible fire several months ago, is now starting to rise from the ashes, Phoenix-like. This is most noticeable for those who cruise along Imus Street. Structures of apparently various concepts begin to take form. Most owners erect concrete pillars and use hollow blocks and it looks like some of them are constructing multi storey buildings. However these structures shall be completed, they are vastly different from the previous homes that were gobbled by the conflagration.

The pace with which these constructions are being built can only be attributable to the indomitable spirit of the residents. We saw that as soon as the fire was put out, rather than sulk in desperation, they scrambled to secure their places and with unbelievable determination, salvaged from the ruins what could still be used for reconstruction. They might have reeled from the catastrophe, but to the amazement of all, they were almost revved up, as quickly, to begin rebuilding their dwellings.

Government response, not only in terms of the usual immediate form of relief like foodstuff, was as fast. The city administration of His Honor, Mayor Michael L. Rama directed the reapportionment of the space with the objective to accommodate everybody considering that a part of the burnt area has to yield to the need to widen the road. And when indeed, a wider road was made serviceable, it distributed housing materials, which, though minimal, helped the residents in their reconstruction effort.

Ironically, it was the desire of the fire victims and the city government to rebuild the burnt part of Lorega-San Miguel quickly that led them to lose the golden opportunity to establish a more comfortable urban living. Yes, there was the urgent need of the fire victims to put up roofs over their heads to protect them from the vagaries of sudden weather changes. In reacting to the demands, people (and yes, government leaders) forgot to consider better urban planning.

Is it not that even socialized housing projects of small areas start from raw lands? Some hills are leveled here and there. Road networks are opened and buildings are planned and built maximizing available spaces without forgetting to assign open areas, and places for such amenities as market.

The size of the Lorega-San Miguel that was gutted by the fire could have been developed as if it were a site of a modern housing project without the government necessarily losing the dominion over the land. The money that was spent by government to buy housing materials for distribution could have been the seed fund for a multi level building where the families who were victimized by the fire could be relocated. There could have been no bitter acrimony among residents who felt that their former home-lot areas had been either reduced or increased because all would be situated in residences of similar sizes.

True, this is the benefit of hindsight. We now can say that had people and government not acted, though justifiably, out of haste, we could have achieved a result, far different from what is now rising at the burnt site. A complex multi storey residence, designed according to more aesthetic concepts, built with the end of satisfying the demands of basic health and safe standards could have risen. 

Yet, while this is purely hindsight in so far as the Lorega-San Miguel situation is concerned, government leaders can put together a similar plan of action for purposes of those informal settlers who have to be relocated. There are, in our midst, many less-privileged families whose homes are due for demolition either because they occupy privately-owned lots whose owners now want to use them or they have settled in places, like rivers and roads, where structures are prohibited. In finding places to relocate them, we will have the chance to provide whatever amenities we missed to put up in rebuilding Lorega-San Miguel. And then we shall see what rising like the Phoenix really means.


Email: aa.piramide@gmail.com.

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