Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada envisions the Philippine capital to be as clean and orderly as Tokyo and Hong Kong and wants it to be his legacy when he retires from public service.
On Tuesday, Estrada said it is not a tall order to regain Manila’s long-lost beauty and old glory because all it requires from every Manileño is discipline and concern to their city.
The mayor wants it to happen “because this is my last hurrah [in public service]… I was born here. I want to bring back the old glory of Manila, the old Manila that was called the Pearl of the Orient.
“It is the capital city of our country… [and I will do it] even if I have to sacrifice my life just to bring back the old glory of Manila,” Estrada added.
The city government’s recent road and sidewalk clearing operations, which has driven away more than 3,500 illegal vendors and removed countless obstructions and illegal structures, has the mayor longing for order in the city.
Estrada said the time has come to clear precious road spaces that have been occupied by illegal vendors, to clean up the city and relieve traffic congestion in Manila’s thoroughfares.
He has personally led clearing operations in Divisoria, Blumentritt, Quiapo, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, R-10, and Pedro Gil, among others, and major roads leading to and from the Port of Manila. He also cleaned up the University Belt weeks before the opening of classes last June.
The mayor said he has personally observed how clean the capital city of Japan is.
“I looked around to see why Tokyo remains one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities. You cold not see any trash, not even in the sidewalks, the streets look beautiful,” he said, adding that Hong Kong and Singapore are also similar to Tokyo in terms of cleanliness.
This is the reason, Estrada said, why he is scolding thousands of vendors in Manila’s markets who could not even clean up their own mess.
“That’s why I scolded the vendors here. What would the tourists say? Why could the Chinese do it that their surroundings are clean? We Filipinos, we cannot do it? What would they say? The Filipinos are pigs, isn’t it? Shame on us,” he stressed.
Estrada opined that Filipinos’ lack of concern for cleanliness and personal hygiene may be attributed to their upbringing.
He recalled that when he was young, his mother, the late Doña Mary Ejercito, would berate him whenever she saw their toilet dirty. So when he became mayor, Estrada said he renovated the city hall’s public toilets and had it kept spotlessly clean all the time.
“All toilets here are made of marble. That’s why I remember my mother. That’s the example of upbringing,” he said.
“The Chinese, Germans, they are clean. I am appealing to the vendors. Clean your surroundings. However, this is just temporary, and they go back to what they usually do,” Estrada lamented.
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