Saturday, July 24, 2004

Hear yuppies come

Robert JA Basilio Jr. worries about the upscaling of UP's outlying areas in today's Manila Times, noting that "if such growth continues, the beloved, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, unpretentious neighborhoods around UP may finally become transmogrified into Quezon City’s version of Greenbelt."

Some time ago Psychicpants also expressed the same sentiments with regard to Virra Mall in Greenhills, which has undergone a facelift aimed at more accurately reflecting the status of its upmarket customers. Even Cubao, the seemingly impregnable redoubt of urban decrepitude, has joined the fray: COD kicked out, Araneta Coliseum rebuffed, Fiesta Carnival excised and a mall looking suspiciously like Glorietta now under construction.

Development is all well and good, sure, but why do we feel pangs of loss when the lift trucks come and begin the transformation from decrepitude to world-class? One, of course, is that not all can afford things world-class. When a place goes upscale, people who used to frequent it do not necessarily enjoy concomitant upward social mobility. They are, so to speak, left behind while yuppies--and Koreans, Basilio pointed out-- swarm all over the place. Also, after some time, one gets tired of the same American antiseptic architecture in malls, business centers etc. and begins longing for a more idyllic and simpler past. This feeling is probably akin to what the hobbits might have felt when Saruman employed all labor force to develop the Fanghorn forest.

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