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Messy UrbanismUnderstanding the "Other" Cities of Asia$
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Manish Chalana

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208333

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208333.001.0001

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date: 22 August 2017

Concrete Jungle or Geocultural Cipher? Reading Lineage into the Perils and Prospects of Metro Manila

Concrete Jungle or Geocultural Cipher? Reading Lineage into the Perils and Prospects of Metro Manila

Chapter:
(p.61) Chapter 4 Concrete Jungle or Geocultural Cipher? Reading Lineage into the Perils and Prospects of Metro Manila
Source:
Messy Urbanism
Author(s):

José Edgardo A. Gomez

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888208333.003.0004

With a daytime population breaching the 12 million mark, Metropolitan Manila, capital region of the Philippines, presents itself as a sketch of urban anarchy to the casual observer. Despite successful drives in the last decade to tidy its main streets, squalor, din, and recalcitrant slum-dwellers remain ensconced in ill-defined spaces while the rush-hour surge of commuters vies with the tempo of Jakarta and Bangkok for most-gridlocked sprawl in Southeast Asia. Borrowing the approach of forest-canopy scientists, this study initially reframes the messy urbanism as a storeyed-mosaic. It describes the metropolis spatially and experientially, starting with street-level transgressions of hawkers versus pedestrians, through the infrastructure that forms its mid-rise entanglements, and up to the billboards and skyscrapers that hustle to hoard public views, swamping the popular imagination with media icons and subtle temptation. Amid increasingly effective attempts by government to sort out this city-hodgepodge, the author concludes that the forces of order and chaos seem to fall into a deeper pattern of cultural physicality. This alternative decoding of Metro Manila’s landscape resonates with a cosmological schema endemic to Austronesian communities, which suggests an impulse towards a distinct spatial hierarchy that emplaces citizens and artifacts in both the literal and figurative senses.

Keywords:   Urban anarchy, Urban landscapes, Urbanism, Metro Manila

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