This idea crossed my mind recently after an interview I made with Rep. Jerry Treńas-Lone District of Iloilo City in RMN Iloilo. He was talking about the face-lifts he is funding for Calle Real de Iloilo. Of course for those eyes who are not so keen about how these make-overs are done, try visiting JM Basa Street during night time. The new colors and texture of the fascade of these heritage buildings along the street are highlighted by the lights. Its beautiful!
It reminds me of its storied past when Calle Real boasts of its trading and first class products being sold. We were actually once upon a time second to Imperial Manila. Then, the sounds other than the sights are the gallops of the shoes of the horses and the screeching of the wheels of the karetelas. I suppose, I was not born yet that time.
The stretch extends to the Beverly Hills of Iloilo-the Gen. Hudges Street where the moviestars stayed long time ago during movie shoots up to Fuerza del Santo Rosario, the Fort San Pedro which was built during the period of 1600s to resist the foreign forces who would attempt from time to time to attack Iloilo.
Back to Calle Real, I asked the good congressman of his plans about the ambulant vendors along the span selling RTWs, bags, fruits and other things. He explained that his idea of tourism is inclusive that is allowing these vendors to continue selling their goods in order for them to take part of the economic activty in the area.
The notion is supported by an unsolicited statement of a friend who owns one of the biggest chain of department stores in the city though a bit different from the idea of the congressman. He explained that when you take-off the vendors along JM Basa the businesses will suffer. In short, there is a symbiotic relationship that exists between the stores and the stalls among other things.
I am constrained to think though that while the reason of Treńas is valid, politics is essentially a part of it. Afterall, in the Philippines politicians are always considerate of the feelings of the poor not because they need to live with dignity but their votes are important. Any body who makes their lives miserable will suffer the curse of being labelled elitist or worst anti-poor. Of course, the preceding statements are off-course and a separate topic in this discussion.
If we have funded the restoration of these heritage buildings for the appreciation history and culture, why can’t we fund fully the construction of a much better kiosk that would be consistent to the architecture of the area? Afterall, we do not want to take them away and put them in a separate place where they can do business.
Instead of allowing the green make-shift talipapas with the labels of either Sulong or Uswag Iloilo! to accomodate the political taglines of the city’s leaders, a separate fund should be allocated to provide these vendors a decent and much-safer store.(And by the way, the city should not allow by all means vendors to put up their karitons along the roads as it defies safety and adds to the congenstion of the flow of traffic.)
I am not an authority to speak of this but in my opinion the restoration of history, culture and the arts especially when using public funds should be done with uniformity and consistency. Really, I have yet to see an 18th or 19th century stuff with a print of Sulong and Uswag!
And if we are to consider the welfare of the masses by including them in these tourism endeavors, l suggest that we integrate their economic activities in the proper context of the restoration and not just by simply allowing them to continue what they have been doing.