Something really bothered me last night and for the first time I was thankful I had this seclusion to think.

I was watching UZ (Urban Zone) with my mother and nostalgia hit me right away in the opening billboard sequence. Shots of the host juxtaposed with contemporary furniture, and I noticed most (if not all) of them were from my boss’s…well my ex-boss. That surprised me a little bit but that wasn’t what kept me up with a frown all night.

One of the segments featured AyalaLand Community Innovations Project: Two Serendra and boasted: provides the perfect setting for vibrant modern living. The host (whom I have nothing against of) interviewed this woman who talked about the said project. The visuals for the segment shifted from the host and that woman’s interview to shots of some of the units in the building, the mock-up model of the entire community and a computer-generated tour thru the planned outcome. For a while now, I’ve never really shunned the dream of living in a condo myself, being comfortable and yes, maybe happy. But this has changed until after watching the show.

Before the show, I was in my room with Chai, for her requested binge. I went out to fetch some cold water and some chocolate and noticed my mother in the sala, asleep. She must’ve dozed off while watching another one of those shows she can't really relate to but had no choice. She looked rather peaceful asleep, in fact she’s never looked as peaceful when awake and that made me miss her.

So I sat next to her old rubber-allergic feet (like mine) and switched channels. The next channel already had news on so I thought I’d linger and see what’s been happening in the country: super typhoon Egay and her work, dead marines and “rebels” after an encounter in Mindanao (with exclusive footage), further demolition of houses under bridges along creeks and canals to prevent floods, etc.. Soon the news was on entertainment so I flicked to the rival station, a movie feature: Judge Dredd. For some reason, Sylvester Stallone’s distinct voice and face made me stay and watch more of the old comic-turned-movie type of film and noticed Diane Lane was the leading lady. I never thought she was in films like these. Anyway, due to the excessive noise in some violent scenes that included explosions, Rob Schneider, and a man about to have his limbs torn off by a robot, Ma woke up. Noticing I was there, she was her usual self again and started reacting LOUDLY to the scenes. We were at the last parts of the movie so it was a quick watch; of course we both understood the whole gist of it already and had that teeny conversation while the credits rolled:

Ma: So he didn’t want to be the chief judge?
Me: Guess not.
Ma: So who’s going to be the chief judge, the girl?
Me: I don't know.

Now, back to the show. So I was already frowning during this segment while Ma made her usual speech about not wanting to live in tall buildings and if she had too, she’d prefer to stay in the ground floor. Although she’s said that a million times, still it made me think: “that wouldn’t make sense...if something like 9/11 would happen, you’d be squashed by the all the other floors on top of you.” Then I realized (feeling a bit stupid about it), that by being on the ground floor, you’d be the first to be evacuated.

So the show moved on, displaying more and more details of this “modern community”: a 50-metre competition pool, a recreational pool (that reminded me of a lifted Plantation Bay Mactan), a pedestrian bridge that linked one of the buildings to another across a fairly wide road, and a boastful collection of vegetation.

I couldn’t help but think: Forced goodness. I mean I don’t mind trees and all, I love nature, but I don’t think they build these things and planted trees til they grew to the size shown in the plans. Of course they would have to transplant the greenery, and yes they’d be real plants and trees too and some of them would be planted at the site naturally by some landscape artist's workers. I don’t know it just felt a little superficial to me.

That wasn’t half of what bothered me though, what irked me most was this flagrant and I have to say this-irresponsible extravagance. I mean, I just watched some people who cried over their homes under bridges that don’t even cost as much a piece of furniture and now they’re building a bridge EXCLUSIVE for the convenience of unit-owners so they can walk to a Calvin Klein shop at Global Village from their lovely, beautifully-designed units.
Looking at this proposed bridge, it could cost as much as 500 (or even more) decent working houses for people who deserved it. I’m no architect or engineer but common sense would tell you that bridge alone costs a lot.

I wouldn’t want to live in a skyrise condominium, with a view of the entire city, still struggling to breathe while I sigh the day away in my air-conditioned, designer home inside a building insulated from the world’s ugliness. Condos are a good way to save space and I don’t necessarily disapprove of their rise in the Philippine urban scene (which is by the way a sign of economic development methinks). What I would like to know about is the cost of these projects, if all expenses made were necessary and where the profit goes. To a few. Condos create jobs for people too and give business to other businesses (big and small) yes, but I guess most of the profit is spent to make more profit, like stuffing for the bean bags of the lives of a few. I wish more people benefited from such high-yielding businesses. How about some shelling of a few gains to people who badly need homes, education, or a moment of good health? And I guess, it wouldn’t hurt to take a few green moves toward the creation of these extravagant communities. Was there even some form of recycling or conservation considered in the process? I hope. All I’m saying is, if there is much money to spare to build these grand communities, than why not take every measure to make every cent count in terms of environmental friendliness and/or natural resource conservation, social awareness and involvement, and yes even, profit?

I thought about this while I washed the dishes and some clothes Ma wanted me to hand wash. I thought more of it when I started hearing yelping puppies, and saw them behind the dirty kitchen: neighbor’s dog’s puppies, no bitch around-probably hungry and cold. I couldn’t fully comprehend what I was feeling: Indignation? Too much. Injustice? Whatever, Russ. I don’t even think I’ve done anything helpful to my community so far anyway, so who am I to even feel about this? Anyway, I realized I have long day the next day (which is today), I decided to be human and accept this whole mess we’re all thrown into (for now).

No, I am no communist. I believe in good will…I think. Super Perfundo.