Tuesday, 15 May 2007

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This year, the municipality of Morong, Rizal began and finished the construction of a new building. The building – located at the center of town – sports a lively paint job, a breath of fresh air into the otherwise dull gallery of Morong’s public structures (except for the municipal hall).

The building would house the new SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth offices, as well a drugstore run by Morong Retailers and Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MORECO-MPC). The post office would also be transferred in the arcade from its old office at the other end of the block. Aside from that, there are also a couple of commercial spaces. The arcade also serves as a terminal to public AUVs bound for Crossing, Megamall and Robinson’s Galleria.

It could’ve been perfect, if not for one glaring feature: it’s named after Rizal’s incumbent governor, Casimiro M. Ynares, Jr.

Aside from the screaming “Ynares Arcade” inscribed on the building’s semicircular section (pardon my pathetic architectural terms), it also sports the governor’s crest of sorts: a red stick figure resembling the letter “Y”; green vertical rectangles on each side of the stick figure, forming the letter “M”; and a red letter “C” around the previous two figures. Arrange them and you get the governor’s initials. Aside from that, there are also green boxes with the letter “Y” emblazoned on it, located at the top of the building’s walls.

The arcade was not the only public structure that suffered the same fate. In fact, in the Ynares family’s 15 year rule over the province (Casimiro served from 1992-2001; his spouse Rebecca from 2001-2004; Casimiro sat again from 2004-present; and now his son is running for the gubernatorial seat), various public structures have been branded with their family name. Waiting sheds, multi-purpose gyms, public school buildings built during their term all sport the Ynares name – a recurring sight around Rizal. Even Antipolo’s Ynares Sports Complex was named after the incumbent governor.

During the Voters’ Awareness Forum spearheaded by Morong Parish Pastoral Council and Rotaract Club of Morong, a candidate running for the municipal council was asked as to why the arcade was named after the governor instead of a hometown hero. Unfortunately, the candidate was not an incumbent councilor, and so he was not able to answer the question.

Similarly, the city of Antipolo fell prey to the same situation. Many public structures (including sidewalks) were branded with the acronym “ACG.” It was purportedly meant to stand for “Antipolo City Government.” Incidentally, the city mayor’s name is Angelito C. Gatlabayan. So which one is true?

These politicians seem to always have to remind the people that such projects were made possible through their efforts. It’s as if public structures are the only legacy they could leave behind and imprint in the minds of their constituents, and so they brandish their name whenever a new project comes up. One might conclude that such actions are reminiscent of a mammal marking its territory: this province is mine, can’t you see my insignia?

Yet they also seem to have forgotten that such projects wouldn’t even be possible in the first place without taxes from the people. It is this reality that should be kept in check always. The people pay taxes so that the government can live on and serve them, not to bug them with structures bearing some trapo’s name.

For now, the Ynares Arcade stands as a fitting reminder of how much Rizal’s politics have degraded over the past years – if only for the crests.

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