Tuesday, July 15, 2008

When A Bridge Is More Than A Bridge

Carmen District in Cagayan de Oro is separated from the rest of the city by the Cagayan River, which natural boundary has made possible the division of the entire city into two districts. The original one invariably encompassing the old poblacion and all points due east, while Carmen District anchors the new and second district and all points due west.

And Carmen District is no more the sleepy, one-horse district it once was when we left the place. It is now hodge-podge and chaotic clusters of humanity and human habitation and a puzzling coterie of many small-time businesses ranging from junk dealers, to lumberyards, to art and sign shops, etc., overflowing and filling into sidewalks and even street lanes. It has now become an overly congested and unabated growth, unchecked and unplanned, and heavily impacting on the overall health of the entire city.

Available living and working spaces have been taxed way beyond anything resembling decent human habitation.

No wonder then that a small public concrete bridge designed to allow rain or flood waters to flow through a by-gone creek to empty into the river nearby has been re-designed by its uninvited inhabitants. Essentially as living and working quarters for a small community of residents doing business in bustling Carmen public market also located nearby.

For the many residents, this is where their mainly itinerant business endeavors see their starts or preparation. Many own carts, many built around bicycles, allowing them to have mobility in selling their wares, mostly foodstuff like the popularly convenient fishballs and what have you. These are then pedaled to the public market to be sold.

And for the rest of their families, this where they also raise their little children, or where they allow their energy-laden toddlers to frolic around. With the busy bridge above providing shelter from both sun and rain.

A couple of residents spoken to nonchalantly disclosed that the city has started initial moves to evict them to make way for another proposed bridge spanning the two districts. They said all of them have been “listed down” for their inevitable date with the city’s bulldozers.

This they revealed amidst the furor ushered in by blaring sirens coming from RTA vehicles rounding up for confiscation carts, store inventory, or whatever can be found occupying or littering pedestrian sidewalks/lanes and/or street lanes.

Another typical day here in Carmen, the residents mused.