Sunday, November 29, 2009

On The Streets Where People Live

Real estate definitely is a very scarce and valuable commodity, especially in a place teeming with people not only exponentially expanding through runaway birth dates but with added growth accounted by the influx of migrants from different beleaguered parts of the big island of Mindanao.

Thus, the purchase and acquisition of real estate for housing hereabouts is simply beyond the dream of this unfortunate segment of the population.

Cagayan de Oro is a place bursting with people, reaching a nadir where one believes total population for now defies accurate census counting. I have never gotten a definite answer to the question about the current population of the city. Voter registration records should only reveal an incomplete picture, since it clearly does not include non-voters like children which number in great hordes.

A basic societal dilemma then is where to decently lodge all these people with their families. Where and how to provide sufficient and adequate places where people can live and raise their burgeoning families.

Given the gargantuan size of this problem in this particular context, one can only sadly wonder how.

But we do see daily where many of them “live”, not far from the streets that we negotiate daily in our workaday lives. Actually, many of them live partly on the streets that we use daily – parts of the street where their kids play, laundry and bathing are dutifully done, etc.

This video typifies many such streets in the city where residents live lives in their cramped and precarious worlds.

A messy situation exacerbated by the fact that these houses or shanties that people build on these sites are actually squatting on tiny strips of public land separating the actual paved streets from the boundaries of private land. In the process erasing whatever necessary provisions for road shoulders and sidewalks were planned.

Creating a scenario where a narrow street of two lanes, one lane for each direction, has not only been deprived of necessary shoulders but where parts of both lanes have been co-opted by squatter residents coming out of their reed-thin houses and their lives literally spilling into the street proper. Add to that all their parked vehicles of assorted construction – motorized or pedal-powdered, etc., garaged flushed to their shanties’ sides. And some house furniture to boot.

Imagine then how the passing vehicles have to expertly negotiate thru those extremely narrowed streets replete with impediments both human and otherwise.

Even in the terribly busy national highway that traverses the city, one can find street lanes embedded with metal spikes where clandestine vendors would attach ropes to hold down temporary tarp roofing/siding.

Life under bridges in this benighted place is another matter best suited for exposition at another time. Or what about life in a river island created by silting which has now enough residents to merit the label of a barangay?