It’s more fun in the Philippines, so the advertising jingle goes across a multitude of stereotypical beach images accompanied with rock muzic. Well this week it aint so much fun out here as the APEC summit rolls into town causing much disruption to all and sundry. APEC is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a 21 country economies that promote sustainable economic growth along with prosperity across the Asia Pacific region and lucky ole manila is hosting the 2015 version. Heads of state from China, Japan, USA, Australia to name but a few will be in attendance and the resulting chaos being caused here in Manila by their presence is being felt one way or another by all.
First off is the dire traffic situation, which at best has now climbed to be ranked the fifth worse in the world. Well you can’t have these world leaders experiencing what us mere mortals have to put up with so the authorities have coned off parts of the main EDSA highway to allow these delegates to speed through to their meetings and cocktail recptions whilst leaving the ordinary motorist to sweat in the ever worsening traffic jams, added to that some 20,000 homeless, street kids and vendors have been moved to other areas. One wag described it as giving them a vacation! The majority of activities around Manila Bay, fishing, swimming, sailing and even just walking have all been banned and as such the Philippine authorities have been openly criticized by the Human Rights Watch. The 18th & 19th of November have been declared special non working days in Manila, that means no government offices will be open for business and schools are closed from today for the rest of the week.
Filipino’s have been quick to take to social media to vent their combined frustrations at the ever worsening traffic situation giving rise to the hashtag APECtado. One woman gave birth on the road and due to the enormously heavy traffic an ambulance could not be called! You can add to this little lot a list of small sacrifices the President has reportedly asked Filipinos to make during the APEC summit that include, curtailing or even cancelling air travel so that these privileged leaders can arrive without hindrance. That one’s true as the majority of airlines are constantly updating their schedules with delayed or even cancellations as whole runways are closed for a period of time. Expect internet interruptions as the slowest and most expensive internet connection in Asia has been reserved for the APEC leaders and their minions. This one’s a load of rubbish as the major telecoms providers here have all stated that they have not been asked to curtail internet for private residents in any way. Actually they stated that they haven’t been asked YET! But like most rumours there has to be a grain of truth in it.
Residents in condos in and around the Manila Bay area have reportedly been told to keep their curtains closed and not to hang out on their balconies for security reasons. Not sure about this one but I could believe it. All in all it’s a right cockup here and the only bright spot on the horizon is as one wag put it, with the NAIA, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, at a virtual standstill at least the ‘laglag bala’ scam will not be in operation for a few days. What the hell is the laglag bala scam I here you ask, well I’ll tell you all about it next time.