Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim
Ylaya Street, Tondo, Manila

A portrait of Alfredo Lim, Manila’s current mayor. The mural also contains portraits of other great Tondeños. Who these other people are, it skipped my mind unfortunately. Yes, like that liquor giant, Tondeños are Manileños who have been born or raised in Tondo district. Alfredo Lim also ‘served’ as Manila mayor back in the 90s. He’s been credited for much of the ‘moral cleansing’ of the city back then. Whether he truly championed the cause of illegal drug dealings and prostitution in the city’s seedier areas or he purely did things for show, is up to one’s political view. Manila as of this decade is definitely a much safer place.

Lim has been notorious lately for discontinuing the ‘beautification’ projects spearheaded by ex-mayor Lito Atienza.  Atienza was Manila’s mayor in between Lim’s terms and is generally credited for making Manila a much more appealing city to both locals and visitors. Lim banned the establishments and entertainment venues in Atienza’s Baywalk development citing angry residents, noise and business permits as the major issues. Lim also reopened the pedestrianized portion on Avenida Rizal. Around mid-2000s Atienza, inspired by the pedestrial culture in Barcelona, decided to close a long portion of the Avenida Rizal for more public space-repainting the renovated old buildings, adding well-manicured shrubbery and stuff. Lim thought it was rubbish and eased Manila traffic jam by reopening the avenue after reintroducing asphalt on the road then covered with Atienza’s signature brick tiles.

The Mehan Garden area, along with its library and the institution Universidad de Manila (or was it City College of Manila?) is one of the biggest controversial issues in both Lim’s and Atienza’s term as city mayor. I don’t actually have an idea here and have failed to follow the story. The City Hall is once again painted white while the National Museum is in pastel yellow, peach and more un-neoclassical colors. Honestly, it’s growing on me the more I see them. But I guess pictures do better than typing away. And I’ve yet to revisit these places when time and budget permits.

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