Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares has become one of the most high-profile members of the legislature. Even veterans do not get as much attention as the neophyte lawmaker (except those mentioned in the widening Priority Development Assistance Fund scandal).
An indication of Poe’s immense popularity is how quickly scam artists are now using her name for a variation of the “You have won…” text message. I received this “wonderful” news from the “Grace Poe Foundation Inc.” congratulating me because my SIM (subscriber identity module) card won the second prize of P780,000. I was supposed to call a certain “Sec. Armando C. Benitez” to claim the prize.
What upsets me is that ever since this “prize-giving” started, I always get only the second prize, never the first, so I did not bother to claim my P780,000. I keep wondering how much the first prize is.
I passed on the message to Sen. Poe’s press office, hoping it would warn her supporters not to believe the “good news.” It would be more effective if, instead of me revealing the hoax, her office would do it. But Poe’s staff seems too busy issuing statements about everything and anything (I know, because I get at least one press release every week), or they probably think nobody will take the message seriously.
I have news for them. People are still falling for these scams, and they come from all age groups and income and education levels, losing not just a few, but even hundreds and thousands of pesos.
Can Erap do it?
People are aware how Manila, the once proud national capital, has deteriorated. Pedestrians play patintero with motor vehicles in the middle of the road because many sidewalks are filled with all sorts of structures, many of them unsightly.
On the sidewalks are dozens of carinderia with their tables and chairs; barangay halls blocking large sections; and property owners extend their lots by building fences. Most of the sidewalks are cracked or unevenly built. People are at risk breaking their legs, if not their necks.
Commuters wait for rides on the streets because vehicles are double-parked, making it difficult for public utility vehicles to make a proper stop to load and unload passengers. Everyone seems to ignore traffic rules.
Nobody follows the huge No Left Turn signs at the Osmeña Highway-San Andres intersection or one-way signs on other streets. Pedicabs and tricycles are on main thoroughfares like Taft Avenue, and go the wrong way on one-way streets. The corners of San Andres and Leon Guinto and San Andres and Singalong have become jeepney terminals.
Manila seems to have become a community of informal settlers and street people. The genteel Ermita-Malate area is not even a shadow of its old self. Many graceful old homes, imposing structures and architectural treasures are boarded up, with little holes from which suspicious characters emerge at certain times of day and night.
As a long-time resident of the historic (although now it seems to be more hysterical) city, I am quite saddened by the sight of Manila falling down and apart.
But new Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who visited the Inquirer last Thursday, assured us he was determined to make the city the centerpiece of the country again, as it deserved to be. He would not want to provide ammunition to those who wanted to move the seat of government elsewhere—possibly create a whole new city just devoted to governing.
I am often skeptical, if not cynical, of political promises but I am willing to give Erap the benefit of the doubt. And I think every Filipino, not just Manila residents, should help the capital reclaim the honor of being the country’s premier city.
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