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‘Live in Quezon City’

The local government of Quezon City has been controversial lately. 

First, some of its councilors are facing criminal charges for using public funds to pay ghost employees.  Next, the Quezon City council enacted an ordinance requiring residents to pay for garbage collection services, which is a function of the local government in the first place.  Third, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista found himself interfering with the truck ban in Manila imposed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.  After that, the Quezon City government forcibly evicted the seedling bank located at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue, despite protestations that the rights of the seedling bank over the premises have been upheld by the courts.  Lastly, real estate taxes in Quezon City are among highest in the country.        

Recently, several Quezon City local politicians came out with a draft ordinance which will require organizers of concerts and similar events which will be held in Quezon City to indicate in their promotional materials the phrase “LIVE IN QC” or words of similar import.  According to the proponents of this measure, the Quezon City government has lost its patience with concerts and events which bear the promotional tag “LIVE IN MANILA” when these concerts are, in fact, held in Quezon City, often at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.  Beware, because the proposed ordinance has a penal provision – violators of the proposed ordinance will be penalized with a P5000 fine. 

The proposed requirement is unconstitutional because it violates freedom of speech and expression.  What concert producers want to indicate in their promotional posters is their own affair.  The local government cannot tell them what to put in their posters.  That is like telling newspapers and magazines what to put on their pages.  Dictating on the people what to put in their publications is not acceptable in a free society. 

Silly is another appropriate adjective to describe the proposed ordinance.  Why can’t the phrase “LIVE IN MANILA” be used for an activity held in Quezon City?  What possible harm will an advertisement bearing the phrase “LIVE IN MANILA,” for an event to be held in Quezon City, do to Quezon City?  Will it spell a reduction in amusement taxes?  Certainly not.  Will it be misleading for the citizens of Quezon City?  Of course not, unless the Quezon City council truly believes that its citizens are stupid enough to think that the Araneta Coliseum, the iconic Quezon City landmark for the past 50 years, is located in the City of Manila.  Good grief! 

Perhaps the Quezon City government has not noticed that the word Manila, as used in the entertainment and tourism industries in the country, has come to refer to any place in Metropolitan Manila.  For example, in October 1975, the historic third match between world heavyweight boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was dubbed the Thrilla in Manila when it was actually held at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.  The 1974 and 1994 Miss Universe pageants were promoted to the world as events held in Manila, when they really took place in Pasay City.  Manila also hosted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in the 1970s but it was also held in Pasay City.  Nobody protested.

By far, Manila is as generic as the national capital region (NCR) itself.  People in the rural communities still refer to their visitors from the NCR as “mga taga-Maynila” even if the guests actually came from Caloocan City, Pasig or Malabon.  International flights into and out of the country use the name Manila, even if the international airport is located at Pasay City.  Realistically speaking, many foreigners have heard of Manila, but not too many are acquainted with Quezon City or Pasay City.

What’s in a name anyway?  The City of Makati is home to the Manila Golf Club, Manila Polo Club, Hotel Intercontinental-Manila, Manila Peninsula Hotel, Hotel Dusit Manila Garden, Ateneo de Manila law school, the Manila South Cemetery, etc. 

Some names, even though they are ostensibly misleading, have come to be accepted by the public, there being no harm in doing so.  Thus, people hardly notice that there are no hills in Green Hills in San Juan City, that White Plains Subdivision in Quezon City is built on a sloping terrain, and that there is nothing blue in Blue Ridge Subdivision, also in Quezon City. 

Ateneo de Manila University has no campus in the City of Manila; its campuses are in Quezon City and in Makati.  The Manila Water Company and its counterpart Maynilad also provide water service to areas outside of the City of Manila. 

Places labeled as new hardly deserve the description.  New Manila is in Quezon City, and that place has been there since the 1940s.  There is New Panaderos Street in the Santa Ana district of Manila, and it’s been in use for the past 50 years or more.  The Bagong Ilog area in Pasig City has been around for the longest time.  In the United States, they have New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Orleans, etc., all of which are older than the oldest person alive today.  Nobody seems to mind the use of the word new to describe these places.

Instead of fussing about names, the Quezon City council should concentrate its legislative efforts towards cleansing city hall of ghost employees, making garbage collection in the city free of charge, solving its own traffic problems, and, in the name of environmental protection, saving the seedling bank at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue.  Since the local government has more than enough savings, the Quezon City council ought to consider lowering real estate taxes in the city as well.

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