Living in the city

By Joshua Corcuera

In the last column I contributed, I tackled the centralized structure of our country which favors Metro Manila in terms of economic development, while rural areas tend to deal with slower growth. Likewise, the capital of the country is often seen as the whole identity of the Philippines, which I argued is not the case in my last article considering the fact that ours is a diverse, culture-rich country.

While it is true that growth and development tends to be focused on the capital region, which by the way is why some are proposing for federalism to disseminate growth to other regions, it cannot be denied that Metro Manila has a lot of problems to deal with. From heavy traffic to expensive living costs, from inflation to public transportation problems, the so-called Imperial Manila is not spared from multiple social illnesses.

I was born and raised in Manila, and I continue to reside here for 21 years and counting. I do not intend to live outside the capital city because I am personally satisfied, somehow, with my lifestyle here. I got used to so many people, to the vibrant urban streets, to the noise of the thick crowd, to the bright night lights that illuminate the city.

Personally, I prefer this set-up compared to a silent, peaceful, and dark lifestyle which is commonly associated with rural areas. For instance, people in Metro Manila often stay up late at night, while people in the provinces usually sleep as early as 8 PM. As a matter of fact, I witnessed that this is true when I stayed in a province for several days when I was still in grade school.

Living in the city has its ups and downs, just like living in the countryside. In the city, there is an abundance of life whether it is daytime or nighttime. If one is sociable or simply appreciates the sight of so many warm bodies—even late at night—then living in the city would be a good idea. However, if one prefers to have a more peaceful and silent lifestyle, living in the countryside is a better choice.

Cost of living is another crucial consideration. I am not exactly sure of the prices of goods and services outside Metro Manila, but here in the capital region, cost of living is certainly getting higher. Six years ago, I could go to high school with a baon of P 100 per day. Before the pandemic started in late 2019 and early 2020, I have to bring about P 150 to 200 per day. This coming August, when face-to-face classes are very likely to resume in my university, it appears that I have to bring roughly P 250 to P 300 daily. Just the other day, I bought pancit canton which now costs around P 12 or 13, not exactly sure, but just a few years prior, they merely cost single-digit pesos. Nothing much has changed with household income in my case, though it may not be the case in other households.

Overall, living in the city tends to be costly, but allows for meeting more people, interacting with strangers more often, and having more career opportunities given the fact that many huge corporations are situated in Metro Manila, especially in the cities of Makati and Taguig. Studying in private schools in the Metro may also be costly, but the UAAP schools—including the Big Four—are likewise found in Metro Manila. After all, living in the city is not an entirely bad idea—it is more of a matter of knowing the pros and cons and one’s personal preferences.