Originally posted on 5 May 2011 here.
Last week’s grisly events at Laperal Compound prompt me to riff on something near and dear, but is rarely spoken of by fellow Manileños: our relationship to space and place. Not a fan of violence (or the criminal elements taking refuge in such slums), but if someone’d raze my community to the ground and dismantle the boards of my home, then I’d certainly feel like hurling molotovs and shitbombs too. In the midst of the protests, one Laperal Compund leader even said that they’d rather die where they stand than relocate to far-flung Calauan or Montalban, where death is a greater, if slower, certainty: no electricity, water, access to health services, schools. In such conditions, she said, “unti-unti kaming pinapatay ng pamahalaan: magiging libingan na namin ang lupang pagtitirikan namin ([they] are being killed slowly by the state: the land [they’re] cast to will be [their] graves)”. 
But what differentiates us middle-class folk from informal settlers anyway? Not much, really. Just the luck of being born into the socioeconomic means of legally owning/renting a home–with its accordant veil of delusion, thinking that our shoebox condominiums and gated subdivisions are somehow better, safer, healthier places. But we’re just as disconnected.