He did not want to go clubbing. He had enough of coffee. We both don't drink and he did not want dancing. He asked me to take him somewhere interesting. I only thought of one thing. Besides, I also wanted to go visit again that place and to surprise him with the oddities of the place. Unknowingly, I was the one surprised...
I took him to Baclaran. He admitted to me that he has never been there so I was kinda excited. As we turned from Roxas Boulevard to the alley way I knew so well I began to doubt it if I lost my way. Why the streets were clear and the stalls were all on one side. I thought it weird and I kept checking for the land marks I knew should be there, just in case I took the wrong alley. They were there all right, but I still couldn't believe how the place looks vacant and really different.
I went to a shop that I frequent. I know the 'manang' there and I asked what happened. She told me that as soon as the new officials took office, they also stripped the place and drove away the stalls and the sellers there. I had a mixed reaction. Almost 70% of the stalls were no longer there. Even those along the LRT line were also no longer there. The roads looked wide and passable now, but I could only surmise and guess whatever happened to the people who were removed from there. What now of their source of income and livelihood?
My friend saw my concern and the sadness in my face and he asked me if I was alright. I was just thinking about the many families who have been displaced here and where they would be without their livelihood. I know that these are streets and the stalls there are a blight, but I was still caught between feeling for the vendors and the good thing that clearing the place could bring. Does the benefit outweigh the harm done? Is it really a good thing? I can not really readily say because all I know is that the stall vendors there are trying to make a decent and honest living. What now? I was really heartbroken at the sight of the empty streets.
I became doubly sad with the fact that my friend - it being his first time - would never see Baclaran as I saw it. My heart sank and instead of going elsewhere, we headed back home, me very disturbed and with a heavy heart. My friend told me that hopefully, these people were given relocation sites for them to ply their trade. I certainly hope so.
Quo Vadis, Baclaran Vendors?