Monday, March 13, 2017

Armageddon Series 3: Failed Utopia - Dying and Deserted Cities

Series 3 Armageddon in the Making (A Personal Dissertation)
As we review Gibbon’s thesis of lost civilizations, we can’t help project the future of countless cities in the world – new, “golden”, dying, deserted. We can only gleam at old and dying cities, infrastructures abandoned into a concrete jungle, or buried in “the sands of time.”

 Dr Abe V Rotor

21. We don’t have to go far.  Pasig River is not only polluted, it is an open sewer! Pasig River in the time of Balagtas and Rizal was a most beautiful scenery to compose songs, verses, to paint scenes, a piece of biblical Eden immortalized and revered, but alas, relegated to the archives, leaving but nostalgic memories, and gloom sans a sense of guilt, even as the dying river passes Malacanang Palace, high rise buildings, and luxurious malls and estates.  (See Dirge of the Pasig River in this Blog)

22. Potable water is a scarce commodity. The cost of bottled drinking water is ironically more than gasoline in many countries including the Philippines, when we have direct access to springs, lakes, rivers, artesian and shallow wells. Freshwater constitutes less than ten percent of all the waters on earth, three percent of which are potable,  but this is getting  more and more difficult to obtain as watersheds dry up, glaciers disappear, natural sources polluted. 

23. Wastelands are expanding, a consequence of mismanagement and market-directed monoculture agriculture, depleting soil fertility and balance.  On the other hand wastelands like swamps are reclaimed but to the expense of wildlife and natural resources irreversibly destroyed in the same way that I found, as project director of Sab-A Swamp in Leyte, not to mention microclimate change and desertification.

24. Traffic problems are getting worse each day, building up to a point of choking avenues and streets, even private roads are forced to open as alternative routes. Towns like Vigan, San Fernando LU, Laoag which gained city status now experience traffic congestion as more vehicles increase in number and utility. Traffic is today the Number One cause of smog. Smog over Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong is the worst in the world.

25. What a pitiful sight when caught in hours-long traffic! It’s virtually paralysis in practically all aspects of living.  Energy loss runs to millions every day. There is virtual dome visible as smog over the city, a huge gas chamber with every vehicle spewing deadly gases and carbon, joined in by factories and establishments, countless homes notwithstanding.

26. No wonder more and more people are getting sick of many pollution-related diseases from the recurrence of ancient diseases like tuberculosis, to modern ailments like allergy and hypertension.  When you are subjected to too much stress the body suffers of fatigue, physically and mentally – and spiritually as well. Many people spend their life sick and depressed, dependent on medicine; many die, and die before their time. 

27. The Computer Revolution is touching our faith more openly and deeply now than during the age of Bible Study and Sunday Worship. The marriage of religion and technology has gone farther than following Mass on TV.  It is now available on the Internet the subject of God in the countless denominations of faith.  But even a world-wide web apparently cannot not bind Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists together.

28. On the contrary fundamentalism in many religions is drawing the faithful farther from ecumenicism which has the objective of common understanding irrespective of religious affiliations. On the contrary a crisis is looming with religious members leaving their  conventional religious institutions and creating one themselves, such as Born Again, Ang Dating Daan. Others simply quit.  They are called Nones, literally no religion. They however, have chosen the way they worship, help the needy, deal with religious congregations in which they are no longer a part, etc. 

29. Domicile used to be community-based with indigenous and genetic roots established by history, culture, economics and beliefs, which prevailed over time:   family to tribe to community, expanding into town, and lately into city.  Cities continue expand at an accelerated rate, eating out not only their suburbs, but their former provincial bases for which they were once the capital, like nucleus of a cell. The countryside is now an orphan, while metropolises and megacities have grown into cancerous social structures.

30. Today’s city is basically of the same structure as those in the past, even in ancient times – Babylon, Rome, Athens, even those of the Aztecs and Mayans – and what is our outlook of metropolitan life, and the dream place we used to call “the Golden City”?  As we review Gibbon’s thesis of lost civilizations, we can’t help project the future of countless cities in the world – new, “golden”, dying, deserted. We can only gleam at old and dying cities, infrastructures abandoned into a concrete jungle, or buried in “the sands of time.”  Detroit, once the pioneer and monopoly of the US automotive industry, Is now considered dead, a clear warning in postmodern times amidst global prosperity.

 Detroit - Death of Utopia

Left,  Spirit of Detroit, bronze statue biggest since Renaissance. A family in  his right hand, golden sun in his left - indeed a symbol of prosperity.  That was in 1955. Restored recently, it symbolizes a past glory.

Right, image of Mother Teresa, now a saint graces an empty plaza. Who is the poor? It's ironic, the poorest of the poor could the wealthiest once upon a time. 

 Detroit today, antithesis of progress, failed Utopia.  
My dad worked here in the thirties.  He was a working student De Paul University in Chicago.  It was Detroit's crowning glory. Dad never knew of the sad fate of this biggest city in the he world in its time.  He died in 1981.  In my visit to Chicago in 1976, little did I foresee Detroit's eventual downfall.  What really is the world of Utopia we dream of? (Internet photos)
To be continued     

No comments: