Saturday, January 26, 2013

There Goes the Neighbourhood

Global City, circa 2000
Circa 2012

On December 31st, 1999, my father took our whole family to celebrate New Year's Eve at a new events venue that was built in the middle of a grassy area formerly allocated to the Philippine Military. The land had been recently privatised, and was going to be developed for residential and commercial use. First to rise were some very expensive condominiums. 
Next to come up were lower-priced ones, including the one Big A and I moved into upon the building's completion in late 2005. Then, there was a construction boom. For three years, we endured endless dust coating everything inside our flat. High rise after high rise rose to obscure what was once flat grassland.   Office buildings, condominiums and commercial areas mushroomed and greenery disappeared.

Naturally, small restauranteurs and new businesses eagerly signed leases and took spaces, hoping to make names for themselves in the ever-difficult industry called retail. Some have thrived. Others, sadly, have simply disappeared.

Around the corner from where we live is a small shop that Little A discovered a few months ago, when he suddenly developed a passion for skateboarding. He saw some boys practicing jumps and was instantly enthralled. Loving, as he does, jumping, crashing and falling, seeing these boys try and succeed at their tricks, or try and fail, made him ecstatic. We would walk to this shop at least once a day, and he would either chase after the skateboarders or jump up and down delightedly while watching the looped video playing on a tv in the store.

The store's staff knew his name, and the regular customers would patiently allow him to play with their boards, usually quite roughly. Big A and I got him a skateboard for Christmas, one with a detachable handle that started off as a scooter.

Today, we visited the store and saw that everything was being packed away. Like several of the restaurants in the area, the shop was closing down and moving elsewhere. It would still be in the neighbourhood, but just a little further away.

I wish I had kept a photographic record of how quickly things are changing in this little area where we live. Visitors from abroad are shocked and amazed to see the pace of the development in the span of just one year. I mourn the loss of green spaces and curse the now inevitable traffic jams blocking the narrow streets. Truly, change is one of the few things we can count on. I suppose I only have to look at my little boy for proof of that. 

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