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BLIND SPOT: Mall things, bright and beautiful

It was the 90s, during the pre-mall era of Naga City. It’s a Saturday afternoon. I would jump off the jeep in front of Master Square, cross the street, take my stride along the line of shops, turn left and another left, buy myself a 20 peso worth ticket, climb up the stairs, push the doors into the dark hall and from the entrance lane to the balcony seats of Bichara, the Atenean and Isabellina highs school kids would be sporting Generation X fashion, from oversized shirt and baggy pants, black shirt with a heavy metal band logo and worn out, torn denims, to midriff blouse and tight fitting jeans. I would go up the stairs because I know that’s where I could find my tropa. This was our mall when there were no malls yet. My grandfather would tell me that years before, if he wanted to go to the movies, he would take a long walk to Naga and watch probably a John Wayne flick in this very same theater; and he lived in Libmanan. Later, kids made do with sitting on the concrete plant boxes in the Galleria. Apparently, this was a good spot for sighting cute Isabellinas. Further later, mallrats were treated to a place to hang out on the place wich used to be Superland. I remember when that place would be packed on weekends. Fast forward to the present time, last Tuesday, August 15, I had to endure an extremely hot jeepney ride in the middle of sluggish traffic along Diversion Road which just a day before was host to smooth and continuous vehicular movement. I heard TV stars would be coming. “Visiting a mall is advantageous because the shops are housed in a complex. Groceries, clothes, shoes, reading material, food courts, cinemas, and entertainment are available in one place.“ ( “Local authorities can collect bigger avenue from taxes which is needed to improve infrastructure”. “It is more likely to upgrade public services such as training and education, health services, public transportation, which contributes to improve living standard”. ( You have to hand it over to the value of convenience. Unless you’re looking for sangkaka or bukayo, almost everything is accessible for purchase in a shopping mall. The regular shopper probably doesn’t realize it but these commercial establishments imply revenues for the local government; providing funds which could be appropriated for services including public works, education, health, social welfare, among others; that is if the resources are justly allocated. I have to note the generation of employment for applicants who would otherwise venture out to the national capital or elsewhere for occupation which is now accessible in the locality. On the other hand, in the mall environment, “The temptation to see is always present and often leads to buying things that are not necessary“. “With all sales and specials designed to tempt buyers, say “no” becomes very difficult”. ( “it is believed that new construction can destroy landscapes.” “Air becomes more polluted by shoppers’ individual vehicles: smokes and noise from engines.” “There will be more traffic jams result in more cars coming from other regions, streets become more congested, and cars park everywhere in roads.” ( I guess, this circumstance would be relative. As a college student strolling around SM North, I’d be invited of the aroma of the food court, but helplessly walk about because all I have is money for fare, anyway. I appreciated it when SM sprang up in the middle of idle lots which used to be rice fields in Triangulo; but I got really annoyed with the newly imposed procedures of traffic. Forgive my ignorance; but why did vehicles have to make those turns and limited by those barricades. It was remarkably absurd when tricycle drivers would make a U-turn in Isarog just to avoid making it in the main road of Panganiban. Let me take you to a blind spot. The top four features for PWD-Friendly Establishments are wheelchair ramps, lifts and elevators in key areas, wide and accessible parking slots for persons with disability, restrooms for PWDs, and trained and courteous staff. ( “Placing wheelchair ramps, lifts and elevators in key areas, such as unloading zones,would give more accessibility to PWDs.” “Wide parking slots allow individuals to help their family members in wheelchairs to enter and leave their vehicle.” “Restroom for PWD feature handrails near the door, toilet and sink.” “Staff should be respectful when addressing PWDs.” I remember a time when I was stopped by a guard while entering a mall. The guard questions me about my white cane, ostensibly suspecting it to be a deadly weapon. I know it looks like nunchakus but I’m no ninja. Across the totality of these monuments of convenience, revenue and employment generation, and of disbursement and disruption, I implore us to make it an institution of inclusion. “…remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” Deuteronomy 8:18

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