Paradise Island

July 2006

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Paradise Island is a squatter area in Mandaue City located below the first Mandaue-Mactan bridge. There are 408 families living here.

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That really is the name of this place, although some might say the name is ironic. Well, I guess it's as good as any other name.

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It's a place without much in the way of 'provided infrastructure services': no paved streets, no running water, no landline telephone service, no sewage treatment and no garbage collection (no need for the last two anyway, as the Opon Channel tide which runs underneath everybody's house twice a day takes care of all the waste.)
There is electricity here: the local utility has brought in live wires, and meter boxes to monitor use, so it can make a little money.

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I've almost forgotten to notice that nobody ever says 'Get outta here with your fucking camera,' which is how I'd probably react if a tourist started nosing around my squatter area.
Instead, as everywhere else in the Philippines, everybody was very friendly as I wandered around taking pictures. As usual, it's just people, trying to survive and raise their families and have a little fun sometimes.

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There has been some discussion in the newspaper about the city of Mandaue planning to re-locate the residents here to a new area...

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Not because the ciy cares about them, but because the community is considered an eyesore to tourists and foreign businesspeople passing by on the bridge above.

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Speculation about relocation increased during the run-up to the ASEAN Summit scheduled for early December 2006, as hundreds of foreign diplomats would be crossing the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and - YIKES! - perhaps be offended by seeing a squatter community below.

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But since I visited in July, nothing much has happened. The city did deliver some cans of green paint a few weeks before the ASEAN Summit, with insructions to paint the roofs green (so it would look like a resort community I guess?) Otherwise, residents have been left to fend for themselves, as always.
Well.. I guess that beats a bulldozer.

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Another view from the bridge

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Don't forget to wave good-bye!