Manila Times Editorial: Tondo
By Editor-in-Chief (Manila Times)

Some politicians speak of the district of Tondo as if it were a backwater community of the downtrodden and the unfortunate.

The presidential aspirant, Fernando Poe Jr., the champion of the poor, for example, had said that he would participate in a presidential debate only if it were held in an impoverished community where the masses could take part and raise questions.

What poverty-stricken places? He named several slum neighborhoods in Metro Manila. He also named Tondo.

In his equation, Tondo is home of the utterly poor who could help raise his spirits in a spirited debate, when the exchange gets heated and he runs out of arguments.

The King of Action Movies laid down his ground rules in responding to a challenge from another presidential candidate, former senator Raul Roco. Poe also said he preferred to debate in Pilipino, which is a reasonable request.

Responding to the movie actor, President Arroyo said she was willing to engage her strongest rival to a debate in Tondo to suit his demands, even if it meant bending the rules.

She apparently sees Tondo through the same prism used by Poe.

The candidates' attitude reflects a benighted public perception that Tondo is an unsafe, downtrodden underbelly of the city; that the place is thick with crime, vice and disease.

Manileņos who were born or were raised in Tondo, as well as thoughtful Filipinos, will see these arguments as a kind of place-bashing.

Tondo occupies a niche in history. Before it was carved out and certain areas parceled out to neighboring Binondo, Tondo hosted historic events and was home to many distinguished families.

Here Lakandula founded his kingdom and the Katipunan had its first meetings. The great Tondo Church summoned the faithful. Plaza Moriones was once the best option to Quiapo's Plaza Miranda. Torres High was one of the best secondary schools in the nation, producing eminent graduates who excelled in journalism, literature and public service.

Name-places like Gagalangin, Bangkusay, Moriones, Juan Luna, Tayuman, Pritil and Balut were homes to venerable families: the Arcellanas, Malays, Aprietos, Cristobals, Cruzes, Saenzes, the Hernandezes and others.

Tondo is a community of the hardworking, ambitious middle-class. There are pockets of poverty and lawlessness, such as the Smoky Mountain area, the North Harbor slums and the Dagat-Dagatan grounds. The district itself takes pride in its history, culture and its possibilities. Many political parties and candidates however see Tondo only in terms of votes.

They haven't read the work of the late Tondo-born writer Andres Cristobal-Cruz, who loved to tell the world that, "Tondo Man, May Langit Din."

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At Large : A visit to Tondo
By Rina Jimenez-David (Inquirer)
Tondo Boy Proves Pinoy Business Can Stand Firm
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Manila Times Editorial: Tondo
By Editor-in-Chief (Manila Times)
History of Sto. Niņo de Tondo Parish
By Ms. Rose Marie Mendoza

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