September 25, 2017, 3:28 am
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No Potemkin props for Miss U event

NO walls will be erected in Metro Manila to hide slum areas from contestants and other visitors arriving for the Miss Universe pageant, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said yesterday.

MMDA officer in charge Thomas Orbos noted President Duterte has said “not to hide the reality of poverty.”

“Eto ‘yong tunay, wala naman dapat ikahiya,” he added.

The putting up of walls or facades, which came to be known as “Potemkin villages,” was traced to Russia in 1878. 

“Potemkin” was Prince Grigorii Potemkin who was said to have built impressive, fake villages along a route Catherine the Great was to travel in an attempt to impress her.

Academics have questioned the story about the Potemkin villages and called it a myth, with some saying while Potemkin indeed decorated Petersburg and settlements, he did not hide the fact that they were decorations.

“Potemkin village” now means an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition

Former First Lady now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos also erected whitewashed walls along routes taken by foreign visitors when the country hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974. 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development was slammed in 2015 when the agency brought homeless families in Metro Manila to a resort in Batangas during the visit of Pope Francis. 

In 2012, a temporary wall was constructed from the airport in Pasay City to Manila to hide the slum area from ministers and senior officials of the Asian Development Bank, a lending institution that held an international conference here tackling poverty. 

Orbos said there will be no road closures in Metro Manila because President Duterte does not want the event to cause discomfort to commuters. 

The coronation night of the 65th Miss Universe pageant will be on January 30 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

This will be the third time the country will host the event.

Orbos said street sweepers will continuously clean roads while traffic enforcers and personnel from the MMDA motorcycle unit will escort the candidates.

Former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson said there will be no effort to cover squatter areas or hide people living in the streets before and during the beauty pageant.

“We want to show the Philippines as is, hindi bilang mayaman na bansa but a struggling country despite the hardship around us and a lot more misfortune in the streets,” said Singson chairman of LCS Group, a local private partner of the Miss Universe Organization for the pageant. – With Christian Oineza
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