Narrative of the Pier

Narrative of the Pier

Cecilia Fe L Sta Maria
DOI: 10.4018/ijsesd.2014040104
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“Locating ourselves in the center of en masse urbanization….” Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines, primarily a coastal area is not exempted from this socio-cultural shift. And in these changes, people, specifically that of the eight Girls, ages 14 to 18 years old living in the periphery of the coast, begin to question this condition of urbanization that has only created varied and severe strands of poverty in their area. “I look at their photographs and listen to their narrative....” Using Alice McIntyre's photovoice, the Girls took photographs of spaces that represent the concepts of poverty and development. I let them speak of these spaces and they begin to talk about “development” and “poverty,” focusing on the existence of the Pier, the Coast and that of their lives. “Spatiality of the Pier....” Taking the postmodern lens, guided by Edward Soja's notions on spatiality is an attempt to view the unfolding of tensions emanating from urban spaces and their representations. The Pier and that of other spaces become the discursive arena that conjugate non-recognition of positions and conditions between the concepts of “poverty” and “development.” With the Pier as the most imposing space emerges ambiguity and blurry vision affect how the Girls perceive, conceive and live in and along these spaces. Development as assumed to be an existing and workable paradigm through urbanization promise alteration of their condition does not exist for them. What happens is that “poverty” becomes the constant wherein time and space are in crisis; and, the spatiality of the Girls becomes fragmented and pulverized. “IT”: For urbanization as a development agenda does not fulfill its promise to the Girls of Matnog, Sorsogon and to us. This knowledge as conceptualized for them place them in a position and state where they no longer recognize what development is. In this discourse, development, urbanization and spaces that represent them all becomes (in)visible that have become (un)recognizable and (un)familiar for the Girls and for us. This (non)recognition place all these concepts and spaces as an IT.
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  • As the words trace its way on paper,

  • And as the narrative of the Pier begins,

  • I begin to see and understand them…

  • For we share the same story.

Our development story always begin with the lines:

  • Since we are poor, we are in dire need of mechanisms and support systems to uplift our status and go towards the direction of progress.

  • But who sets the premise for our story of development?

  • Who has shaped and formed our development paradigm?

  • Is this shaped development working for the Girls of Matnog?

  • Is this development shape working for us?


I Speak Of The Familiar Narrative

The Philippines as a postcolonial nation who have already established its independence for more than fifty years still “live within the legacy and aftermath of postcolonialism” (McEwan, 2009). Admittedly, much of our ways of development have been adopted from our colonizers. As we continually celebrate our independence, in the attempt to move away from the familiar ways of progress and development that have been shaped for us, we only find ourselves subjected to the original sin that is responsible for the severing of connections: the “copy” (Schwarz, 1992; Szeman & Kaposy, 2011). We re-construct our development but revisions of this so-called development life resemble how the colonizers have created their own development. As we “copy” their development, we elicit more negative effects in the attempt to template ourselves to that of the colonized nation. And, we see our nation’s demise because this copied development life effect “social fissure between our culture that is unrelated to [our] surroundings and production that does not spring from the depths of our life” (Schwarz, 1992; Cultural Theory). Moving towards the direction of rampant urbanization, that which is a prevailing vision of the Philippines, we then become copyright infringers of urban development and imitate what is theirs, (Western thought and knowledge on development), when theirs is never our story, our narrative and discourse of development. In this imitation of such development agenda carries within it a culture of poverty that becomes more severe and varied as our spaces change and people change. The tendency to produce uneven development becomes more pronounced as coping becomes more difficult for other groups to partake of development that is presented in the urban project.

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