I was a visitor of the City of Kaohsiung (pronounced Gaw-shung) last week during their celebration of the Lunar New Year through a parade and lantern festival.
Kaohsiung is host to one of the largest and busiest commercial ports in the world located at the mouth of its river as it flows into the China Sea.
Our Pasig River also flows into Manila Bay, part of the West Philippine Sea, and in its mouth, we also have commercial ports: The South and North Harbors and the Manila International Container Port.
But the residents and local government of Kaohsiung have kept their “Love River” (yes, they take so much pride in their river where lovers stroll along it’s well-lit banks and bridges) clean and very strictly maintained.
My assistant and I took mugs of San Miguel beer sitting beside the embankment of their Love River where stalls were serving food and drinks, and we never had our nostrils assailed by any stench. “Love” boats of all sizes were cruising the river, which is just about the same width as our Pasig.
In Singapore of course, what used to be filthy canals (esteros in our lingo) before Lee Kuan Yew stepped in as leader, have now become tourist attractions, such as in Clark and Robertson Quays.
We even have a Pasig River Rehabilitation Project office, started by then first lady Ming Ramos, but look at the Pasig River now, and especially its tributaries or esteros, and weep as well.
The Chinese keep saying that waterways should be kept clean, or bad feng shui prevails. That is how they politely speak of Malacañang, the Palace beside the filthy Pasig.
Maybe the only reason bad feng shui escapes our President is he stays in the Palace beside the stinking river only for three days, and rejuvenates in his native Davao each week.
On more pleasant note, Taiwanese were enthralled this March in concerts featuring two Filipinas who are rightly billed as “The Nightingales.”
Sopranos Bianca Camille Lopez and Rhina Paula Palma-Cruz were both soloists of the UP Madrigal Singers, our country’s premier choir which has been acclaimed in performances throughout the world.
Aiming to bring classical music closer to younger audiences, the Nightingales sang to the delight of Taiwanese audiences in Hsinchu, Tainan, Chiayi and Taipei.
Their repertoire included not only Philippine medleys and Chinese songs, but familiar classics in French, Spanish, Italian, German and English, even a medley of Adele hits.
Last year, Taiwanese audiences also heard the Madrigals perform in their concert halls, as well as the Banda Kawayan (formerly Pangkat Kawayan). They all make us proud to be Filipinos.