BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder. This phrase simply means that beauty is subjective. What is beautiful to one is ugly to another. Naga tribesmen in India adore women with muscular arms and legs. Some African tribesmen love women with elongated and adorned necks, others would find beauty in girls with nose rings and ear rings so large the ear lobes would reach the lovely ladies collar bones.

In much the same way, the beauty of the song is in the ear of the listener. My wife Jay and our two kids would gang up on me to switch Frank Sinatra's "My Way" with some crazy songs which are devoid of melody. And they call their selections "songs". And yet not too long ago, I would put my ambling babes to sleep by just humming "All Alone" and "Counting My Blessings". When my voice is hoarse and they were all too sleepy, I would play the tape of my favorite classics. These days the grown up kids just loathe Frank and they must have even disposed of the tapes as I couldn't find them anymore.

What am I driving at? I cannot comprehend why the city government allowed "ukay-ukay" vendors to flourish like mushrooms around city hall and the Sangguniang Panlungsod building. Sure, one can reason out that these ambulant vendors are just trying to earn an honest living. But this act of compassion has actually bred aggression thus we see the proliferation of just any form of sidewalk vendors that have taken over the pedestrian lanes and costly overpasses.

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Personally, I do not see any beauty or acts of compassion in these. We just cannot go on with such tolerance. So many colorum taxis are proliferating in the city streets because we allowed one operator to field their units even before their operations can be legitimize. Because the drivers of these taxis thought that their bossings are malakas, they thought they are the kings of the road.

Years back when giant billboards in Metro Manila were felled by a typhoon and caused deaths and damages to property, our knee-jerk reaction was to dismantle those menacing billboards at the foot of Bankerohan Bridge and elsewhere. But because some were not dismantled, the rest came back with impunity.

Months back, there used to be only "dinangdang" and sweet corn vendors in the vicinity of Rizal Park. When dusk is about to settle you see a few ambulant home-made slipper and ballot vendors. Today, it's anarchy and I am afraid that some people are getting to appreciate the mishmash as though it is a panoramic vista that can draw tourists to the city or our way of proving business enterprises in the city are growing and bursting at the seams.

But the city can still help these vendors provided they maintain strict supervision on how they conduct their flea market. If they can do this in a much advanced metropolis like Hong Kong then maybe we can do this in a smaller but more orderly scale.

There was a proposal before to convert the stretch from San Pedro corner Bolton all the way to Legaspi Street as a flea market. This is not a bad concept for as long as it is limited only during weekends, meaning Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m. and the street completely cleared by 5 a.m. the following day.

Now, our problem is whether I have a different perception of what beauty is, especially on matters involving ambulant vendors. Let's look around us and see what could be an acceptable standard of good looks shall we adapt for mobile stores. The flower shops near the SP building are kind of cute although these are permanent structures. Maybe what the city engineers can do is design one that is not very expensive but sturdy to last longer. One that is modular in construction so that the stall owners can easily assemble and disassemble these. The city government should come out with some funding for this and then sell the units to the vendors at cost and on easy installment. Brighten up San Pedro to bring daylight to the life of our vendors. Soon, when things are better, they might be selling items of good quality instead of ukay-ukay. There are other possibilities that they can look up to.

Allocate space for each vendor classifying them according to the goods and services they offer. The vendors must pay for the space and the income must be specifically spent only for tourism or beautification project of the city. Walang libre and they ought to pay like anyone of us.

Having done this, let's enforce the law against misappropriating public parks, playgrounds, pedestrian lanes and overpasses. If we have successfully implemented the smoking ban in the city there is no reason why enforcing orderliness and cleanliness cannot be observed. Let us stop this pandemonium before these get out of hand.

Have you attempted to pass through our overpasses? These multi-million-peso structures have become shelters and latrines for rugby boys, vandals and mental cases.

I just love this city so don't get mad. Besides I always believe that given the proper guidance and a bit of pep talk on discipline, our vendors will adapt and then discover that there are better ways to improve their lot including the ability to appreciate beauty.