Manila could have been Hong Kong

My group arrived in Hong Kong last June 15. One week has just passed.

Hong Kong City

A street scene from Hong Kong. The red cars are taxis. They are classic sturdy Toyotas. I presume all taxis in Hong Kong look the same.

A week ago when I revealed that I would be in Hong Kong, my mama and sisters were all excited for me. Call that love. I never got to travel with them because my schedule would not fit in with theirs. Cheerfully they advised me about many regarding passports, immigration, where to shop, which place to visit and so on. When asked how long I would stay there, I replied, “Isang buwan.” They fell silent. “Ah ok, mas marami ka pa palang mapupuntahan kaysa sa amin.” Not that their advices amounted to nil, I really needed those, but they thought perhaps I’d have more time for lakwatsa. But we’d have more of that. We’d see.

Hong Kong City 2

Hong Kong last week was really hot. It was already June 15 yet hardly any rain in sight. But good sun makes good pictures.

Although considered the shopping center of Asia, we did not come to Hong Kong to shop – and happily resigned to that fact.

Hong Kong is short of a miracle. A small country with very limited natural resources to offer. I mean Hong Kong is composed of islands literally made of rocks. And yet it is so progressive in all senses. By far it even assumes a very sensitive role in China’s political system, especially now that it clamors for Democracy. As a foreigner I really admire Hong Kong’s implementation of laws. It is really a country of discipline. Walking its street, I would definitely question Filipino’s popular definition of freedom. What we have back in our country is too much freedom, needless to say.

So how come Hong Kong is what it is now? This is just a very simple overview of Hong Kong’s success as a country. One of our lecturers happens to be a Chinese-Filipino. He was born and raised in Binondo, but is now a Dominican priest residing in Macau. He told me that Hong Kong a few years ago was just a dirty place, with nothing much in it. The acquisition of Hong Kong was a puzzle for the British people since Hong Kong is composed of islands made of rocks. What do you do with a group of rocks? That eventually became a long gone impasse considering that Hong Kong sits in a very beautiful spot where it serves as a gateway between China and its Asian neighbors: Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Korea and Japan among others. Politically it is unique, but precarious, like Taiwan in terms of its relation with China. Though it’s political situation is a very big factor, but what really made Hong Kong a business hub is its deep waters. You can have big and small ships come and go through its ports. What is really cool is that ships will always pass by the sea between Philippines and Hong Kong. It is a highway. Hong Kong government knew by knack that ships just needed a good stop over port for exchange of goods. And they knew exactly that this can only be done with excellent maritime policies. Remove tax and you can just drop your merchandise in Hong Kong. As a result goods here are relatively cheap.

Hong Kong City Pier

The ferry boats from Victoria Harbour at Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. Central is at Hong Kong Island. Tsim Sha Tsui is Hong Kong territory attached to mainland China. Their ferries are incredibly efficient.

I know you did not miss the point – Manila Bay could have been Hong Kong’s port. It has been a favorite port of Asians and Europeans for centuries. We are a prime location. Manila bay has deep waters and is a natural cove providing good shelter from storms… Manila Bay, hands down, is an excellent port. But we undervalued it thereby it never crossed our minds to innovate on maritime policies, improve the culture around the area, and so many stuffs that have barely crossed our minds. That is a very simplistic account of what made Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


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