ELBI STRIPPED: Starbucks Gentrification

STARBUCKS

Elbi’s Disappearing Act

Less than a year has passed since Cady’s graduation yet when she visited last month, the campus has become a little more unfamiliar to her. A concrete skeleton stands on what used to be the home of We Deliver (or Silog Express), a meat shop, and hidden but loud photocopying shops. Its bottom is dressed in tarpaulin bearing a familiar cosmopolitan logo – Starbucks. Like other UPLB alumni, Cady feels the Elbi she has known is slowly being erased and replaced by a cosmopolitan fantasy. An army of tweets celebrated Starbucks’ arrival citing accessibility of good coffee and the transformation of Elbi to a modern university town. However, like the trojan horse that Troy wildly celebrated as a gift, the arrival of Starbucks is a premonition of much worse things to come.

The Starbucks Effect

Pierre Carapetian, a real estate broker in Canada, has observed that properties that surround a Starbucks store appreciate in value after the store opens. Quartz and The Gaurdian, two western news and opinion sites, have also cited the impact Starbucks and other coffee shops such as Dunkin Donuts have on property value.

Carpetian, Quartz, and The Guardian clarify that even prior to the construction and opening of a Starbucks store, properties that surround the lot are already high in value. Starbucks’ present aggravates the situation and encourages property values to skyrocket because of the personalities that flock the coffee shop.

While rising property values sounds good to property owners, it is the poor and low-middle class that suffer most of the brunt. As customers from upper and middle classes flock Starbucks, businesses would take the opportunity to acquire properties adjacent to the coffee shop to tap a new market. Businesses would offer owners of apartments, dormitories, or establishments that line Grove generous amounts of compensation for their desired properties. This would mean that owners would have to evict their tenants or residents to sell their property. It would also mean that owners will exploit this opportunity to increase rent to either attract a wealthier class to occupy their rooms or encourage big business to replace small sized businesses occupying their space. This is called Gentrification.

In the United States, the construction of Starbucks or a high-end apartment complex, meant that it was time for colored people to pack their bags and bid farewell to a town they called home for centuries if they can not afford the new set of rent prices. These gentrified areas were thriving pots of ethnic cultures but after Starbucks, they have become leisure spots for many of privileged American millennials.

While most of the occupants were able to relocate after the annex of Vega was torn down for Starbucks’ construction, some of the occupants who sold umbrellas and knick-knacks are now left on the pavements of Grove facing a possible threat of eviction from town authorities. Most were able to afford to relocate but those who can not shell out more are those who rely most on their livelihood to survive.

Jose Alejandro Inciong, a BS Biology graduate from UPLB, claims that there are rumors circulating in Los Banos that multinational corporations are on the hunt for property along Lopez and and National Highway for their local branches. He says that Starbucks is just one of the first few chapters of Elbi’s transfiguration.

New businesses opened by Multinational Corporations provide job opportunities and stimulate economic growth but at what cost? Their profits go to their coffers while they can avoid taxes and taxes can become politicized against the provincial poor.

Coffee could warm the sleepless Iskolar but it has left the evicted and financially disempowered cold on the streets.

The Untapped, rising

The renovation of Selina’s, Dunkin Donuts and Paponei’s, the rise of Centtro Boulevard and BonChon, the opening of National Bookstore, and the expansion of Bugong and Seoul Kitchen in the recent years are symptoms that Elbi’s profile has changed. The sudden and unexpected demise of Sulyaw, a legendary establishment known for its cheap meals (and world-class sanitation), could have been a trigger that Elbi was moving away from frugality (this could be true if not for the sudden stardom of Bogart’s Bentelog)

It is safe to assume that the demographic now consists of students who come from middle and upper income classes of the population. While Elbi culture demands one reforms their own ways to adapt to the hermit and frugal life of an Elbitizen, the current demographic’s desire for a cosmopolitan life defined by coffee consumption is about to be tapped. The harms that these desires and businesses bring might be unintended but they have long term implications. Higher property prices and the existence of highly valued establishments affect the cost of living in the university town.

Expensive rents would mean lesser options for current and prospective students who come from low income backgrounds. Education is free but students and parents also weigh in cost of living as part of choosing a university. Expensive restaurants might not kill all budget-friendly establishments but it trims down cheaper options for students. Much worse is the threat of eviction faced by established but cheap restaurants by big corporations and profit-driven property owners. In this scenario, the solution of providing stipends for low-income students is good but how far those stipends can go is the next question that needs to be resolved.

If Elbi refuses if not fails to address this, the university student population becomes less heterogenous by being composed more by the middle and upper classes. The consequence for academic freedom and diversity are harmful because it would mean a community who would have lesser boundaries of difference with regards to lived experience, thinking, and lifestyle. Much frightening are the lost talents and intellect who refuse to pursue Elbi because of high cost of living.

It is not Elbi’s obligation to adjust to the demands and desires of the middle and upper class for high priced coffee or Korean fried chicken. If market forces become the Oracle of our faith as a community, patronizing the remaining local cheap establishments could be a weapon to signal a strong demand.

If Elbi becomes a town of the privileged, does a state university then fully serve its purpose?

Like many alumni, Cady plans to visit Elbi annually because she still considers it as home. But she has to confront the question – “Is it still home when the parts of pieces of it have changed?”

She just hopes, Elbi doesn’t pull off an entire disappearing act.[P]

Words: John Albert Pagunsan; Graphics: Maria Maxine Jaleco

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Da Feb Fair Shooperheroes

by DIANA JANE PLOFINO

Tol! Tapos na ang #TanglawUPLBFebFair2016! In fairness, ang takaw character ng hashtag GG. So nasaksihan na natin ang nagsilabasang iba’t ibang abilidad, at lihim na lakas ng sangkatauhan (lalo na ng mga kalalakihan)na nagmula pa sa agimat at anting-anting na makapangyarihan. Mga agimat at anting-anting na may iba’t ibang pormang, nililok pa ng mga diwata, dinasalan ng mga albularyong mahiwaga,pinatibay ni Datu Sikatuna, at itinago ng mga Panginoong may lupa. At ngayo’y, nasa pangangalaga na ng mga superhero ng kasalukuya’t hinaharap. Kaya mga tol! Eto na! Eto na sila, ang mga superherong siguradong nakasalubong mo, simula pa nung Martes, mga superherong tuwing Pebrero mo lang makikita. Dito, ditu sa Unibersidad ng mga Pahipster at Looking for Bang! Babeem!

  1. Hook-eye

3.pngTingin pakilawa at pakanan, *target locked*, ayun sa booth ng                     may malaking…! Matalas ang kanilang paningin, kaya’t mabilis silang makatagpo ng makakalaban para sa isang gabi. Siya ang superherong uhaw makaganti matapos matalo sa unang/pangalawa/pangatlong/…/nth na pakikitunggali sa pag-ibig.

  1. GCbel2.png

Sa lahat ng superhero siya ang pinakamaraming kalaban. Si Quiz, Reaction Paper, LRP Topic, isama mo pa pati si simpleng Seatwork, Open Notes ay ilan lamang sa listahan. Ngunit, dahil sa kalasag niyang handouts at espada niy
ang highlighter, kahit nagwawala na si Gloc-9 sa stage rock on lang kaya nila pagsabay sabayin ang mga kalaban, huwag lang magBAGSAKAN.

  1. Inspireder Man

5.pngPronounced as Ins-payrd-der Man (as in Inspired). Ang maipilit lang na sounds-like superhero, pero kahit pilitang pangalan, siya ang superherong di na kelangang ipagpilitin ang sarili sa iba dahil may nagmamay-ari na hart hart! Bangag na bangag siya sa pagmamahal at ang tanging kalaban niya ay ➼ </3.

  1. Super Marlou4.png

Sino nga bang makatatalo sa taong matibay ang loob? Tipong Mang Jose, ang superhero na pwedeng mong arkilahin, pero siya okay lang kahit libre, “Bashtah pakish, shapat nah”. Pinsan niya si Hook-eye, at ang pinagkaiba nila si Hook-eye ay my first, second, …,  nth, siya wala, buti na nga lang biniyayaan siya ng kapal ng mukha.

  1. Super Inggo

1.pngTulad ng pangalang niyang walang kaugnayan sa kapangyarihan niya, wala siyang pakialam kung di sya sumusunod sa norm/trend basta nandito siya sa Feb Fair para rumak, pumarteh at magpahena. Patahi-tahimik lang sila ngunit kapag mundo nila’y nayanig“kalaban ang kalaban, kalaban ang kakampi”. Puputok ang tago nilang lakas malaSuper Saiyan kapag nasagi mo ang kinakain nilang inihaw na mais.

*  *  *

Sino ka ba sa kanila? O sino idolo mo sa mga superhero na ito? None of the above ba ang sagot mo?

Parang may kulang sa listahan di ba? Sa mga superherong nagsulpotan sa bahagi ng taong ito, nasaan na nga ba ang kanilang mga ninuno, ang orihinal na superhero, ang Isagani sa El Filibusterismo, ang siyang nagpakawala ng santelmo? Ang aynying nya imamaw nyang nyupnyake mo, ang boses ng mga ngongo, ang pag-asa ng mga pango… Pero seryoso na mga tol, usapang babae na to, walang talkshitan, di ushapang lashing, usapang intelektwal lang (warning: the next paragraph is explosive for azzhulz)

Ang mga superhero na ito, wala mang malaLaser eyes ni Hook-eye, magic handouts and highlighter ni GCbel,Mary Jane ni Inspireder Man,poisonous face ni Super Marlou, at kamehameha wave ni Super Inggo, taglay naman nila ang agimat ng paninindigan, anting-anting ng pakikialam, at kapangyarihan ng pagkilos. Ang superhero na ito ay walang iba, kundi ang TUNAY na Iskolar ng Bayan PARA sa Bayan. At siya, siya ay si Kabataan, ang “Taliba sa Pulitika ng Pagbabago”, ang TANGLAW ng bayang ito. Rak! \m/ [P]

SKETCHPAD | Magbasa, mag-re-ad.

ni KUWAN

Expectation: BAYAD LAHAT NG PINAGHIRAPAN KO!

Kumakain na ako sa Big Belly’s.

Kaya nadaanan ko na ng GM yung mga orgmates ko.

Tumalon ako ng mga tatlong beses.

Natanggap ko na yung decision. Approved!

Cursive at matinta yung pirma. Kulay blue ang gamit na ballpen. Nasa dilaw na notepad at naka-staple.

Nakita ko.

Pumasok ako sa pinto ng OC.

Pagod. Hingal. Punas. 2 weeks na akong ganito. Ubos na yung perang tabi na dapat pambabayad sa tubig at kuryente.

Jeep. Lakad. Jeep. Lakad. Jeep.

Yung iba—vacation mode.

Wala pa kasi yung pipirma sana. College Dean. Students’ Dean/OSA. Student Welfare. Committee. Adviser.

Ang dami kong dinaanan—pinagdadaanan.

Legit na papers na patunay na ‘di ako delingkwente.

Photocopy ng ID ni nanay.

SAP.

TCG.

Plan of Action para di na maulit.

Plan of study.

Patunay na alam ni nanay yung kalagayan ko – naka-notaryo.

Ito na nga ang letter.

Hassle sa English.

Nagsulat ako ng mala-love letter sa haba.

One day akong nagprocess ng pagmo-move on.

Aray. At bumagsak ako sa removals.

Kahit nag-aral ako nang maigi, nahirapan pa rin ako sa exam ni Prof.

Nalaman ko pang kwatro ako sa isang subject.

Singko na ako sa isa.

Deliks akong mag-probi ulit nang magkasunod.

Labasan na ng grades.

Tapos na ang sem.

Nag-finals ako.

Napaka-haggard!

Nag-jam-pack ba naman ang acads, org, problema sa lablayp at sa bahay.

Sa acads, nahihirapan ako sa nagtuturo at nahirapan akong matuto.

Sa org, nagsabay-sabay ang mga events at ka-dyahe-han.

Sa lablayp, patuloy pa ring umaasa.

Sa bahay, nataong walang mapasukan ang tatay ko.

Nanay ko, nag-aalaga kay bunso.

May sakit si bunso.

Kaya ko ‘to sige.

Kagagaling ko lang sa probi last sem.

Nagsimula nanaman ang pasukan.

Reality: MARAMI AKONG BINAYARAN, NAGHIRAP AKO!

Iyak. Disapproved.

Cinemalaya: ‘Di na Malaya?

NI JOHN MOSES CHUA

Kapag sinabing Cinemalaya ang mga maiisip: indie, mura, uncensored. Ang Cinemalaya ay isang film festival sa Pilipinas na naglalayong maipalabas ang mga Filipino Independent Films, o sa mas maikli—indie.

Ang mga sumasali dito ay pawang mga independent na indibidwal o grupo. At dahil independent, sari-sarili rin dito ng gastos. Sariling camera, sariling direktor, at sariling artista. In short, mura. Lahat ng sakripisyo at gastos ay para lang talaga sa espirito ng sining at  paglalahad ng mga mensaheng tanging sa sining lang maipaparating. Kadalasan, maselan o talagang subersibo ang mga tema sa ganitong pelikula. Kaya, hindi ito pumapasa sa classification ng Movies and Television Regulatory Board (MTRCB). Hindi napapayagang maipalabas sa publiko.

Kaso, kung mayroong maituturo na pinakamaganda sa mga pelikulang produkto ng cinemalaya, ito yung pagiging bastos at subersibo nito. Kaya nga cinemalaya, kasi malaya. Continue reading

Bystander effect: the curious case of Chancellor Cruz

NI JOHN PAUL OMAC

Despite all the clamour against issues that have blatantly smacked the welfare of the students recently and all the efforts to reach out for immediate substantial actions, it appears none had been enough to incite Chancellor Cruz to take any sizeable step.

Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz, who succeeded former chancellor Luis Rey Velasco in 2011, is now approaching the end of his sophomore year as the University’s primary executive officer. As with previous chancellors, his first two years in post is not an exemption from various difficulties that have struck the studentry. However, the lack of necessary actions to these issues further aggregates the problems which, in turn, burden the students. Continue reading

MUMBLINGS | Hawlang salamin

NI PAULIN REYES

Pansinin ninyo ang loob ng mga air-conditioned bus na bumabiyahe ngayon- walang bukasan at natatakpan ng mga kurtina ang mga bintana nito. Sa loob ay may isa o minsan ay mas maraming tv sets kung saan pwede kang manuod ng mga piniratang pelikula ng libre. Liban pa dito, mayroon ring free wifi kaya pwedeng-pwedeng mag-Facebook o Twitter sa mga high-tech na gadgets habang hinihintay mong makarating ka sa iyong pupuntahan. Masarap ring matulog dahil malamig sa loob. Isa ako sa mga estudyanteng lingguhan sumasakay ng bus dahil malayo ang bahay namin sa Los Baños. At sa tuwing bibiyahe ako, mas gusto kong nakakasakay sa mga airconditioned na bus dahil mas komportable kung ikukumpara mo sa mga lumang bus- hindi mo malalanghap ang usok ng mga sasakyan dahil hindi mo kailangang magbukas ng bintana para lang mahanginan. Minsan ay maganda rin ang ipinapalabas na pelikula at nakakatuwang manuod habang nasa biyahe. Continue reading

HODGEPODGE | ‘Kume’

NI PAUL CARSON

“Hindi na goberyno ang nagpapasweldo sa amin,” wika ng matandang babaeng naka-uniporme. Kauuwi lang niya galing sa trabaho; buong araw siyang nag-aayos ng mga papeles sa isang land transportation authority.

Araw-araw niyang nababasa ang balitang aakuin na umano ng isang kumpanya ang pamamahala sa kanilang opisina. Nagsimula na nga ito nang ang kumpanya na ang naglalabas ng sweldo sa kanila. Bukas, parating na ang kinontrata nito para ayusin ang layout ng opisina; may mga bagong trabahador.

Subalit bukas, makikita rin niyang wala namang uupo sa mga bagong cubicle. Madaragdagan ng sampu ang nasa listahan ng mga empleyado, at pareho silang P15,000 kada buwan ang sahod. Nangyari na ‘to dati, nang halos isang buong silid ang inilaan sa mga bagong empleyado, ngunit wala rin namang nag-oopisina dito. Ang nakapagtataka, may attendance record sila; walang liban, at puro overtime. Continue reading