Stop trying to make ‘Pobla’ happen. It’s not going to happen!


Recently, barangay officials of Poblacion in Makati City passed a resolution asserting the public to call it “Poblacion” rather than “Pobla.” It was met with mixed reaction from the netizens with some lambasting them (particularly Twitter) and some supporting
Place names are part of place identity (pagkakakilanlan ng lugar) which indicates a place’s culture, history, and identity as a community. In the Philippines, the place name “poblacion” commonly refers to the old town or city center, as a result of the reduccion efforts of the Spanish colonizers (or later efforts) to which they resettled native Filipinos under their rule. The concept of “bajo de la campana” or under the bells demarcate the space where the pueblo occupies. The closer the residents live in the plaza or the church, the closer they are to the “sentro” of power. Kaya minsan natatalakay din ang konsepto ng “taga-labas” and “taga-sentro” sa kasaysayan sa heograpikal na pananaw. And this may still even persist today as “taal-dayo/tumandok-pangayaw” dynamics.
Población in Spanish means “population.”
Recently, the old city center of Makati is having its resurgence as "the place to be" for night life, good food, and entertainment especially the "yuppie" culture, wherein they call the place "Pobla," a shorter name of Poblacion. Despite this youthful image, Poblacion has retained some of its "old world" traditions. When we had our cultural mapping project back then, I was surprised that Makati has some practices and social traditions that have persisted despite the fast-paced modernization of the other half of the city. There were concerns about gentrification and alienation, to which revitalized old city or town centers are somehow experiencing mostly.

For me, the assertion of the barangay officials is a legitimate practice in context of place identity and place names. Maaaring ito ay concern ng community itself to which the shortening of the place name is a threat to its cultural heritage. It does happen whenever place names are changed such as in street names or towns. Bora and Boracay was an example. They may have felt alienated with the term “Pobla.” On the other hand, placemaking or “pagsasalunan” itself is dynamic, never-ending, and imperfect. The term “Pobla” may be a reflection of social changes that are happening within and outside of the space. Place names change too. After all, in older maps they call it “San Pedro de Macati,” but now called “Makati.”
A better action, I think, is the barangay officials can bridge between Poblacion and Pobla through consistent use of the formal name and acknowledge its current name. After all, if consistent ang pagkakagamit, hindi ito basta basta nawawala, like QC is to Quezon City, Katips is to Katipunan, BGC as to Bonifacio Global City. Promote Poblacion and Pobla as interchangeable and an iteration of today’s place.
How does the local community think of this move?
The title was inspired from the movie "Mean Girls." Regina George says this to Gretchen Wieners: "Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen. It's not going to happen!"