Global Monstrosity

3:37 am PHT

Being a person with good spatial intelligence, some talent for visual arts, and technical inclinations, it’s not a surprise that I’m a map freak. I love maps; I probably wouldn’t mind a job in the field of cartography or geographical information systems (GIS). And don’t be surprised if you find me poring over those you-are-here maps longer than the average person.

Consequently, one of my biggest pet peeves is inaccurate maps, especially those maps that are designed to look accurate and not simply meant to just give directions. (You can still give me hastily drawn map direction going to a party at your place; I won’t bite.)

Ever encountered those real estate brochures promising to give you a taste of “Mediterranean-inspired world-class living only 5 minutes from Makati, Ortigas, and heck, even Cebu City!”? They typically have maps that show the location of the residential site, confirming how close they are to Makati, Ortigas, Cebu, malls, schools, airports, and the like. Normally, I would deride those marketing maps but I just pardon them since they do what they’re supposed to do: to show where the site is located. I’d only castigate them if they placed interesting spots wrongly, like one brochure I saw recently which showed De La Salle Zobel in Filinvest instead of in Ayala Alabang.

One example of a map that is so inaccurate that it boggles the mind is the National Bookstore map of Metro Manila. Their Philippines map is so good and useful (though not too updated) that I wonder why they can’t get the Metro Manila map right. Their depiction of the U.P. Diliman campus alone is full of inaccuracies. Imagine Roxas Avenue (the one fronting AS) going all the way to Katipunan. As if Vinzons Hall wasn’t there. Fun. And they’ve updated it to reflect recent development, like Fort Bonifacio and the reclamation area. Sadly, they placed Eastwood City 1 kilometer off-course, in Barangay Ugong Norte instead of Barangay Bagumbayan. If you want a good map of Metro Manila, I’d recommend Asiatype’s CitiAtlas; it’s the best one I’ve seen in terms of aesthetics, utility, and accuracy.

All that discussion just serves as an introduction to my main point. Remember the Philippines’ biggest sphere I know of that I mentioned before? I was right, they did want to depict the world on it via stainless steel shaped into islands and continents. Looking at the finished product, I wished they just left it bare instead. What a waste of a perfectly good sphere.

The islands and continents look as if they were drawn by a ten-year-old kid. Panama is missing. Spain is actually touching Africa (for like 500 kilometers). Myanmar is missing (India goes directly to Thailand). Antarctica is nowhere. And the Philippines? They predictably enlarged it so that you can’t miss it. Mindanao pushed down Borneo and Sulawesi so that General Santos City is almost on the equator instead of 6° north of it. Luzon actually bumped Taiwan out of the way so that Beijing’s nuclear weapons are now pointed at Ilocos.

They can’t give me the excuse that it’s hard to create an accurate rendition of the world on that sphere. Americans did it with New York’s Unisphere created 40 years ago, is more than twice as high, and even tilted 23.5°. It also has elevations to boot and three suspended rings representing the orbits of Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and Telstar. While the Unisphere is not perfect (the Philippines is just one blob, and Java, Sumatra, and the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia are fused together), the shapes and positions of the landmasses are quite accurate.

With a smaller size, the designers of what I call the EdsaGlobe should’ve matched the Unisphere for correctness, if not better, while still being typhoon-proof. As it is, it’s a poor excuse for an “artistic” sculpture.

I would’ve like to show photos of how laughably wrong the EdsaGlobe is but then, it’s fortunate that I don’t have a camera since that globe doesn’t deserve to have its picture taken.

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