The Post's Manila correspondent could have been describing New York City or Washington, D.C., in his piece "Oh Manila! Once Stately City Is Dirty, Dangerous" {news story, Jan. 18}. "Many parts of Manila are despairing, depressing, confusing collections of dilapidated shacks, vacant lots strewn with garbage and abandoned buildings . . . adorned with . . . graffiti. . . . Families live destitute on the streets, often huddled in doorways or packed together, five people to a cot. . . . Street crime is rampant. . . . Most notorious are the car thieves." This description could very well apply to parts of New York or even Washington.

Manila has continued to grow by leaps and bounds since World War II, serving as a magnet to rural people in need of employment. But urban congestion has been the bane of expanding cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Tokyo, Rome and countless others. The Post's reporter makes it sound like a newly discovered phenomenon.

Is it safe to go to Central Park in New York after 6 p.m.? In contrast, Manila's Rizal Park is a popular promenade along Manila Bay. Potholes? Aren't they a perennial subject of agonized debate in this city?

L. V. CORONEL

Falls Church