Philippines Makeover

From a distance, we ask...'tang'na, why not? Learn about our nation, then dream up a better Philippines with Google Earth, SketchUp, and all things possible in the virtual. Render a bridge. Share lessons. Take/make a tour. Bridge investors with Pinoy producers and manufacturers. Questions, visions, delusions welcome.

    Uy! Google Earth Philippines: Google Earth ekek for Pinoys!

      Monday, July 10, 2006

      :: confluences and waterfronts

      above conceptual map of metro manila with
      suggested areas to celebrate the waterfront.

      below four opportunity sites at the confluence
      of the pasig and the san juan rivers

      (Cross posted from Another Hundred Years Hence)

      So how do we reconnect to our bay, our lake and our rivers? How do we bring them back into our shared imaginations of our cities?

      To do that, we have to celebrate our rivers, our lake and our bay. We have to celebrate them as places -and with places. Physical places where we can see and approach the water. Where the waters can reclaim their rightful place in our imagination.

      Fortunately for us, waterfronts offer some of the easiest areas for redevelopment -specially in old industrial cities.

      Cities all over the world have rediscovered and reinvested in their waterfronts. Check out False Creek in Vancouver, or London's Canary Wharf (also this), or Singapore's Boat Quay, or the Cambridgeside Galleria in Cambridge, Massachusetts -all of these were former decrepit industrial sites that were redeveloped by public and private funds, through the creation of innovative policy tools and investment vehicles.

      We've started on that road somewhat -with Marikina's Riverbanks, and Manila's Baywalk. Hopefully, the expansion of Rockwell into the old Noah's Ark Sugar factory property and the old Colgate-Palmolive factory will incorporate riverfront access. So too, I hope, Ayala's redevelopment of the Sta. Ana racetrack.

      If I had my druthers, I would turn the whole stretch of the pasig from the bay to the palace into a "riverwalk" -anchored on one end by the Intramuros and Fort Santiago and by Malacanang on the other -with the Arroceros Forest Park and a re-oriented Liwasang Bonifacio as gems in between. (Why hasn't anyone redeveloped Quiapo Ilalim?)

      I looked through Google Earth and identified at least 14 brownfield opportunity sites along the Pasig - notably at it's confluences with the San Juan and the Marikina -that are ripe for redevelopment. (Apart from the the manila oil depot -which really should move out of the city.)

      Four are right at in Sta. Ana and Sta. Mesa -on an interesting loop of land where the San Juan meets with the Pasig (see picture to the right). There are large swaths of land in Mandaluyong and Makati, along the banks of the Pasig near EDSA, and then even more right where the Marikina meets the Pasig. There are sites just east of C-5 and more south of Eastwood City (which, incidentally made the mistake of turning its back on the river.)

      I do not know how productive these properties are currently, but they would be great to redevelop into mixed-use, commercial, business and residential properties. The concerned cities should reassemble these lands - invest in the demolition and remediation (clear up any toxic messes) -then create public-private reinvestment companies to redevelop the sites. The tradeoffs (in return for the public investment) should be that the redevelop sites should set aside the waterfront for publicly accesible parks or public open spaces and that a percentage of the residential development should be affordable housing.

      I've posted the 14 sites I selected on Google Earth Philippines where you can download the kml file. Or you can view the sites via Google Maps.


      "What about the pollution?" you say. "Have you smelled the Pasig?" - Well one of the things we've discovered about redeveloping waterfronts -of placing parks next to the water -is that it only increases awareness and concern for the state of the rivers and lakes. The redeveloped sites become valuable opportunities (and venues) for educating the public about water -and the role it plays in our lives. (See this project in Chengdu, China.)

      The redeveloped sites could also be required to build in passive (or active) water treatment or bioremediation facilities such as living machines. (See also this example and this one.)

      (If you spot other places for redevelopment, send your kml file to Google Earth Philippines.)


      Anonymous Eugene said...

      There was a plan to redevelop Pasig River into a nice touristy place like Baywalk. I saw the plan in some coffee table-type book about the river in PowerBooks. As always, ningas-cogon and the lack of funds buries projects like this. I wish Pasig River could be as beautiful as the River Seine in Paris.

      Anyway, the beautification projects of Manila, Makati, and Mandaluyong seem to be a good start. Manila started lighting up the bridges and redeveloped a riverside area at Lawton. Makati created a nice riverside boardwalk along J.P. Rizal St., while Mandaluyong is doing the same on the opposite side of the river.

      Now if only the factories upriver can be relocated...

      8:31 PM  
      Blogger Urbano dela Cruz said...


      thanks for the heads up. I do recall a masterplan for the pasig initiated by the pasig river foundation. - nice pictures but no real policy initiatives (or political strategy) to get things on the ground.

      As to the River Seine, be encouraged by this tidbit:

      "The Seine River today is struggling very hard to keep itself alive and healthy so it can act as a tourist attraction, for transportation or for just the beautiful view. Around thirty five to forty years ago the Seine River was declared gone for ever. The levels of pollution from agriculture and industry were finding themselves to the river therefore polluting the waters. The sediments that would come from factories would slowly float down to the bottom of the water causing havoc. Also the fish that were always swimming in the water had disappeared with no trace, the plant life was starting to die out and the once clean but now dirty water was unsafe for swimming."

      I agree on the good starts for the communities adjacent to the river. What we need is mechanisms that will make the maintenance independent of municipal political will.

      I believe, in the long term, the real estate logic for the upstream factories will necessitate that they eventually move. In the meantime, we could do a lot by requiring them to build waste outflow channels that are surfaced (i.e.- they should be able to smell it) and are upstream of their own property.

      4:20 AM  
      Blogger paetechie said...

      why not visit the Ayala Museum for the Ode to the Pasig River exhibit? they have artist's ideas presentations of their visions...

      not only visions the on-going rehab efforts being made

      i joined the Historic Cruise of the Pasig just last Saturday with Prof. Ambeth Ocampo guiding us...

      will blog about it one of these days


      9:41 AM  

      Post a Comment

      << Home