A reader’s dying Manila
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2018 - 12:00am

This is from a reader, Rafael E. Rueda Jr., who wishes to share his experiences as a citizen of Manila, as well as his views on how to save the city from further decay. We share excerpts of his letter. Please read on.

“During the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade era, the city of Manila was one of the greatest and prosperous cities, and continued being prosperous during the pre-war time with minimal flooding, fair population density, more open spaces such as parks and playgrounds, more nature’s biodiversity, with the first tramvia with no traffic problems, and pollution within acceptable levels.

“Post-war started the city’s deterioration due to diminishing open spaces, ecological balance of nature and biodiversity, clean water supply, cultural heritage items, recharged area to aquifer, good surface, lines and grades of roadways, sidewalks/side yards, off-street parking spaces, scenic views in landscape, streetscape, cityscape and skyscape, and good drainage of sewerage. Manila Bay also became the flood basin of three large regions.

“Also contributing to the city deterioration was increasing population density, pollution, flooding, urban poor/squatters, traffic congestion, vehicles, violations of the provisions of the Building Code, zone ordinances, city ordinances, problems in garbage generation, collection and disposal, obstructions on roadways, sidewalks/side yards, social evils, and corruption and cronyism.

“Due to the causes of city deterioration including those of other urban centers in Metro Manila and the Philippines, former president Ferdinand Marcos during the Martial Law era gave instructions to enact the National Building Code, the Local Government Code, zoning ordinances, the Fire Code, Traffic Code, and many others.

“The secretary of the DPWTC directed Col. Rafael Rueda Jr. to prepare the study on the Refuse Management System for Metro Manila, which was completed in 1974 and implemented by then MMC governor Imelda Marcos in 1975 with Col. Rueda as her consultant.

Golden moments

“With the completion and immediate enforcement of those laws/codes, and the implementation of the completed plans for Metro Manila, it was golden moments for the city.

“The golden moments of the city of Manila was supplemented by the Manila Urban Renewal of Fred Lim and Mayor Lito Atienza in 1990, headed by artchitect Juan Maravillas, the chief of the Manila Planning Office.

“His two consultants were architect Virgilio Villanueva, the chief of the MMDA Planning Office, and Col. Rafael Rueda Jr., consultant to the city mayor. Members were technical professionals of the City Planning Office and City Engineering Office.

“The Asian Development Bank had greatly assisted the first urban renewal.

“The major projects of the Manila Urban Renewal task force were the Quiapo Plaza Miranda and vicinity landscape with good lighting, the Sta. Cruz Commercial area vicinity LRT 1 route, the landscape with good lighting and walkway of Baywalk along Roxas Blvd., the landscape of the side yards of President Quirino Ave., etc.

Urban renewal

“All these were started together with other major projects of the Samahan NGO organized by Caltex president Francis Ablan in 1989 after the first grand massive rally not only Manila or in Metro Manila, but in the Philippines, with thousands of participants from all sectors of society.

“Mayor Atienza headed the City Hall officials and employees, the Manila police force, and the barangays, while Ablan headed Samahan with over 100 business establishments including Pagcor (which provided financial assistance), schools, and hospitals.

“The following day after this rally, all the projects in the Manila Urban Renewal I and that of the Samahan were started. For peace and order, the Manila Police Force conducted seminars for all barangays. A cleanliness campaign was held in support of the general cleanliness program of MMC.

“Beautification of all sceneries, landscapes, streetscapes, cityscapes, and skyscapes was conducted, while in the greening project, about a thousand trees were planted.

“Unfortunately, most of the trees died due to the negligence of the barangay chairmen. As an example, a total of 32 trees were planted in Barangay 691, and all are gone now.

Urban decay

“The Manila Urban Renewal II program has been forgotten when architect Maravillas died. In the approach of the second millennium, the city of Manila fell an “urban decay with reasons as previously stated.

“Problems worsened. Population further increased. Garbage disposal is still a great problem. Garbage transfer and collection became erroneous and hazardous.

“With this urban decay, Manila is dying and something should be done. At this point, our good and efficient strongman, President Duterte should take these seven bold actions: 1. Organize a task force for Manila Urban Renewal II to be headed by the NEDA chief and assisted by the Manila city mayor. 2. Decongest Manila. 3. Remove/control fixed and moveable obstructions on roadways, and sidewalks/side yards. 4. Prevent vehicles without out-street parking to use or park on public roads after three years. 5. Ban the reclamation of Manila Bay. 6. Build good surface, lines and grades of roadways, sidewalks/side yards. And 7. Screen barangay chairmen on social evils (drug addiction, smoking, alcoholic drinking and gambling) including criminality, corruption, etc.”

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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