Arroceros forest park should be preserved
ROSES AND THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - April 21, 2005 - 12:00am
The most popular tribute ever paid to trees is Joyce Kilmer’s poem. It is not unusual to see excerpts of his poem in placards exhibited where there are trees. Trees are natural objects that touch many people, but it is also true to many, they are just nuisances that stand on their way.

We believe that every city should have a forest park. In fact, most of our neighboring Asian countries have preserved and developed their cities around forest parks. On this score, Manila is fortunate to have a forest park, for in November of 1993, Manila signed an agreement with Winner Foundation to initiate and develop a forest park in the DECS property owned by the City of Manila. We had a close attachment to the site because that’s where the office of the Department of Education was when I was Secretary of Education during President Diosdado Macapagal’s time. The Education Department’s Office was then just a quonset hut abandoned by the American liberators of Manila. It had only 150 existing old trees. Then Manila Seedling Bank planted 3,500 saplings and maintained them for one year. Later, with the support of then-President and Mrs. Fidel V. Ramos, the City of Manila signed a memorandum of agreement with the Winner Foundation, Today, the 2.1 hectares of Arroceros Street has 61 different species of trees and 8,000 ornamental plants, they also have 10 species of birds. In Dasmariñas Village, Makati, the trees now abound with Palawan squirrels. We hope that the Winner Foundation also introduce Palawan squirrels in Arroceros Park.

Now, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza has plans to construct the City College of Manila in Mehan Garden and a teacher’s building in Arroceros Forest Park. We hope that this is done with a minimum damage to Arroceros Forest Park. We think that the ideal place for both the City College of Manila and the teachers’ building would be in Intramuros which to this day is totally neglected and undeveloped. In fact, it is a squatter’s haven. Intramuros used to be the center of our major educational institutions – the University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila and Letran. This, of course, would mean that the City of Manila would have to purchase land in Intramuros from their private owners who obviously have no plans to develop Intramuros. So, if effected, it would not only save Arroceros Park but develop Intramuros to what it once was – the educational center of Manila.

Mayor Lito Atienza has undoubtedly done a great deal to beautify the capital city of the Philippines. He has given the Manila portion of Dewey Boulevard not only an entirely new look, but converted it into a commercial place that has unquestionably created a lot of jobs. Atienza has always been an artistic person. He and his wife were former dancers of the Bayanihan troupe and he has some academic architectural background. We hope that his development plans for Manila do not clash with the preservation of the Arroceros Forest Park. To the best of our knowledge, only Manila and Quezon City have forest parks in all of Metro Manila.

There are other places to build schools in Manila, but no other place to put up a forest park if Arroceros Park loses its 10-year-old forest.

ARROCEROS ARROCEROS FOREST PARK ARROCEROS PARK CITY CITY COLLEGE OF MANILA CITY OF MANILA FOREST INTRAMUROS MANILA PARK WINNER FOUNDATION
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