Friday, May 18, 2012

Save Metro Manila's open spaces! We need more green zones and public parks!

We were meeting high up a building in Mandaluyong City this afternoon. It's a view I'm quite familiar with. And I've always thought of the "what ifs" every time we meet there since one gets a different perspective of Metro Manila, the full picture if I may say, with views from high above. In front of us was the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club. Behind us was the National Center for Mental Health. What do they have in common? They are among the last remaining lungs of Metro Manila.

Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club
I just realized that many of the few remaining open spaces in Metro Manila are private golf courses and old government facilities. But one thing is certain, we definitely need a public central park!

Quezon City Central Park (Satellite image from Google Maps)
Maybe it's possible in Quezon City where Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC), Veterans Memorial Center (VMC), Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC), parts of UP Diliman and LWUA Balara Complex can be connected to form a superpark or greenbelt of sorts. We need more superparks and not supermalls don't you think?

When we were being consulted by the office of QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte for the Quezon City Tourism Plan just last year, I proposed this idea of a Quezon City Central Park and Green Belt which I was told QC Mayor Herbert Bautista liked. I wonder if there are any updates.

Veterans Memorial Center, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center and Quezon Memorial Circle (Satellite image from Google Maps)
As part of the proposal, NAPWC could be professionally landscaped and transformed into a botanical garden that can earn more income from tourists. Note that we don't have a botanical garden in Metro Manila. NAPWC could be connected to QMC and Veterans via an underground pedestrian tunnel. No stairs, just an incline so people can bike or jog under towards the other side. I raised the point of removing all the unnecessary structures at the QMC (such as the unsightly amusement park) and having it landscaped professionally.

Parts of the Quezon City Hall property could also be integrated in the Quezon City Central Park since there are areas that still have a lot of large trees.

Quezon Memorial Circle, Agricultural Training Institute, National Hydraulic Research Center and UP Arboretum Forest (Satellite image from Google Maps)
QMC could then be connected by another tunnel and landscaped bike and jogging lanes to UP Diliman Campus. Another set of tunnels and bike and jogging lanes connect QMC to the UP Arboretum Forest through the Agricultural Training Institute and National Hydraulic Research Center. Note again that the lanes have to be landscaped properly! University Avenue used to have beautifully landscaped surroundings designed by National Artist Ildefonso P. Santos, Jr.

Local Water Utilities Administration and Balara Filtration Facility (Satellite image from Google Maps)
UP Diliman in turn could have landscaped bike and jogging lanes to Balara which is also another green zone as you can see from the map. And the Balara facility can be improved in such a way that it becomes a public park as well.

National Center for Mental Health with a cover of green behind and informal settlers in front
Back to Mandaluyong, seeing the large colony of informal settlers in front of the mental health center was depressing. When politicians nurture informal settler communities for their votes, we lose these few remaining open spaces.

I was told the property in front, that is said to be owned by DWSD, is about 60 hectares. And it's all informal settlers now. Too bad. If only most of our local officials had vision and were long-term thinkers, that wouldn't have happened. Such a pity also that most efforts are geared towards the next campaign. Who knows, that large patch of green on the property of the National Center for Mental Health might be the next victim of our politicians' bright ideas. Several people informed me that someone did have that "bright" idea of trying to sell the property. But it fizzled out due to strong opposition. Imagine, if the mental facility is moved elsewhere, Mandaluyong can have its own central park!

Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area
We don't have much green spaces in Metro Manila left. Aside from those mentioned, in Quezon City there is the La Mesa Watershed (parts of which are becoming residential areas and government officials seem to be doing nothing); Manila has the Arroceros Forest Park; and the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area along the coast of Manila Bay (which some idiots in government are proposing for reclamation) are just some of the few green areas we have left.

Congress should enact a law prohibiting the sale and conversion of government properties in Metro Manila with significant patches of trees and open spaces. These are all potential public parks. The funds they can earn from selling these land to condominium or mall developers is short-term and pales in comparison to the priceless treasures these open spaces are for raising the quality of life in our cities. We definitely need parks and open spaces now more than we need any additional malls. Our government should give its citizens nothing less.


  1. Anonymous18.5.12

    i agree! we need more green spaces. tama na ang mga malls! we have too many of them already

  2. Anonymous18.5.12

    It just kills me when I see residential developments built with their "karatulas" announcing their permit to cut trees. It's frustrating to go visit other tropical countries and see their cities surrounded by flora and open spaces, and wonder why we can't seem to beautify our own cities the same way :(

  3. Ruth Anne Ferreria Ventura18.5.12

    Just visited Singapore and Vietnam, and I'm truly wondering why these politicians who see and admire the cleanliness, the greens and parks of these places, cannot seem to apply it to their own cities.

  4. Joanna Victoria Carina Venzon18.5.12

    we need some concept like in SG, tiger city with magnificent skyscraper, yet green is sprouting everywhere. According to the 1 Singaporean tour guide, the government mandates an annual tree planting of 20,000 seedlings. PH can pattern this...all the hope for future

  5. Anton Gonzalez18.5.12

    If you go to Europe particularly Scotland you will so numerous parks and playgrounds donated to the city for general public use. The likes of Duthie Park, Hazelhead, etc all beautiful and nice.

  6. Jerome Elevado Cruz18.5.12

    we need large open spaces especially as evacuation/staging areas for large scale disasters such as earthquakes

  7. Anton Gonzalez18.5.12

    With corruption and personal gain as the politician's agenda I'm afraid this will just be an idea. Plus of course the high price of real estate. Maybe in the future when new cities are developed consideration can be given to proper town planning and local officials can make sure government land remains for use as forests, parks and playgrounds.

  8. Frederick Peter C. Altavás18.5.12

    Congress should first formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations for that STUPID Lina Law to stop the proliferation of squatters on Government lands and other privately owned lands in the Philippines. Prohibiting the sale of government properties is not going to stop squatting. The government cannot afford to keep paying squatters to leave the land they're illegally occupying just because that law ostensibly protects the squatters' "RIGHTS" (!) without the IRRs, these squatters and the syndicates running their scams will continue to milk the govt dry. The DENR on the other hand, must inform the public re: its policies on issuing tree-cutting permits in the metro just so we know why they continue to allow such destruction. In the end, profit and revenue will determine the preservation and protection of the remaining greens in the Metro. not its value as the lungs of the metropolis. This will happen to Camps Aguinaldo and Crame when they are inevitably sold. The NCMH will go the same route. It will take years to recover the kind of greenery that exist there today. Even with judicious landscape design. What can be preserved, should be preserve. But in this country, that's like asking for the moon...

  9. Anonymous11.7.12

    I think people should campaign for more green spaces in Manila. I dont want to see another mall, its embarassing! When tourists come to our city its the first thing they comment on, where are all the green spaces, why are there so many malls???? There are 11 million of us here, if we start shouting now, someone has to hear our voice! No more concrete....more green spaces PLEASE!!!

  10. True, I agree. More malls please! Hoping Ayala, SM, & Robinson's, Resorts world malls would join forces and funds to give back to the people by building parks around their malls instead of parking lots.

    I was sad and angry about seeing a generic Sm in tagaytay sprouting up without even a care and consideration to design the mall to suit the location it's built on and about hearing that SM in baguio getting permission to ball hundreds of trees just to build a parking lot... if only business men can look past profits and see that in a few years all their hard earned money can't buy back what was lost. Only when they experience loss of profits or property damage due to landslides, climate change, poor air quality, etc. will this come back to haunt them, only by then it might be late to reverse the damage caused.


Related Posts with Thumbnails