A Vision for Re-Developing Manila and Manila Bay

(Before my commentary, please watch the video announcement from the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation which is developing the Manila Solar City in partnership with the City Government of Manila.  It is a development project I am openly supporting as a Manilenyo chiefly and mainly because I believe it is the right direction to pursue in terms of Manila’s need to generate revenue and to re-develop a key feature of Manila that has been neglected for decades.  As pointed out by officials of the Manila City government, among them Mayor Erap Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, the city is currently in the red and facing the enormous challenge of paying off about P3.5 Billion in debt.  Moreover, they’ve also cited a great need to revitalize Manila which has been left behind by Makati, Taguig, Mandaluyong, and other component cities of Metro Manila.  The main reason why the Manila Solar City is a good answer to both needs at this point is that: One, Manila Solar City will generate billions of pesos in additional revenues. Two, as a development project, it comes at a substantially lower cost to the city government if it were compared to the other option, which is undertaking a re-development project funded by the city itself.  Three, and lastly, is that such a massive project will no doubt create hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as business opportunities both during construction and once it is completely built.  Will it pose additional risks or destroy Manila bay? You’ll find my answer in the commentary after the video.)

For decades and decades we’ve seen Manila Bay and Pasig River get worse and worse.  Despite the over-hyped efforts to “save Manila Bay” or “save Pasig River”, both bodies of water have all but died or are still wriggling in death throes.

gina-lopez-1So far, the much vaunted and hailed involvement of a number of multinational corporations in cleaning up both bodies of water have achieved worse than nothing — in the same sense that taking placebo may aggravate the condition of a  disease.  In this case, the placebo are a bunch of Corporate Social Responsibility Programs bandied around by multinational companies and their media partners that have so far been like firecracker explosions — nothing but smoke, heat, and light.

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In the middle of last month, the column of a good friend’s father crystallized an idea that had been nagging at the back of my head for quite some time.  Mr. Alvin Capino wrote:

Indeed her detractors might have a point in their challenge to Lopez that perhaps she should first address the environmental issues and concerns involving her and her family’s businesses before she disparages and condemns others on what she thinks are their sins against the environment.

For example, Lopez might wish to take time to respond to the report of the Commission on Audit that her much-publicized pet project to rehabilitate the Pasig River has been bungled and P17.7 million of taxpayers’ money has been lost.

The job of explaining falls on Lopez because she is the chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission which is the agency in charge of the rehabilitation of the Pasig River.

The COA 2012 report said PRCC wasted millions worth of recycling equipment because the commission decided to buy the equipment in advance before the facilities were ready. It turns out that it was able to build only one functioning materials recovery facility when it committed to build 10 in four years.

I have no idea at all whether this is corruption or just a stupid mistake with legal consequences and I have no interest in heaping more venom on a personality associated with a favorite target of the cyber-mosquito press.

As Carlos Celdran had said about whether or not he would continue lending his voice/social media clout to protests against Mali’s continued incarceration and reclamation in Manila bay, I believe there are already a lot of people voicing out the extreme revulsion they feel towards one media organization or another.

In following the GRP Credo which is “We Beg to Differ”, what interests me more is outing the idea that the model pursued by Administrations as far back as the Ramos Administration towards cleaning up Manila Bay and Pasig River could be as ass-backwards as it could get.

So far cleaning up Manila Bay and Pasig River has been pursued in the same way that people have pursued “save” brand of environmentalism which shamefully now includes “save tahong”.  It can’t be worse than if some nutjob printed out Christmas greeting cards like Unicef and came up with the claim that a portion of the money spent to buy the card would go to cleaning up Manila Bay or Pasig River.

What is wrong with that?  Well, it’s the idea that cleaning up the environment can be supported through dole-outs — no matter how fancy, sch-mancy the appeal is.

The better idea, really, is to make cleaning the environment a decent and profitable BUSINESS.  Revolutionary? Not really.  It’s just plain common sense and it’s the kind of idea that comes to people when they’re NOT participating in running events or buying greeting cards that will supposedly save something.

Clearly, this is the opposite of the patently leftist brained approach towards environmentalism.  Let’s just, for a moment, pit the idea of ‘cleaning the environment as a social good’ and ‘cleaning the environment as an economic activity’.

Hmmm… A pat on the back by the party leader who was last seen shaking his booty with Ara Mina, or money in my pocket for cleaning up? Decisions, decisions, decisions….

After accepting that ‘money for cleaning up’ is the way to go, the only other argument worth participating in is whether or not this will achieve substantially cleaner rivers, bays, and other bodies of water.  My bet is that it will.

(To Be Continued Tomorrow)

11 Replies to “A Vision for Re-Developing Manila and Manila Bay”

  1. I guess the problem is who will do the cleaning? If we entrust this task to government… well we know that government does not exactly have a stellar track record in providing efficient and cost effective service.

    Privatize the endeavor? Okay. Might work. But who gets the contract? Bidding might be rigged and the contract may end up in the business of a kamag-anak inc.

    1. To answer your question, ask me who gets the contract for recycling plastic, aluminum, tin, and other recyclables?

  2. The money that will go to the city’s coffers can be used to revitalize/rehabilitate/etc the districts of Manila.

    Can be a win-win situation.

  3. They keep spending money cleaning without getting rid of the cause. Halatang papogi lang. malagay lang pangalan ng pulitko sa banner.

  4. I have a feeling this will be like NAIA Terminal 3. It’ll be stalled in politics and controversy and will take much longer than necessary to build. By the time it’s built, the other ASEAN countries will already have something newer and better.

    This is, of course, just speculation. But the pattern of Filipino failure is undeniable. I find it hard to believe that the Filipino hallmarks of corruption, graft, and incompetence will be rendered null simply because the project looks really, really nice.

    I wish you all good luck. This may mark a turning point for the Philippines. But I get the feeling that Solar City will end up as a mess that only the proud PNoys could be proud of.

    1. How is the Goldcoast development like the NAIA 3 terminal? The client there is the national government. Solar is a private enterprise in the same way the Ayalas built the City of Makati.

      1. It’s the same because it’s still run by Filipinos. You know, the same kind of Filipinos who have seen an entire generation grow old as the entire country plummeted from being #2 in Asia. Different logistics. Same Filipino mentality.

        But whatever. This is, after all, just speculation on my part. I’d say we have grounds for a gentleman’s bet.

        If/when Solar City is built and is a grand success that meets all of its goals then I’ll gladly come back to visit, heap tons of praise for Filipino ingenuity, apologize for underestimating the Filipinos, and treat you and your family to a nice dinner.

        If it’s a mess or meets it goals only by way of clever numbers manipulation then I’ll not be visiting.

        1. Again — the same Filipinos that allowed the commercial development of BBC and the Ayala properties. The government does not manage those properties. BBC in particular is successful BECAUSE the Philippine government is no longer the owner. The key is to let PRIVATE ENTERPRISE make money, not government management.

  5. There’re politics involved in every aspect of life.

    The important thing here is that the project is placed under the supervision of an entity that has a vested interest — namely financial gain — to ensure that it IS successful. That will never happen if it is placed in the hands of a government agency. Apart from the lack of technical expertise, government officials seem to think that the timetable for the implementation of a major project like this is anywhere from six months to eternity.

    The same reasoning applies to the question about the cleanup. As a private enterprise, the profit motive should push Goldcoast to rehabilitate the areas around it. There is no choice; how would they attract businesses, or get people living in, say, BGC or Ayala Alabang, to move to the bay if the waters around the development are foetid?

  6. Oh please redevelop Manila and surrounding cities, make some new larger cities, it’s a bottle neck of insanity, nobody has any clue on how to develop the Philippines, just a bunch of stupid Chinese duck heads, ya ya ya ya, tiny brains that can’t think outside the box, they have the money but lack long-range planning, God why stop building shitty malls you guys all suck azz.

  7. its OBVIOUS that the country is incapable of cleaning up the PUTRID mess that is the Pasig River and Manila Bay. How long the festering sludge-hole shit mess is going to plague the noses of all who go near it is anyone’s guess.
    Wait…wait for it, almost…here …it…comes…

    Give the job to someone OUTSIDE of the corrupt-as-shit government of the country. In other words PAY a foreign entity to come in and save these two bodies of water….before the whole festering slimy shit mess over-flows(again) and drowns the entire city in its slimey-ness!PAY SOMEONE BESIDES A FILIPINO TO DO IT!

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