The first part of “Erap and Isko, Reviving Manila” pierced the veil created by environmental and heritage conservation pseudo-activists, revealing that those behind efforts to oppose Manila Bay reclamation are actually people and organizations who are merely out to protect their businesses from competition.
Property owners who lease out their land or buildings, for one, see the Manila Bay reclamation project as a threat to their business because it adds to the supply of land or space in a location that is near major centers of business and government as well as an international airport and a seaport.
If the Manila Solar City (around 148 hectares) or SM’s still to be named proposed reclamation project is built (around 300 hectares) are built, Manila property owners whose rates are buoyed by the scarcity of space may soon find their lessees vacating their spaces and transferring to the reclaimed areas.
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Another business that may be affected may be those engaged in tourism, these may be businesses as small as Carlos Celdran’s Walking Tours and as big as Sun Cruises which is a member of Magsaysay’s Transport & Logistics Group and is under the Magsaysay Group of Companies headed by Doris Magsaysay Ho — one of those visibly protesting reclamation on Manila Bay.
In the present plans of Manila Solar City, the development will include a docking facility for international leisure cruise ships and this may possibly open up Manila Bay to big players in the global multi-billion dollar leisure cruise industry. Right now, the Magsaysay group’s Sun Cruises has virtually monopolized Manila Bay and if big international leisure cruise companies gain entrance into its “turf”, Magsaysay’s Sun Cruises may find itself facing very tough competition — something monopolies are averse to confronting.
On the other hand, Celdran’s Walking Tours may actually benefit from the influx of international leisure cruise lines as this has the potential of bringing in even more foreign tourists — all of whom may be potential patrons. Given Celdran’s vocal support for economic liberalization and free market competition, the entrance of foreign players in the tourism industry should be something he should welcome.
While we’ve heard a lot about protests against reclamation, a lot of people haven’t really gotten enough information of what will be built and its benefits.
In a bid to inform myself of the proposed Manila Solar City reclamation project, I attended the two DENR Consultation hearings on the proposed project and in both consultation hearings, those opposing the project led by former Manila Mayor now Buhay Party List Representative Lito Atienza kept the proponents from presenting information about the reclamation project.
It would have been better if Atienza stuck fingers in both of his ears and shouted “lalalalala” at the top of his voice, but he didn’t and instead used up the panel’s time filibustering by raising a number of issues that were more about fear-mongering than scientific facts.
His actions during the two DENR hearings even bordered on the contemptuous in a number of instances as he insinuated that those in the DENR officials heading the panel had been bribed to side with the proponents.
It reminded me of how he used fear tactics and other appeals to emotion as well as grossly inaccurate scientific claims that he used when he went against the RH bill.
One of his more widely circulated tirades against the RH Bill was his “OPEN LETTER | Lito Atienza responds to Ateneo’s pro-RH Bill professors” and one part of it that got me was this:
Population control damages people’s thinking by permanently accepting the distorted notion that pregnancy is a problem to be avoided. Materialism has overtaken values in today’s world. The young are taught that they can engage in sex as long as they do not get pregnant. This is exactly the unwritten message, the signal if you will, of the RH bill you are supporting.
May your children and grandchildren be spared from this destructive thinking.
Although I also went against the RH Bill, I can see how Atienza’s letter might have convinced some Catolico Sarado folks I know to SUPPORT the RH Bill.
I would have argued that education and employment, more than the availability of contraception, would be more decisive factors in determining early or prolific pregnancy. I would have presented statistical proof from various sources that the Philippine’s population growth is actually below a widely used rate of replacement of 1.9 percent and in fact, the population growth rate has actually been decreasing since the sixties. I would have called out the huge probability of corruption in the form of ghost deliveries or the junking of supplies to justify re-stocking.
On the other hand, Atienza based his arguments against RH Bill on this:
God has given us abundant natural wealth and extra gifts in the field of arts and culture, and has blessed us with beauty, intelligence, industry and a natural empathy for people. These elements provide the economic emancipation that are wrongly presented as the automatic end-result of an RH bill.
Going back to Atienza’s arguments against reclamation, most of them are mainly based on a misunderstanding of scientific knowledge.
In one of the DENR hearings, Atienza warned people gathered at the Delpan Sports Center that reclamation would make Manila vulnerable to storm surges and cause flooding similar to what happened in Tacloban. Of course, the people gathered at the Delpan Sports Center were of the type who could be easily swayed by fear tactics for a number of reasons, but people who really care about looking into such alarmist claims would probably probe deeper and soon enough figure out that Atienza’s claims are pure bull.
It was good enough that actual scientists (geologists, hydrologists, and meteorologists) who were brought in as resource persons were on hand at the DENR hearing on the proposed reclamation project to answer Atienza’s preposterous claim.
If Atienza, together with a couple of other anti-reclamation folks, didn’t keep on interrupting the resource people perhaps people would have learned the geographical, hydrological, and meteorological facts that would make it improbable for a Tacloban-type of flood to happen in Manila.
Here are just a few points:
The bay in which Tacloban is located faces East towards the Pacific ocean where most storms and typhoons begin their genesis.
Generally, cyclones/typhoons move across the Philippine archipelago on a south east to north west track and this is easily verifiable through DOST’s website or any meteorological website. The figure below is from Wikipedia’s summary of the 2013 typhoon season and you can see the pattern of typhoon movements over the course of that year with most of them starting east of the Philippines then progressing north west.
With Tacloban’s bay facing the direction where typhoons come from and because of its shallow, funnel shape, ocean waters pushed by an oncoming typhoon tend to rise higher and further inland.
On the other hand, Manila Bay facing away from the direction where typhoons emanate and because of its deeper, open mouthed shaped, it isn’t as susceptible to the higher ocean water swells experienced in Tacloban.
Now, a couple of people protesting reclamation point to pictures of Roxas Boulevard and parts of Taft Avenue flooded, and say that this is a sign of things to come if parts of Manila Bay are reclaimed.
However, even a cursory glance at the 100 year flood map of Manila created by DOST Project Noah shows that the areas along Taft Avenue have for a LONG, LONG TIME experienced flooding — WAY, WAY BACK before Roxas Boulevard was build over reclaimed land.
See the picture below:
Here’s a closer picture of the area on Roxas Boulevard as shown on the 100 year flood map.
The fact that waves on Manila bay cause flooding on Roxas Boulevard may actually be just a contributing factor to the larger source of flood east of Roxas boulevard.
What the SM Mall of Asia is doing and Hotel Sofitel is said to have begun to do is to mitigate the flooding caused by waves by installing concrete wave deflectors. The seawall that was constructed DECADES ago may no longer be high enough to prevent high waves from coming inland and the DPWH, recognizing this fact, has reportedly planned out the installation of wave deflectors.
The thing with taking a politician’s word instead on relying purely on scientific analysis is that you’re more likely to be led by the nose and DECEIVED out of something that may, in all likelihood, actually be beneficial.
Why? Because, politics is largely based on deception.
(In my next post, more on scientific analysis that reveals Party List Representative Lito Atienza’s deception and scare tactics.)