Quantcast
Latest Stories

Heritage vs progress –how should Manila choose?

By

The city of Manila, with its rich cultural history, is struggling to strike a balance between modern development and heritage conservation, aggravated by the urban problems of traffic, waste disposal and informal settlers.

In the last five years, Mayor Alfredo Lim claims the city skyline has started changing owing to his bid to modernize the Philippine capital. High-rise developments have sprouted, which could, in fact, threaten Manila’s cultural identity.

“We are criticized for being left behind by other cities, but if we allow the construction of modern buildings, we will still be criticized. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t,” Lim said.

Unique personality

Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Lim’s executive assistant and vice chair of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission, has said that, with the mayor’s mantra of the law applying to all, heritage buildings in the city will be protected from demolition as stipulated in the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

“It is difficult to balance the commercial needs of development and the preservation needs of a city that wants to preserve its special and unique personality,” Araneta said.

“Another difficulty is, most of the developers are in the private sector, who probably think, ‘Well, I own this property, I can do with it whatever I wish.’ But then, there’s a law,” she said.

Recently, an online petition urged the new owner of the Philam Theater on UN Avenue to preserve the performance hall.

Araneta said she had talked with Annie Garcia, president of SM supermalls, and suggested that the façade and the theater be preserved, which is what the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has also recommended.

The GSIS Building, which is being renovated into a Hall of Justice by the Supreme Court, was saved from demolition when heritage conservationists intervened and made an appeal.

Same with the Meralco Building. “It’s still there but the owners won’t talk to us,” Araneta said.

High-rises

In a separate interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Lim recounted how a group of realtors visited his office right after he won the 2007 mayoral election.

“I asked them why they didn’t have any projects in the city of Manila. They said they would lose money because of an ordinance limiting the height of buildings to 19 stories,” he said.

Noting the high-rise development in the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong and Pasig, Lim gave them the go-signal for an all-out development by setting aside the ordinance and following the national building code instead.

“Since then, many have built 30- to 40-story high-rise condominiums. As of now, there is a 57-story building being put up in Ongpin, which would be the tallest in Manila. There is another 53-story project behind Admiral Hotel on Roxas Boulevard,” Lim said.

Last November, a Swiss group also inaugurated a 50-story condominium in Ermita and told Lim that six more condos will be built in Ermita and Malate areas.

“Slowly, we are now changing the skyline of the city of Manila,” Lim said.

Revenue share

But the mayor washed his hands off the reclamation project that would be undertaken by private developer Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. through a consortium agreement with the city government.

Lim said the Philippine Reclamation Authority approved the project and the city was only included in the contract for its revenue share.

“It’s wrong to say that there will be a reclamation along Roxas Boulevard between the US embassy and the Manila Yacht Club,” Lim said, explaining that the 148-hectare Goldcoast “Solar City” will be reclaimed from Manila Yacht Club to the Philippine Navy grounds, perpendicular to Roxas Boulevard.

The PRA’s National Reclamation Plan, however, shows that 26,000 ha of Manila Bay from Cavite to Bataan will be available for reclamation.

“As long as I’m the mayor, there will be no reclamation there,” Lim said.

Incidentally, the city council passed an ordinance in May 2011 that lifted the ban on reclaiming Manila Bay and allowed the mayor to take steps to reclaim certain portions to give way to the Goldcoast project.

As he seeks a third consecutive term, Lim is proposing to make Manila the premier business district again with the Manila Financial Center under the South Harbor Expanded Port Zone project.

Government property

A Korean consortium has proposed to build the financial center with a $4-billion investment in exchange with a 50-year lease and 70-percent share of the revenue.

The financial center, which will not involve reclamation as it will utilize Port Area, will create 150,000 jobs and attract around 2 million tourists annually, Lim said. There will be malls, residential buildings, parks and docks for cruise ships.

Critics are quick to point out that he has been mayor three times; why is he only proposing this now? Lim explained that he had pitched the project to former Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos since it involved national government property, but talks did not push through.

The project is now being evaluated by the private-public partnership program committee and needs to be endorsed by the Cabinet economic cluster before President Aquino approves it.

“What I want for Manila is to be attuned with modern times and be called a modern city. Manila is the capital, it cannot remain forever as it is,” Lim said.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: conservation , Lifestyle , News , urban problems



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Sports

  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
    Marketplace