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MANILA, Philippines - When Ivan Henares and I were invited to talk about our organization’s Save Manila Bay protest at an ANC show last February 5, the hope in me strengthened that we were reaching out to more people.
Manila Bay is all about the people. More than a baywalk, more than a breezy boulevard, Manila Bay is a place where people — regardless of economic class, religion, affiliation or background — can stroll and relax. You need not pay an entrance fee or dress in a particular attire.
Manila Bay is for anyone and everyone.
The question I had wanted host Lexi Schulze to ask was asked after the camera stopped rolling and the lights dimmed. She asked us, “What about the people?”
After the “Solar City” is built, the Manila Bay sunset that people visit the baywalk for will not be the same. Instead of an endless horizon with the sunset-bled sky beyond, you will see a large mass of land protruding perpendicularly from the bay.
The island will of course have buildings and establishments similar to other entertainment hubs. Though they will not block the entire sky, the quintessential Manila Bay view will be ruined.
Not giving up
My organization, Heritage Conservation Society Youth (HCS-Y) and our mothership, the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS), refuse to give up the bay without a proper fight.
We’ve involved environmentalists, students, Manila residents, heritage advocates, and other concerned sectors to talk about the issue and its possible impacts.
From World Wildlife Fund Philippines CEO Lory Tan, we learned that the planned reclamation can aggravate already uncontrollable flooding in Manila due to the “bowl” effect that the “Solar City” will create, making rainwater collect within Manila instead of draining out of Manila through the bay.
We talked to Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and found out that he opposes the “Solar City” because it will destroy “the broad, breezy boulevard that we Filipinos love so much.”
The bay is a place of pride for Filipinos that is a tourism destination in itself. With the many potential tourist destinations in Manila, Jimenez asks why we cannot just develop those instead of adding a new feature.
It is sad how even the country’s tourism secretary was not consulted about the creation of a new “tourist hub” at the expense of a more historically and culturally significant one.
My previous article elaborates on his stance and the negative environmental impacts assessed by Lory Tan.
The reclamation project is even more of an affront to the nation because it goes against national laws enacted to protect Manila Bay. Republic Act 7586 enshrines it as a national heritage park for the people. City Ordinance No. 7777 prohibits reclamation in the area but was tragically revoked to give way to this new development.
You can learn more about these laws and the other rights that the reclamation steps on in this article.
Save our sunset
My organization has launched an online campaign to call on netizens to oppose the reclamation. The brain-child of HCS’s Ivan Henares, the campaign is called “S.O.S. Save Manila Bay.”
“S.O.S.” stands for Save Our Sunset.
On our Facebook page, we regularly post updates about the issue and call on concerned citizens to share their memories and stories of Manila Bay.
All of us have been to the bay at least once, whether on a family outing, to relax with friends, walk our pets or go jogging. Somehow, Manila Bay has become a part of our lives.
It has definitely played a part in our country’s history. In its waters battled the ancient rajas of Manila. The Battle of Manila, in which American Asiatic Squadron led by Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet of Admiral Patricio Montojo, took place here.
As a youth heritage advocate, I feel envious of previous generations for having been able to see now-decayed heritage sites and buildings in their prime. My fellow youths rely on mere memories and second-hand accounts of these once glorious edifices.
I worry about my children and their children. Will the beauty of Manila Bay be a mere memory to them?
All our efforts to save the bay will culminate on February 12, 2013. Starting from 4pm, we invite everyone to join us in Synchronized Sunset-viewing at the Manila Baywalk. Come after school or work. Bring your friends, classmates, officemates, pets, family members, and loved ones.
Our simple event will involve all of us enjoying Manila Bay and the precious gift of its beautiful sunset. - Rappler.com
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