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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Slater Young is an architect. This has been corrected.
MANILA, Philippines – In light of the public criticism received by Cebu’s newest The Rise at Monterrazas development, engineer and social media personality Slater Young promised to work with more environmental experts and advocates as they continue to develop the controversial project.
Through a Facebook Reel posted on Tuesday, September 5, Young acknowledged the “overwhelming” response to the project’s announcement video, which was posted on YouTube on August 24.
“I appreciate everyone who took the time to comment, narinig namin lahat ng mga concerns ninyo (we heard all of your concerns),” he said.
In the video, he guaranteed that the team behind the project will continue enlisting the help of “more expert groups and environmental advocates” to look over their plans.
He also claimed that “sustainability experts” were involved ever since the start of the project, and that it took the entire team about “300 revisions” to ensure that only the “best practices” were being employed.
“Our goal here is to listen,” Young said. To ensure transparency, he will also continue posting updates about the upscale condominium project.
In the announcement video, Young boasted about the structure’s “free-flowing” design, drawing inspiration from the Banawe Rice Terraces. Young also shared the different “environmentally conscious” features of the project: an irrigation system powered by rainwater, solar-powered amenity areas, and parking stations for electric cars.
As for the site itself, he confessed that trees and plants “won’t be mature yet” when the project is built, reassuring environment advocates that they are bound to improve within two to three years.
Two days later the Facebook reel was posted, the engineer gave a glimpse into a recent site visit with LLG Architects as well as soil expert and geotechnical engineer Allan Botuyan. In the Facebook post, Young also shared excerpts of the studies they conducted, as well as assessments made regarding the susceptibility of the land towards liquefaction and earthquakes.
Despite attempts at alleviating the environmental impact, The Rise at Monterrazas drew flak for its site, Monterrazas de Cebu. The site has acquired cease and desist orders from the local government of Cebu City in the past due to its potential hazards that may give way to disasters at the foot of the mountain. It is also situated near the residential area of Guadalupe, the most populated barangay in Cebu City.
Development on the site also resulted in gradual soil deterioration as a consequence of land bulldozing and cutting of trees. It has also witnessed multiple disasters, including a mudslide affecting around 10 families from Guadalupe in 2008, and heavy flooding which struck at least eight nearby sitios.
The project was greenlit and approved by Allan Arranguez, then-OIC of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas.
William Cuñado and Armando Malicse issued the project’s environmental impact assessment and review. Cuñado, former Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) director, and has had a history of issuing environmental compliance certificates to reclamation projects feared to cause heavy floods in southern Metro Manila.
Slater Young is a Cebu-based engineer and media personality who first rose to fame in 2012 for winning Pinoy Big Brother: Unlimited. His online content is mostly on YouTube, where he discusses home living, engineering, and family life with his wife and fellow blogger Kryz Uy. – with reports from Mika Geronimo/Rappler.com
Mika Geronimo is a Rappler intern.