Manila Bay rehabilitation

Manila Bay white sand project breaks the internet again— this time with memes

Iya Gozum
Manila Bay white sand project breaks the internet again— this time with memes

People crowd the opening of the portion of Manila bay near US Embassy along Roxas boulevard in Manila which is covered by artificial white sand from crushed dolomite on September 19, 2020, as various government agencies led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources spearheaded the event to mark the International Coastal Cleanup Day.

Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

What’s left to do when clamor and criticisms go unheeded? Make memes.

Netizens poked fun at the controversial ‘white sand’ project in Manila Bay, which opened on Saturday, September 19, by posting memes with the hashtag #ManilaBayChallenge.

Throngs of people visited Roxas Boulevard during the weekend, taking photos and waiting their turn to experience Manila Bay’s newest ‘tourist spot,’ while failing to observe proper physical distancing measures.

Many found it alarming that people were nonchalant about the thick crowds, when the country has yet to flatten COVID-19 curve.

Some people found the challenge as the perfect excuse to post throwback photos on the beach. Renalyn Macato took it a step further by actually wearing a swimsuit in the site, gaining thousands of likes as of posting.

Ermita police chief Ariel Caramoan was sacked after the white sand opening, as safety and health protocols were clearly violated. 

Celebrities and online personalities also joined the meme challenge, while some took it on their own to include famous politicians in the roll.

The white sand project cost P389 million, and drew criticism from environmental groups, as well as marine science and geohazards experts.

Advocates are eyeing to file writ of kalikasan due to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ non-compliance of environmental regulations. – 

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum is a member of Rappler's digital communications team. When off the grid, she’s either a hundred/thousand meters above sea level – or dreaming about it. You may email her at