Is this necessary? Netizens raise concerns over white sand on Manila Bay

Netizens raised eyebrows after photos of workers preparing white sand for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay circulated on social media.

The Manila Bay rehabilitation, led by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, kicked off on January 27, 2019. The plan has three phases: cleanup and water quality improvement, rehabilitation and resettlement, and education and sustainment.

The Department of Environment and National Resource (DENR) rehabilitation plan does not include any phrase about restoring or improving the sand along Manila Bay.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the synthetic white sand, made from crushed dolomite boulders, was imported from Cebu before it was sent to Manila.

I-ooverlay [ang sand] doon sa beach area para makita ng tao ng itong white sand, magsisignify ng kalinisan. This will serve as a campaign for the people to tell them that it’s about time for us na pangalagaan natin ang kapaligiran,” Antiporda said.

(The sand will overlay the beach area so people will see that the white sand signifies cleanliness. This will serve as a campaign for the people to tell them it’s about time for us to take care of our surroundings.)

“Konektado itong pandemic na ito sa ating pagiging pabaya sa ating kalikasan at sa ating kapaligiran,” he added.

(The pandemic is connected to our complacency when it comes to our environment and our surroundings.)

A number of Filipinos felt patching the beach with white sand was nothing more than a cosmetic, band-aid solution. They pointed out that the sand can easily be dirtied or swept away by typhoons or unclean water.

Others also felt the approach was unsustainable, and would only be a waste of money and natural resources.

Netizens also questioned the need for the initiative in the middle of a pandemic and believed the money could have been spent on more urgent projects and issues.

Several environmental groups also criticized the government’s latest attempt to improve Manila Bay’s appearance by dumping white sand along the baywalk. 

According to advocacy group Oceana Philippines, the project may harm the natural ecosystem and costal integrity of Manila Bay, as the white sand “does not appear to be a natural substrate of that portion of the bay.”

Here’s what other Filipinos had to say about this:

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments. –

Gaby Baizas

Gaby Baizas is a digital communications specialist at Rappler. Journalism is her first love, social media is her second—here, she gets to dabble in both. She hopes people learn to read past headlines the same way she hopes punk never dies.