I was fortunate enough to have grandparents who took me for long walks by the bay when I was a child. My grandmother would always tell me, “sea air is good for your asthma. You and your lolo [grandfather] must walk along the bay in CCP [Cultural Center of the Philippines] because both of you have asthma.” When we’d reach the place, my grandfather would take out two chairs, the picnic blanket and basket, and my bike. I’d bike along the coast watching the birds dive into the water hoping the get a fish or two for breakfast. My grandfather and grandmother would always shoo me away and tell me to go back and play, every time I’d run to them. I didn’t mind, because everything else fascinated me. While the sea air did help me breathe, it also made me smell “like a fisherman” as my grandma would say, wrinkling her nose as she’d wipe the sweat off my face.
The trip would always end with a lunch in Aristocrat, a famous restaurant by the bay. My grandfather would always buy my grandmother’s favorite dish. They’d linger and talk while I’d be given a pen and paper to draw stuff. How was I to know that they were having a “date” too?
I had those memories. My son’s story would be different and so will my grandchild. What stories will we tell when the area would be filled with buildings and more traffic? How can we value the place when the reclamation project will block floodways, causing Manila to sink deeper in flood waters during typhoon season?
Why did I join the protest? Because I want to be able to walk along the coastline with my grandchild. I don’t want that to disappear and be covered by buildings. Manila’s progress can be done by concentrating on educating their poor, sheltering the homeless and empowering them with skills so that they can stand on their own and not depend on dole outs from the government and alms.
What really happened?
“In 1992, a group called “Manila Goldcoast Development Corp.” lobbied for approval to reclaim the entire Manila Bay waterfront along Roxas Boulevard, between the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the US Embassy. This scheme was challenged by citizens, who fought to preserve the last remaining access to the bay along Manila’s historical district. The citizens won. The Manila City Council passed City Ordinance No. 7777, prohibiting reclamation in this area.
However, Goldcoast was, tragically, able to get City Ordinance No. 7777 repealed. In February 2011, City Ordinance No. 8233 reversed the prohibition. A consortium agreement was signed in April 2012 to reclaim the same waterfront along Roxas Boulevard, about 288 hectares of land, even swallowing up the Manila Yacht Club and the Philippine Navy Headquarters.
In addition to blocking the view of the sunset from Malate and Ermita, the reclamation will worsen floods, extinguish the tourism area along Roxas Boulevard, destroy the potential of our historic Intramuros, remove 20 vital anchorage berths for ships and most of all, take away from us a waterfront we all love.”
So last February 12, concerned citizens, students and organizations gathered at the Rajah Sulaiman park in front of the bay. Armed with cameras and paint, they formed a two kilometer chain along the bay. A quiet statement of what we stand to lose should this development push through.
and their teachers came to support the protest.
See where the sea meets the horizon? This scene is what we stand to lose once the reclamation project is completed.
I moved to a higher place in order to get a bird-eye view of the crowd. The people moved to the edge of the baywalk to form a human chain.
This is the part where phase 1 of the reclamation area will cover.
As the sun started to set, people faced the horizon and held hands.