There is much to be excited about the Pasig River Urban Development.
On Wednesday, President Ferdinand ”Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and First Lady Louise ”Liza” Araneta-Marcos led the inauguration of the 500-meter showcase area, which will serve as a public park consisting of a pedestrian-friendly walkway on a concrete platform.
Just behind the Manila Central Post Office building, the showcase area is equipped with water fountain accented by lighting and sitting areas that can also serve as an open-air venue for events. It is highlighted by a transition bridge under the Jones Bridge that will connect two major water channels in Metro Manila — the Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay.
The Pasig River Urban Development Plan stems from the government’s vision of the Pasig River to play a significant role in economic development activities, tourism, and transportation connectivity — not unlike London’s River Thames, Paris’ Seine, or Bangkok’s Chao Phraya.
At the inauguration, Marcos said the transformation he would like to see in the Pasig River is ”not cosmetic in nature.”
”We do not want a river that is instantly made picturesque by coats of paint. We want a river whose transformation sinks to its very bottom,” Marcos said.
“This begins by cleaning up the river, and some solutions are found upstream because wastes disposed of far from the Pasig River end up in the Pasig River, funneled through waterways that have become sewers,” he added.
The 500-meter showcase area is part of a multi-agency urban renewal project spearheaded by the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development (IAC-PRUD), chaired by DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Azucar.
According to DSHUD, more recreational and wellness amenities like public parks, jogging and bike paths will be constructed in key areas along the 26-kilometer stretch of the river.
Making things even more promising? Landscape architect Paulo Alcanzaren, whose firm PGAA Creative Design made the famous 9km Iloilo Esplanade, has been brought in as a consultant.
Speaking to GMA News Online on Viber, Alcanzaren, shared it’s a collaboration with Architect William Ti of WTA Architects.
“Our two firms are being tapped for the overall master planning of the Pasig River Urban Development Plan,” he wrote on Viber.
Alcanzaren, narrates the showcase area, designed by in-house architects and engineers of the government, was already midstream when they were brought in.
“This pilot project was our tuition for the whole project, with a lot of lessons learned in how we can apply solutions to the other sections of the river,” Alcanzaren, continued.
The urban development plan is in response to Executive Order 35’s call to improve the quality of life along the banks of the Pasig River and its surrounding communities.
Some 10,000 informal settler families affected by the project will be relocated into two major housing projects in BASECO and the mouth of the river at Laguna de Bay, under the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program.
The Pasig River has long been a subject of rehabilitation programs by the government.
Last year, Marcos formed the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development as part of the government’s response to the urgent need to rehabilitate and enhance the quality of life along the Pasig River.
When asked if Metro Manila can expect something similar as the Iloilo Esplanade, Alcazaren admitted it will be more complicated “as it passes through five LGU jurisdictions compared to only one in Iloilo.”
But things are off to a great start. Architects Ti and Alcanzaren, are now putting together a team comprised of other speciality firms in transport planning, urban utilities, hydrology, and the like. “It take a multi-diciplinary team,” he said.
Alcanzaren, a popular landscape architect whose work includes building Singaporean parks, is a vocal advocate of heritage conservation, public parks, and open space.
— With reports from Jade Veronique Yap/LA, GMA Integrated News