Manila Bay, Boracay rehab: Reviving our waters

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PEOPLE can attribute the clutter and societal mess in the Manila Bay to abstract culprits, like heavy industrialization, unmanageable population growth, and the perpetual suspect, that, is the government.

But the country’s problem with poor sewerage system is only an effect of a bigger problem. The dismal amount of proper urban planning, or the lack thereof, inevitably results in the overall degradation of the environment of Manila; hence, the deterioration of water quality within the bay and its other waterways.

Several industries operate along the bay in the highly urbanized Metro Manila area. There are shipyard facilities in Cavite and in Bataan. Several heavier industries, refineries and a power plant are also there. At the ports, an average of 30,000 ships arrive and depart annually to transport passengers, manufactured goods and raw materials. All over are industrial discharges and untreated domestic wastes from drainage and sewer outlets.

After the success of the rehabilitation of Boracay, which President Duterte described as a “cess pool,” we must give credit to where it is due. It is hoped that the government’s efforts to rehabilitate the bay will also reach its full realization and not fall into the old Filipino habit of ningas kugon.

This rehabilitation is not an effort only of the government but must include most importantly the private sector, for it was generations of Filipinos who have allowed this to happen to the world famous Manila Bay and other bodies of water in the country.

Closing establishments, which pollute the bay, should be carried out. These companies adjacent to the rivers and the bay should be held liable. This should let them think twice before they start throwing trash again.

As an architecture student and foremost, a Filipino, I strongly support the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay and of other bodies of water not only in the capital city but in the whole country as well. The responsibility of taking care of the environment should always be the priority of everyone.

The second priority is the architecture of the place, then man as last priority. It is most often than not that the order is the other way around. We must serve the environment. When that is settled, numerous opportunities for waterfront development would arise and we can all reap benefits in the long run.

Moreover, it could be an inspiration to everyone in the Philippines to finally appreciate our country and to keep it clean. Filipinos may soon realize that the cleanliness of a place changes the way we experience spaces. We can’t always blame the government for everything as we ourselves are the culprits of destroying the environment. We must start with ourselves.

Once the cleanup is done, a new master plan for the area should be implemented. Stricter environmental regulations must also be implemented on the Pasig River and other connected waterways that connect to the bay. Because of the area being a tourist spot, we should begin designing urban waterfront developments that can enhance people’s quality of life in all aspects.

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