Imagineering Metro Manila

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at May 07 2015 01:40 AM | Updated as of May 07 2015 09:40 AM

OK, laugh me out of the room. Crashing the ‘gates of hell,’ which Metro Manila has sadly descended into, is an investment banking opportunity!

By ‘crashing’ is meant the planned decongestion and the intelligent dispersal of irrelevant populations that decimate even further a healthful quality of life that has long vanished. It is the absolute, ultimate only solution to the malaise that is punishing everyone. Residents, transient locals and tourists. In the foreseeable future, the situation will only be more hellishly hopeless unless the dire is met by the draconian, soon.

The time has indeed come. The envisaged activities related to Manila’s deimperialization will require massive capital to be raised, both locally and internationally, which in turn will create new wealth, new real estate where there are none presently, spread out the social ills over a more manageably policed terrain, with new businesses ensuing, new jobs and employment created, new sources of taxation emerging--all form a massive, concerted stimulation of the economy. Not addressing and solving this utter threateningly irreversible debilitation is going to shut off Metro Manila behind the ‘gates of hell!’

What we are witnessing is a progeny of decades-long accumulation of neglect and the continuing refusal by the nation’s political leadership to address what sensible foresight would otherwise have demanded. Administrations that preceded the incumbent have obviously entertained a deviant set of priorities and as new political concerns emerge, the desired decongestion and dispersal overwhelms and entraps succeeding presidencies, pushing the existential concern towards the back burner. This trend must be stemmed, stopped and reversed.

Happily under the present dispensation, albeit attended by temporary public discomfort, new infrastructure are in fact being developed. Unfortunately, these will not be enough. The decongestion and dispersal of Metro Manila ought to be elevated into a political electoral issue and become a partisan platform, part and parcel of the voting public’s edification and maturation.

Rivers as Freeways

Having motor-ferried along the Pasig river and traversed Marikina river at many points in Pasig City as well as in Quezon City, and suffered the pestilential C-5 on many occasions during various hours of the day, I am ever more convinced of the necessity to finally utilize both the Pasig and Marikina rivers, its banks to be precise, to rescue and save Metro Manila.

Through much of its lengths, the river banks and its open space (with the added benefit of not requiring the expense and the hassles of rights-of-way acquisitions) must be harnessed as venues for new elevated highways supported by winding viaducts that hug the banks. Within the limited confines of the metropolis, there is absolutely no other space that will provide the long sought but never attempted solution to easing an ever worsening gridlock.

Please, imagine if you will, the Pasig and the Marikina rivers not only as waterways but elevated highways. Imagine what beneficial impact such infrastructure will evolve thus alleviating EDSA and C-5.

It has been done before. It has been done elsewhere. It is the same engineering technology used in the erection of bridge caissons, footings and pylons that support the spans crossing the rivers. The advent of elevated skyways is already upon us without an assurance of easing our roads' vehicular traffic load. So why not viaducts designed and constructed with seismic fidelity that will support the weight of motor vehicles and traverse the metropolis east to west (Pasig River) and parallel to C-5, south to north, following Marikina’s orientation?

Among this blog’s followers who may have access to the likes of Ayala, Aboitiz, Ang, Consunji, Pangilinan, Sy, Tan, Ty etc, and the reigning moguls of Philippine business, I implore you to please pass this on. This is a patriotic challenge that their profit-oriented existence cannot shirk. You may laugh me out of the room, after. But let us try. Also, among business writers and editors as I assume this will make sense to them. A bold, intrepid and imaginative proposition, I reckon, acquiring a modicum of traction, and a few adherents will be a good start. Sharing this through social media might just push for a desirable viralism. At first pianissimo at launch time, then fortissimo for popular support.

Might a minor clamor blossom into a moving attention as to become a public demand.

Dispersal of Military Camps

Utilizing Metro Manila’s principal rivers also as highways will only be a half measure. A total or at least a near total approach towards saving Metro Manila from self-suffocation has to include an indispensable, irreplaceable twin component. And that is the dispersal of all military encampments, along with is natural constituencies and social/commercial following to more pleasant wholesome vicinities as far away from the concrete and asphalt jungles of the nation’s capital region as possible.

The presence of military camps within the metropolis has become irrelevant. Even at the time when these camps and forts were first sited, organized and installed, there was reason to have them populate the city’s rural outskirts. They had their own community, separate from the rest of the civilian population. Unfortunately, by its very nature, population growth over time and inevitable urban sprawl have rendered the original locations congested, deteriorated, slummy and colonized by informal settlers that prominently include soldiers and their families.

The transfer of self-contained socio-economic units (people, payroll, services and consumer spending) will always be a welcome and beneficial enhancement to destination communities. Smart and forward-thinking local governments ought to be vying for the privilege and opportunity of hosting such occupancies. Our enlisted men and their families certainly deserve a more pleasant and wholesome environment within which to rear children. Today, these families are to be found either in slums or squatter colonies that surround the immediate neighborhoods of military camps. Is this how we regard and reward the nation’s defenders?

Much talk (and some suspected anomalies) has been circulating regarding military bases conversion (witness Bonifacio Global City, once known as Fort William McKinley and then Fort Bonifacio), but there has never been an announced program of relocation. The government has certainly thought of it, but no definitive decision has been announced, much less implemented. As the appalling circumstances of our metropolis stand, it appears that the greatest gift the Philippine military establishment can endow this country and specifically Metro Manila is to relocate to more pleasant surroundings and abandon the blight and filth in which their children wallow.

In fact, abandoning Metro Manila would qualify the Department of National Defense for a “Summum Bonum” award! Relocating the camps makes for social and economic sense benefiting the most number of people. The greatest good for the greatest number.

Bottled Weed Killer

As previously reported, from the levees and the retaining walls of the Pasig River’s northside jut out the open concrete drainage culverts, lining up so many meters apart from one another, that disgorge humanity’s filth into the river. These culverts cause the unhealthy stench that the Pasig is now famous for.

Just imagineering: might any of the relevant and responsible entities within the government have ever thought of capturing all that abhorrent ooze into a single sealed sewage main (avoiding spillage), all along the side of the river and directing all that flow towards a sewage treatment facility at one end? It seems not even out of the box but simple common sense. Logical.

The relevant technology exists. Wastewater capture and treatment is a viable business proposition. So can it be with the Pasig.

Failing that, why not bottling facilities. In such an instance, therefore, MMDA must endeavor, instead, to find an export market for Pasig water as industrial strength weed killer!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.