MANILA — From white sand to palm trees, the Manila baywalk is getting a complete beach do.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Saturday it has started planting mature coconut palm trees at the baywalk on Roxas Boulevard— another phase in the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay at the capital.
This follows its controversial P389-million project dumping crushed dolomite on part of the bay's shore to create an artificial beach, which government said was part of efforts to beautify the bay and help improve Filipinos' mental health during the pandemic.
It has been criticized for being wasteful, as hundreds of millions were spent on the project in the middle of a crippling health crisis.
The agency had a ceremonial planting on Wednesday, where 10 palms were planted.
"This area has been planted with coconuts before. Subalit sa ginawang assessment ng ating field office, marami na ang mga naputol o namatay sa paglipas ng panahon," said Cimatu, noting old pictures showing coconut palms lining Roxas Boulevard.
(But in the assessment of our field offices, many were already cut or died with the passing of time.)
"So we will undertake coconut planting today as part of our restoration and continuing rehabilitation of Manila Bay," he added.
Cimatu, whose agency also recently added boulders to the so-called dolomite beach, said the trees would "add to the aesthetic value of the area because they will give an otherwise plain landscape a distinctly tropical aura, the way this area was years ago."
"It will not only beautify the baywalk portion of the Manila Bay coastline. It will also serve as a living reminder of how much the coconut tree has contributed to our way of life," he added.
The DENR will work with Manila's Parks Development Office in maintaining the trees, he said.
Government has been initiating projects to rehabilitate the Manila Bay, where the waters had been notoriously dirty and the shore littered with trash.