FIRST LOOK: Manila's 1,600-hectare green space to start at City Hall park

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2019 07:17 AM

Every time diplomats, business leaders and beauty queens visit Manila Mayor Isko Moreno's office, they would be offered one thing: a good look at the shabby park overlooking the capital city's seat of power.

"That's 'tae-tae island' (poop island)," Moreno would consistently tell every guest as he rolls up his office blinds and point at the Kartilya ng Katipunan monument.

"I call it that because it used to be full of shit, literally," the mayor would say chuckling. "I even stepped on it."

But the open space that was supposed to be an ode to the heroic members of the Katipunan is not just a staple in Moreno's banter with dignitaries and other visitors. 

The once-neglected park has also become the mayor's pet project, and the starting point of his planned 1,600-hectares of green space in the city.

PET PROJECT

"How can I ask others to clean their areas when the city hall can't even clean its own yard?" Moreno said in several key addresses before businessmen, where he usually touts the park.

In less than a hundred days since he took oath as Manila mayor, Moreno ordered a makeover of the shoddy space.

Makeshift stalls that sold street food were dismantled. The road behind the monument was paved. At least 3,000 capiz lights were hung on trees.

A WiFi kiosk that also serves as a free telephone booth and charging station was installed at the park, which is now being marketed as a venue for the city government's free open-air concerts and movie screenings.

And the city government said the project has barely begun.

DANCING FOUNTAIN

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A multi-million-peso dancing fountain will be constructed in front of the monument.

"It will serve as an additional attraction," Manila City Engr. Armand Andres told ABS-CBN News.

Moreno earlier said PLDT-Smart CEO Manny V. Pangilinan has agreed to finance its construction. ABS-CBN News tried to confirm the details with the tycoon's communications team, but has yet to receive a response.

COFFEE SHOP

A coffee shop will be also be built in the area to provide refreshments for park goers, Andres said.

Beans will be sourced from local farmers, he said.

SECURITY OUTPOST

The park's existing security outpost will be upgraded to a gazebo-type structure with glass walls.

A study showed that security officials work more efficiently when the public can see what they are doing, the mayor said in one of his banters with a foreign dignitary.

PUBLIC TOILETS

A public toilet will also be constructed since this was a popular request of park goers, Moreno said.

"There are so many people passing by the park and we wanted to accommodate them and give them an outlet," he said.

The city engineer's office is still finalizing details and costs, and has yet to set a target date for the completion of the project, Andres said.

"Basta makakuha kami ng funds, maayos namin 'yung funding, start na kami," he said.

'NOTHING SPECTACULAR'

Despite upgrades, there is "nothing spectacular" about the project, Moreno said.

"Simpleng paggo-gobyerno ito, nothing spectacular," he said.

"We just need to create 1,600 hectares of green space in the next 3 years in the city of Manila."

The Environment Department said that was the green space needed to make Manila's environment healthy again, he said.

"We will make it a more livable city, a smart city," the mayor said.