After Manila was declared the second most devastated city in the world after the Second World War, there was none, not even one coherrent system enacted to built it up to its former glory. Historians, correct me if I am wrong, but in the matter by which every building sprouted like mushrooms, and how to this day Manila has been left to neglect with no real identifying picture except it's traffic --- I do understand it could have been any plan at all --- for if there was a plan then I have to say, me - the next-door usual personwith no engineering background but discovery channel shows --- it sucks. Perhaps there was one, but it's not coherrent enough?
It is no wonder thus, that a Nick Joaquin in each of us longs for a Manila long gone, or most old folks complain about our air, and the congestion, and the lack of proportion and balance, and lack of parks, among others...Perhaps even as there was an effort to rebuild --- it was all to rebuild only for the sake of utilization, and restoring the services.
beauty should be dulce et utile, and whenever an overpass or a flyover (a highway) is built with the idea that its sole purpose is to make people cross it ALONE, then I say we are a doomed culture if that's how we create thingsYou see, beauty should be dulce et utile, and whenever an overpass or a flyover (a highway) is built with the idea that its sole purpose is to make people cross it, then I say we are a doomed culture if that's how we create things: Pupuwede na yan, we say, same mediocrity of as long as it works, it's enough. Notice the following problems (oh how I love to enumerate):
- Lack of proportion and balance in the width of the streets and boulevards and height of the buildings on it's sides. See, there is a ratio that this should match so that air can flow and enough sunlight can spread into the roadside and sidewalks --- build too narrow a road with too high buildings and you get a congested road with real humid air --- breeds problems: Best example: LRT in Taft and the adjacent buildings on both sides: ugly. The darker the alleys get, the moldier it becomes, the less air moving in and out, the dirtier it gets, and the lower the value of property, the more need for energy to light it at night. I am from Ateneo, so I don't naturally like La Salle's surrondings, but thinking of these things if I was from La Salle, I would hate it still... see the Art deco will not be clearly visible from the otherside. Less panoramic views, less tourists who wants to take a picture. Solution: Subway, clear it all --- give back taft the good sunlight. (Ok dream on)
- Too many electric posts - Meralco posts are everywhere. Whatever good lines and views there are would be abruptly cut by the geometric abstraction of Jackson Pollock electric lines and old transformers --- all attached to posts that have a multitude of signs nailed into it. See, the mind is a powerful thing, but it can only process so much information. Add more colors and shapes and an abstract masterpiece becomes a p(f)uking disaster (Play on sounds intended) Solution: take them all down.
- Parks are not where they should be, in fact there are not enough parks anymore nor enough bridges - Historically, the Spanish Era pueblo's design is easy enough - a plaza, a monument and a park in the middle, the municipio, church, school, and everything else around it. Manila was fine way back then --- When developers built farther and farther away from the city center, we had disaster brewing, traffic even had its roots here: jobs in the middle of the city, and everyone else lives in the outskirts --- hence the rush hour traffic. The feeling I get is before New York's central park was made ... that's where the Philippines is now. Immediately after a construction boom --- you have these urbanization problems. Solution --- ok I'l dream on again: a project similar Boston's Big Dig - let's call it Oplan: Bagumbayan: all highways build them underneath existing roads, and convert all roads as parks --- sewers, which are never a part of our vocabulary should be included in the design, quite possibly, a dike or pumping system may need to be implemented to avoid flooding. Hey, sorry pero libreng mangarap, ok? This way all current roads as we know it now become parks - you get trees everywhere, and the dragonflies of Bagumbayan will come back to Manila!
After Manila was declared the second most devastated city in the world
after World War II,
there was none, not even one coherrent system enacted to built it up to its former glory.
Historians, correct me if I am wrong... Perhaps there was ONE --- but not coherrent ENOUGH
Residential and Commercial Zones in the suburbs are pretty much sandwiched one after the other, and once in a while an industrial zone pops up in the middle of both --- nothing really coherrent. If you play Simcity you know this would be disaster - fire hazards, traffic, pollution, problems with crime, value of land, health problems to residents, waste disposal problems, etc.... Solution: Proper Zoning. All those opposed (oh there will be man) send them to Tawi-Tawi.
One good thing any memorable city should have would be character. Paris has it's romantic side, New York has it's urban flair, New Orleans, Miami, Shanghai, Rio, Tokyo all of these are easy to spot --- Manila, well, has it's traffic. Manila doesn't have a positive character that is coherrent with it's history. If you want tourism Manila should be easy to spot --- in fact Metro Manila should be a megalopolis of a singular design. There must be an easily identifiable feel to it. I suggest implement a hard and fast architectural ordinance that all buildings would have to be remodelled under these strict designs regulations. If an area must be art deco then all buildings should be strictly this height and conforming to this design --- any deviations should be minimal. Now if it has to be modern but should stick to the pre-spanish capiz style of houses --- or one like Malacañang ... see my fellow FIlipinos, if all of Manila's buildings are each trying to go back in history but are reaching forward in modernity history will not be as painful. Our heritage will be a treasure --- not a guilt-tripping saga that we all must escape and deny. The halo-halo culture is fine - but like any good halo-halo the ingredients should complement each other --- we can't just build build build... there must be a unique taste to it, not one that gives a hint of this and this and that else that is called a hodgepodge of pretentions of who we really are as a people.
- Uniformity - All overpasses should look the same, and each style should conform to its surrounding buildings. My architect friends please... help me out. In fact all traffic rules should be the same anywhere you go. All (yes) waiting sheds should be the same design --- and please give us back our history --- not pink please? Make it brick or something sepia, the Ifugao earth Tones, the abaca fiber, the yellow of the Banig or the Buri Hat, or the color of Manila Envelope --- after all we're known for that! See all these are unique tones that are very Filipino --- not pink, not ocre or vermillion. We are not European or Americans, let's not try hard to be one. See, I understand there are reasons for yellow and black since that's the highway and statistically they work globally --- so we keep the signs as is.... how about the others though, I'm sure if we only speak of our history through our roads and alley MM will be a really cool place for artists to hang-out in. Invite all of the world artists to live here for free. Make this an artist - a fiesta haven, you know, things from our culture --- this place will be smashing.
- What ever happened to the proposed Trans-Manila Bay suspension bridge? - That will supposedly divert all northbound and southbound traffic that passes through Manila - thus decongesting Manila. I'm sure the view would be really great there. It was proposed during the time of Erap --- and in fact the only thing I wanted him to do --- somehow people have forgotten about it.
- Make our Capital City a University city --- in fact this may sound controversial, but if there is budget enough --- consolidate all state colleges to be part of the University of the Philippines. That way even the smallest college will require cross-enrollment and we can celebrate in our diversity. Once a University culture is created and encouraged in Manila I'm sure all the creative minds will start working. See, the environment has the most direct effect on people's minds --- be it crime or creativity. If we can make Metro Manila a haven for free thinkers, artists, history and all the bright minds of the world (remember my dream of Filipinos as a country of multilinguals and translators --- and yes I am dreaming --- then I'm sure everyone will be proud to be a Filipino. Doing it this way will encourage a cultural revolution.
- Solution to all of the above: solve our budget deficit first. (Reality Bites!)
- Keep Dreaming --- but do not fall asleep.
Urban Planning in the Philippines would have been most wonderful if Burnham didn't die or Leandro Locsin for that matter - even when the latter admitted to the mistake he made in Roxas Boulevard --- re: CCP complex facing inwards instead of outward... Imagine how different Roxas Blvd is from the other streets of Metro Manila. See how much different Quezon Circle is and UP from the other parts of Manila. Answer: because in those limited parts, things were planned and every bit of building that rose was planned. If we can only do that, we'll all be very proud of our city, and our heritage.
In a way we are products of this city as this city is a product of what we are. Isn't it about time to make this connection less dysfunctional than ever?
posted by Jdavies @ 8/28/2004,
- At 7/08/2005 02:59:00 PM, said...
- At 8/23/2005 01:46:00 AM, said...
I was googling urban planning in the Philippines and came across your blog entry. I know its a year late, but I hope you'll still entertain a comment.
I appreciate your urban design proposals for the metropolis. I do believe that apart from urban design considerations, the our city sufffers from more core problems in urban dynamics. (i.e. - housing and jobs balances, spatial distribution, urban road grid systems, public transportation issues) - all of which subvert whatever urban design approaches we may want to implement.
Of course, it is an chicken-and-egg question: does a pretty city make a working city or does a working city make a pretty city?
I think you also point to a need for a sense of place -an identity for the metropolis - which is, i agree, sadly lacking but I don't think uniformity would be the best approach. The most interesting cities are cities with layer upon layer of civilizations and styles and culture. (Re: Hausmann's Paris imposed on the city of the Kings, or Shanghai's Bund across from the Pudong).
Lastly, I can't quite understand your comment on Burnham admitting "to the mistake he made in Roxas Boulevard" -i.e CCP facing inwards instead of outwards - Burnham died in 1912 -way before the CCP or the reclamation area was even contemplated. (His 1901 plan for the Manila was only partially implemented as the Commonwealth government decided to spend the money they had saved for the plan on rural irrigation instead.) Perhaps you are referring to (national artist) Leandro V. Locsin?
Either way, it is good to have a conversation about the state of our metropolis and the scenarios for it's future.
Posted by urbanodelacruz
- At 8/23/2005 03:00:00 PM, said...
Thank you for the kind comments Mr. de la Cruz. Your comment is most welcome despite being a year late. I sincerely believe a more scientific approach to city building is needed in this country and inputs from the likes of you are a welcome sight in a sea of apathetic citizens and contented metro manila residents. I urge people to fight for what is due them: a beautiful city that is devoid of any dysfunction.
Thank you for noting the mistake I made in quoting Burnham; you are indeed right that it is the late great Leandro Locsin that made those comments. The posts were edited thus from hence.
Posted by jdavies
- At 8/23/2005 06:52:00 PM, said...
- At 8/23/2005 08:26:00 PM, said...
Consider it done.
Posted by jdavies
Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.
About This Blog
This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.
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