08/20/13

Metropolitan Manila: a dream unfulfilled (an Urban Roamer editorial)

As I am writing this entry, heavy rainfall for the past 2-3 days thanks to Typhoon Maring (international name: Trami) has submerged much of Metro Manila under floods…again. While in a way, this highlights how serious climate change has affected the global climate, especially here in the Philippines, there is also another issue that lingers in the horizon that few seem to take note of:

Manila is a badly planned metropolis.

What’s heartbreaking is that this has been foreseen decades bacl, even more than a century ago when Daniel Burnham first laid out his plan for the city. Over the years, we have seen competent planners like Harry Frost, Juan Arellano, Felipe Mendoza, among others who strived to make this metropolis a livable city that has the necessary aesthetics and room for growth. Continue reading

08/4/13

The Metropolis and its Capital Dreams (Part III)

After the end of World War II in 1945, Manila was in a state of total devastation. With most of the city’s infrastructure in near-complete ruin, the first task at hand for a recovering nation was to start anew, in the midst of meager resources the government faced at that time. Thus, the dream of a national capital had to be put on a wayside.

the Legislative Building after the war (from John Tewell’s Flickr)

Also as a result of Manila’s destruction, those who were fortunate to survive were too traumatized to continue living in the city premises. Thus the trend was for many families to move away to the suburbs, trying to escape the nightmares of war that still haunt the city that was trying to get back on its feet. Thus, the wide open spaces of Quezon City became a viable option as a place of residence for them, where they can start anew in a postwar environment. Continue reading

07/28/13

The Metropolis and its Capital Dreams: Part II

With the growth of Manila by the 1930s, as well as the congestion that came along with it, Manuel Quezon made it a priority upon his assumption of office as Philippine president of the self-governing Commonwealth government to establish a new capital city for a soon-to-be-independent state. There were a number of considerations that were factored in for a new capital like the available space for expansion and how the area can be not difficult to defend. (the previously Capitol area near Rizal Park was susceptible to attacks from possible naval attacks at Manila Bay)

Pres, Manuel Quezon

While there were other locations considered like Baguio (which was the country’s summer capital) and Tagaytay. It was decided that the new national capital will be built right outside Manila, eventually buying what was then a large tract of land owned by the landed Tuason family called the Diliman Estate. The foundations of the future capital city were first laid in 1938 when a portion of the estate was allotted for housing of government workers and others in the labor force known as “Barrio Obrero” (Workers Village) in what is now present-day Kamuning. In addition, additional land was purchased to form the nucleus of the defense center of the new capital. The land would become the site of Camp Murphy, which was eventually divided into what are now Camps Crame (headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary, now the Philippine National Police) and Aguinaldo. (headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) Continue reading

07/21/13

The Metropolis and its Capital Dreams: Part I

Recently, there has been a proposal put forth by Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes to move the capital of the Philippines to a new location, away from the congested, urban planning-challenged, traffic-infested, flood and earthquake-prone Metropolitan Manila. While this Urban Roamer has his doubts as to whether this proposal will push through, (as with many examples, but I digress) it must be noted that this latest proposal is just part of a long and tangled history we have with regards to planning a national capital. Thus, let this entry tell you the saga of a national capital, a story filled with hopes and plans that have been unrealized and gone awry. Continue reading