If the concerns, if not furor, regarding what is happening at the Rizal Monument skyline and the Army and Navy Club are not enough to keep people concerned with Manila’s heritage feeling agitated, here comes the government, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in particular, with their plans that inadvertently would be another cause for worry.
A news report states that the DPWH plans to get rid of the Anda Circle, where the Anda monument has served as the area’s main landmark as a measure to ease up traffic along Bonifacio Drive and the Port Area. Traffic that has gotten worse in recent months thanks to the issue regarding the plying trucks in the area going to and coming from the Port Area.
To make matters worse, there is also this statement from the DPWH-NCR chief Reynaldo Tagudando who said, “”Wala siyang historical value,” (It does not have historical value) which has already caused some bloods to boil, especially among some people concerned about heritage.
Now to be fair, upon closer read he was actually referring to the circle and not the monument itself. While the DPWH intends to rid the circle, they are working on moving the monument to a new location. So that should calm down some blood pressures, right?
This now begs the question: would getting rid of the Anda Circle help alleviate the traffic woes in the area? It seems that the traffic managers of the metropolis seem to have an aversion to rotondas as a number of them which existed a hundred years ago have now disappeared completely. Case in point would be the one in Santa Mesa where the Carriedo Fountain used to be located. Even with the rotonda gone, and even if there was a flyover constructed there, there is still some heavy traffic in the area. (though it may be argued that it would have worse with the rotonda, who knows?)
But I suppose the greater concern that would be raised here is the loss of yet another green and beautiful space, small and unappreciated as it is right now. That aforementioned part of Santa Mesa lost that with the disappearance of the plaza and has become yet another uninspired and congest urban quagmire. With those plans, it seems it will be a certainty that this little part of old world charm between the port and the Walled City will suffer the same fate as well. And sadly, there’s not much we can do about it.
While we are on the subject of the Anda Circle, it would be a crime to not mention its famous landmark, the marble obelisk known as the Anda Monument. It was a monument made to honor Simon de Anda, the Spanish Governor-General from 1770 to 1776, fondly remembered as a leading figure in the resistance against the British forces which occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764 as part of the greater Seven Years War that pitted Britain and the alliance of France and Spain.
Unveiled in 1871 by then Governor General Carlos Maria de la Torre, interestingly, the monument was not originally located in the present circle but actually near Fort Santiago. It managed to survive World War II though it suffered from heavy damage. In the 1950s, in the course of the construction of the Del Pan Bridge which would connect the North and South Harbor of the city, it was decided to have the monument moved outside the walls, and the circle was made to accommodate the monument becoming a monument circle. This move was completed in 1957.
In recent years, the monument has suffered under the shadows of traffic and vandalism in the area. So it can be argued that the impending move would be for the monument’s benefit where it would relocated to a place where it would be the due respect it deserves, though that new location has yet to be finalized at this writing.
But unappreciated as it was, the monument in that circle helped give character and charm to this part of the city. It is a shame that this will be lost for some traffic solution which we do not even know if it was thought out very carefully and with a long-term thinking in mind.
Oh well. The least we can do is keep tabs with this development and see what happens. Here’s hoping all parties concerned are consulted and whatever DPWH is planning to do with the circle will be for the better and not for the worst.
This version is an edited version from the one that was first published in order to add some additional thoughts and make necessary edits.