I’ve always wanted to write about that 2-kilometer stretch of open space by the seaside of Manila Bay that we all know as the Baywalk. For someone who grew up spending some of my free days along the Manila Bay, I have been witness to the changes the area has seen over the past years and beautiful sunsets that made it a popular attraction and a source of pride as well.
How can one forget the Baywalk during the administration of then Manila Mayor Lito “floral shirt guy” Atienza (1998-2007)? In his efforts to revitalize Manila tourism, he spearheaded the redevelopment of the once-dark Manila Bay side into the Baywalk that we know with brick-tiled floors, beautified promenades, spruced with retail shops and restaurants lined up along the Baywalk illuminated at night with those funky, multi-colored lamps that have been a subject of curiosity and criticism as well. Baywalk soon became a favored nightspot in an area as tourism and business boomed.
But if you are a public official who made a certain project and the one who will succeed you in your job is not an ally, then you can kiss your project goodbye. That was what happened to Baywalk by 2007 when Atienza’s successor Alfredo “dirty Harry local version” Lim decided to clean up the establishments because of the complaints raised against the noise and crowds in the area at night. While Baywalk became more “clean” as a result, some have criticized this move as a cause for the decline of tourism and activity in the area.
Then came the onslaught of the Typhoon Pedring on September 28, 2011 (international name: Nesat) which brought a storm surge that rammed through the Manila Bay seawall, damaging it and significant portions of the Baywalk in the process. Being someone who grew up with the Baywalk, it was heartbreaking to see the damage done to this place.
But hope always spring eternal. At this time of writing, renovation and repair works are ongoing to restore the seawall and Baywalk’s original state. There are also plans afoot for a new seawall which will also serve as an additional attraction in the area.
Here’s hoping that like a phoenix, the Baywalk will rise again to play host to more beautiful sunsets in the future. For the meantime, you can still get to enjoy the Manila Bay sunsets there, if you don’t mind the sandbags and layers of brick tiles along the way.
© The Urban Roamer