Urban planner cites pros, cons of Manila Bay reclamation project


LATELY, Facebook petition sites called ‘S.O.S. Manila Bay: Save our Sunset!’ and ‘No to Reclamation of Manila Bay’ have surfaced.

Members OF social media have banded together to protest the Manila Bay Reclamation project. Lately, Facebook petition sites called “S.O.S. Manila Bay: Save our Sunset!” and “No to Reclamation of Manila Bay” have surfaced.

A pro-Manila Bay Reclamation project page titled “Help Bring Back Manila’s Pride and Glory” has been stormed with scathing comments and questions from netizens. A petition site at titled “SOS Manila Bay: Save our Sunset, No To Reclamation” says that “in addition to blocking the view of the sunset from Malate and Ermita, the reclamation will worsen floods, extinguish the tourism area along Roxas Boulevard, destroy the potential of our historic Intramuros, remove 20 vital anchorage berths for ships and most of all, take away from us a waterfront we all love.”

On Feb. 14, a full-page paid advertisement titled “The Truth About The Manila Bay Sunset” published in the Inquirer’s main section defended the project, claiming that “the truth is that Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. is creating an additional 4,223-meter sunset-viewing area on Manila Bay,” adding that the multilevel sunset viewing area will be accessible to the public via Quirino Avenue and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Real score

But the real score may be best obtained from an urban planning expert not involved in any way with the project.

Felino “Jun” Palafox, the principal architect and managing partner of Palafox Associates, told Inquirer Property that “there are disadvantages to doing a reclamation project, like it can worsen flooding, block the views of existing waterfront development, harm aquatic resources, environment and heritage historic sites. However, there are also many advantages if planned, designed, engineered, and implemented properly in the right place, at the right time, at the right land-use density and type of development. In Europe, they call water reclamation Corniche.”

Palafox added that “Roxas Boulevard (lies on) reclaimed land, and the development, I think, stretched from Taft Avenue to Manila Bay.”

He cited other examples from around the world. Singapore reclaimed over 6,000 hectares to enlarge the island from the original 65,000 hectares to 71,000 hectares. Two-thirds of The Netherlands is reclaimed, yet there is no flooding. Dubai originally had only 70 km of waterfront. The government reclaimed the Palm Islands to add 2,000 km more of waterfront.

Third longest coastline

“The Philippines has the third longest coastline in the world. While the rest of the world treats waterfront as prime real estate, the ‘front door’ of development, the Philippines seems to treat it as back of the house or the ‘garbage bin,’” he said.

He stressed that “a properly planned, designed, engineered, and implemented reclamation area can function as wave breakers to storm surges and tsunami, add urban land supply, provide the opportunity to properly masterplan new urban developments, increase jobs, and generally alleviate poverty.”

So, is the Manila Bay reclamation project, which turns out to be already an extension of the old reclaimed Manila Bay coastline, ill advised?

Palafox stressed the following questions ought to be answered first: “Will the reclamation impact on the sunset view of historical Daniel Burnham’s Dewey Boulevard? (Will it compromise) the security of US Embassy? Will the additional traffic generated by the project worsen the traffic situation along Roxas Boulevard? Will the reclamation address flooding and liquefaction issues?”

These are questions no full-page newspaper ad has enough space for to properly address.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Nteng

    I suggest an intelligent and objective discussion of the pros and cons of this project sans the wave of emotions from sectors totally ignorant of the scientific and engineering truths behind environmental and ecological issues. Gather experts on the field of aquatic, reclamation and urban developments, environment scientists, etc…. The rest are just love to make noise pretending to be social and environmental activists.

  • Janch

    Ayusin niyo muna ang problema sa baha, basura at traffic sa Manila bago kayo magdagdag ng lupang titirikan ng mga gusali diyan.  

  • WeAry_Bat

    InSearchOfTruth suggested a development just like that of Dubai.  I think it is a good idea to make buildings work with water in mind, instead of pouring soil over the ever sinking land of Manila.

    Besides, those floating cities/buildings may have a better ROI if they survive the rise of tidal waters in this century.  Other than that, I would suspect those reclamation efforts are to serve as buffer from flooding of the inner cities.

  • Bing

    have you been to Manila Bay recently? have you seen the garbage that floats around the break water of roxas blvd? what good is the sunset if at present the image and status of the bay is decripit and polluted. there is little marine life in the bay itself. fishermen need to travel quite a distance away from the bay to catch any fish at all. we have already killed it. it is not something we can be proud of today or any day as long as it remains in that state.

    if environmental issues, liquefaction, traffic, congestion and flooding concerns are addressed properly by the developer, i am all for the development. in its current state, the bay is dead anyway, killed by the very people benefiting from the sunset everyday. so any development that would mean additional jobs and income for people like us is welcome. it may even serve as a catalyst to revive manila as a tourist destination. 

  • Jay N. Ramos

    Aside from the drainage and liquefaction issues, let’s bear in mind the possible ecological impact of such a project on on tidal patterns and marine life in Manila Bay.  I oppose this reclamation project.

  • paulmart

    I am in favor of Manila Bay Reclamation. I personally witnessed how they did it successfully in other countries, Singapore, Dubai, and Sabah.  
    We should not close our mind to opportunities for development. I don’t think this reclamation will deprive us of the view of  the famous Manila Bay Sunset, but instead it will provide us with a better view of the Sunset once it is completed. Sunset will always be there in Manila Bay. It will not diappear if the Reclamation Project is implemented. This Reclamation project will even give us an exciting and modern and better viewing location.
    We cannot remain backward forever. We are now left behind in terms of development. Why not give it a chance. 
    I would rather listen to what Palafox says about the Manila Bay Development, since they are the experts. 

    • haynaku123

      tama ka dyan, etong kasing mga kontra negative lagi ang nasa isip…we need change

    • parefrank

      How you can compare Singapore with Manila? And Dubai? What they did was to make an artificial island for the very rich foreign people with astronomic prices. And most of it is still emoty.  But Dubai has at least the advantage of taxes and is not a rain and storm country like now the Philippines. Who will have such an area for the rich, the gamblers and the concerned criminality in the Manila Bay? Maybe Noynoy?
      And in addition, soon there is no more fiching and Manila fishes come from the provinces, increasing there prices out of reach of common earners.

  • carlorocci

    As long as the sun rises, the sun will set……Sunset will always be there, but the opportunity could be lost. 

    I’am in favor of Manila bay reclamation only in the area from Navy HQ up to US embassy. No to reclamation in the birds sanctuary of Parañaque.

    • parefrank

      From Navy HQ to the Embassy? That is anyway near all. And with the traffic and pollution, the birds will soon disappear. Hopefully, the global ice melting really continued or increases, the sea level will rise and swallow that stupidity As calcu;ated. if glaciers and Greenland ice has melted, the level increases enough that hi tides will cover Roxas Blvd. So, just pot billions into the Bay.

  • A_few_good_men

    Metro Manila is so congested. Any additional land is for the better as long as properly planned and designed.

    • parefrank

      Do you really think that such super expensive land will then go to the poor and common filipinos? Better send the millions of squatters back home and use the money to create jobs for them.
      Unfortunately, those people are welcome as manageable voters, even those who do not have a regular adress and would not be eligible for a voter permit.

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