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Growing up in metro south

/ 03:22 AM October 24, 2020

My father used to tell me that the present Dr. A. Santos Avenue, commonly known as Sucat Road, in Parañaque City, was once lined with salt farms and grassy plains, and not concrete buildings. It also had only two lanes, which, he said, were already wide back then, for a major arterial road, because cars and motorbikes were rare sightings.

But that was decades ago, before the 1990s, when he and my mother had just moved into the city to build a house and raise a family. Parañaque then was a sleepy town with little economic activity and whose main industries were agriculture and fishery. This part of Parañaque’s history probably explains the suburban feel of the city—a characteristic shared with its neighboring southern cities in Metro Manila such as Muntinlupa, Pasay and Las Piñas, all of which were once part of Rizal province.

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Today, these cities have moved on from being pastoral towns to becoming bustling industrial cities.

Having been born and raised in Parañaque, I was able to witness the infrastructure boom and physical transformation of the cities in the south in the last 28 years. And my favorite part about living here is its accessibility to other business districts and entertainment hubs.

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Less traffic

Vital thoroughfares in the south of the metro, such as the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), Skyway and Naia Expressway (Naiax), give seamless access to the cities of Makati, the financial center; Manila, the country’s capital and cultural hub; and nearby provinces such as Cavite, Batangas and Laguna, which have their own commercial centers and tourist sites.

SLEx, which runs from Alabang to Batangas, is now linked as well to the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax). This has significantly reduced travel time to Tagaytay City, one of the country’s top local destinations owing to its cool climate, breathtaking views of Taal Volcano and its proximity to Metro Manila.

Before the pandemic struck, being late for my flight was never a worry since there are many alternative routes to use from any point in the south. If you’re coming from Parañaque, you can go take any of the two entry points to Skyway, which can take you to other cities, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, as well as to the hotels and malls in the gaming complex in Newport City in Pasay.

The Naiax, meanwhile, was opened in 2017 to curb road congestion in the vicinity of Terminal 1, 2 and 3, cutting travel time by as much as 40 minutes. The elevated expressway, which is also linked to Skyway and the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), also provides a faster route to Entertainment City along Macapagal Boulevard and Roxas Boulevard, the Bay City and the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Manila.

The future of infrastructure in the south is bright as more projects are in the pipeline. The Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 Cavite Extension Project, which started construction in Parañaque last year, will connect Pasay City and Cavite by only 25 minutes. This is also seen to streamline traffic routes to and from the south and complement the recently opened Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange.

Other ongoing flagship projects that are expected to benefit residents in the south include the C5 South Link project, NLEx-SLEx Connector Road and Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3. All three are targeted to be completed within the next two years.

No skyscrapers

Friends from the north always notice the distinct skyline of Parañaque in contrast to other cities in Metro Manila because there are no skyscrapers. The city has kept up with the times, but the hotels, condominiums, malls and office buildings that rise in the city have been limited to a certain height. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, buildings within a 5-mile radius from the airport runway should not be more than 150 feet in height.

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Because there are no buildings towering over you, the city gives off a much more laid-back vibe. The city is also mostly residential as almost 50 percent of the land is allotted for residential use.

Living here in the southern part of the metro has given me mobility to go to places outside of the city without having to lose too much productive time on the road. Staying here was my parent’s choice, but if I could someday afford to have a place of my own, living in the south again seems like a promising option.

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