Building better communities for Manileños | Inquirer Business
city of tomorrow

Building better communities for Manileños

/ 03:28 AM November 07, 2020

I’ve always had a love for the city. The city lights and the skylines exert a pretty strong pull on my soul. The diversity and character of its people, the myriad things and activities one can enjoy—for me, cities are about endless possibilities. I find myself lucky then to have been able to spend the last few months working on a better future for the city of Manila.

Manila is the most beautiful and most vibrant city in our country. Every neighborhood has its own identity, history, community and character. From Tondo to Chinatown, from Quiapo to Sta. Cruz, from Intramuros to Malate—every place tells its own story. Manila is a growing and thriving city with the energy and desire to achieve its aspirations.

Horizon Manila brings together my passions and ambitions for our people. I grew up in Tondo and I’ve always been fascinated by the life and vigor of its streets. I remember the distinct character of its streetscapes, the sights and sounds of Divisoria and Avenida, the traditions and culture exhibited in each procession and fiesta. I know the churches and plazas that define and anchor our communities. I walked our parks and zoos and visited the Planetarium and our museums. I watched my favorite movies in the theaters along Recto. I went to school here and remember the street life and energy and bustle of our shopfronts. All of these influences and imageries come together in this masterplan we have created.


A 30-m-wide canal with bounding parks stretches for 4 km connecting the three islands at Horizon Manila.

A better city

We are reclaiming 419 hectares in three islands in Manila Bay and building the best city for 100,000 Manileños. JR Legaspi, the president of Horizon Manila, wanted it to be “different from just a typical masterplan and an opportunity to create a better city.” From this, we determined to build communities that can organically come together to become a city.


Any masterplan for Manila has to start with its people and communities. We are not designing a top-down regimented masterplan with homogenous landmarks and streetscapes. We are creating an organic collection of 28 diverse and compact mixed-use communities that reflect the identity and character of Manila.

The three islands are bisected by a canal park that acts as the center of life in Horizon. It recalls our roots as Tagalog people who settled along the banks of the Pasig River and acts as a green valley in the middle of the bustling city. This 4 km long canal, along with the two main dividing waterways and various reservoirs, will allow the city to be self-sufficient given the availability of freshwater.


The three islands look across the bay towards the skyline of Manila and vice versa.

A better Manila

Over the last few years, we have been working on our ideas about social architecture with a network of hyperlocal, barrier-free community spaces. At Horizon Manila, we are once more pursuing ideas to help build better communities for Manileños. We’ve created a progressive collection of walkable communities that function as settlements strung along a beautiful winding canal park. Each community has its own narrative, with unique localities and features that allow them to thrive and grow into extraordinarily liveable, human communities. For us, this is the first step to building neighborhoods that can be as distinctive as the ones we grew up in.

Our cities must reflect the spirit of our times. What we can achieve for the generations to come is marked by the courage to take the next step, to move forward with the knowledge and understanding of society, culture and technology.

The city of tomorrow will be defined not by the buildings we build, nor by the systems and technologies that will continue to evolve. It is one where human society can reap the fruits of labor and technology to live an enjoyable, progressive, sustainable lifestyle. It is a city that serves to uplift the individual diversity and human qualities of people and create stronger, more connected communities for a better Manila.

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