We are hungry for parks in the Philippines.
Case in point: Do you know how many people are going to the newly-opened Pasig River Esplanade in Manila? Go to YouTube or Facebook, search for the term “Pasig River Esplanade,” and you will be surprised at the crowds out there. They are all smiling, roaming around, and having fun with their friends, families, and significant others.
Yes, it is crowded. Everyone and their cat seemed to come out in force and fill up those places, especially on the weekends! Not to mention the classic manong/manang vendors…
Not only that, but the crowds extend all the way to Jones Bridge (which is rightfully an architectural masterpiece) and beyond towards the Plaza Yuchengco promenade (which is privately-donated and well-curated with native trees and plants). Think about it: There are lots of citizens who are able to enjoy that 800-meter park stretch (500 meters for the Esplanade, 115 meters for the Jones Bridge, and 285 meters for the Plaza).
This just shows that there is a clamor for more open public spaces not just in Metro Manila, but all over the Philippines as well.
To put it into scale: Combined with the existence of the nearby Binondo-Intramuros Bridge river parks as well as the revitalization of the Pasig Ferry, the area makes up for some solid public park presence. This is not to mention the recent efforts to make Intramuros itself walkable; based on the progress that they are making, it is now practically possible to spend a day in old Manila with lots of green spaces and conducive pathways:
- Arroceros Forest Park
- Mehan Park
- Manila City Hall Museum
- Lagusnilad Underpass
- Pasig River Esplanade and the Post Office Building
- Jones Bridge
- Plaza Yuchengco
As a matter of fact, theoretically, it would be possible to make a path connecting Arroceros to the current Esplanade and even clean up the pathways to the Golden Mosque and the National Shrine of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, thus making both a “walkable spaces circle” on the City Hall side and slowly expanding the area of safe and walkable spaces overall in Manila City.
With the recent progress and hype that is happening in the old quarters of Manila, one can’t help but wonder why it took so long for everyone to get their act together and create those relatively accessible public spaces.
On the other side of the coin, places like the much-improved Maybunga Rainforest Park, the much-lauded Iloilo River Esplanade and the upcoming New Clark City (NCC) Central Park do exist, so yes, it cannot be 100% said that there has been zero progress when it comes to giving importance to the building and design of inclusive green spaces in the Philippines.
Still, we are hungry for parks in the Philippines, and no one can deny this.
I am hoping that there will be more sustainable, accessible, green spaces soon…and here’s to hoping that one day, each Filipino will have ideal access to open public spaces!
PS: You might want to read about the realities of having a reading program in the Philippines!