Manila Bay is known for having one of the most beautiful sunsets and Roxas Boulevard, the promenade fronting it, provides front row seats to this majestic view. This natural harbour strategically surrounds the capital city of the Philippines and serves as the port of the center of commerce. It also drains a big part of Luzon’s watershed area.
First called “Cavite Boulevard,” it was part of Architect Daniel Burnham’s urban plan of Manila in the early 1900s. It was later named “Dewey Boulevard” in honor of the American Admiral George Dewey, then to “Heiwa Boulevard” during the Japanese occupation, and finally to its present name in the 1960 to honor President Manuel Roxas, the fifth president of our country.
With the change of names came the change in its landscape especially during the recent years — from road narrowing, addition of weird-looking light posts, putting up of food stalls, removal of said food stalls, putting up of al fresco beer joints, removal of said al fresco beer joints, placement of benches, removal of said benches, and so forth and so on. It also serves as the home of street people, peddlers, and, sometimes, criminals.
With the new year came a good news, however, as Architect Paulo Alcazaren posted on his Facebook (January 10, 2016; 11:11 AM) that “Roxas Boulevard’s makeover is generally complete.” Improvements include renovation of the bay walk promenade, an alloted space with separate lanes for pedestrians and bikers, and a planting verge that separates the esplanade from the road. The weird-looking light posts were also removed and replaced with functionally elegant ones. More importantly, serrated planter boxes were placed and these serve as energy dissipators for storm surges and protection from the water. It is also recommended for salt-tolerant planting.
The renovation is a joint initiative of DOT and DPWH through the urban design and landscape architecture plan of PGAA (Paulo G. Alcazaren & Associates) Creative Design.
Alcazaren is one of the awarded and topnotch architects and urban planners of our country so you just know that the future of Roxas Boulevard is in good hands. You can just check out for yourselves his over 200 projects in 14 countries, including high-end residential and mixed-use developments, hotel and resorts, and large site planning in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bahrain, and, of course, the Philippines. (Info from conference.surp.upd.edu.ph.)
The problem now, Alcazaren raised, is the maintanance of the new and improved Roxas Boulevard. In the Facebook post, he wrote that his team “suggested that the responsibility and funds be extended to the Rizal Park NPDC, since this is essentially a parkway and an extension of the park. Manila claims limited financial capacity and, judging by the state of their public spaces, they have precious little capacity to maintain anything. Unfortunately too, informal kiosks have already sprouted and the Manila government may also start giving licenses for all manner of al fresco restaurants, bars or beer joints.”
If the local government can’t do it, then maybe we Filipinos can help maintain the restored and newfound glory of our very own Roxas Boulevard.