Arroceros Park open to promenaders
MANILA, Philippines — On his first day on the job, Manila’s new mayor, Alfredo Lim, reversed two of his predecessor’s most controversial decisions—the closure to vehicular traffic of a portion of Avenida Rizal in Sta. Cruz and of the Arroceros Forest Park.
On Sunday, a crowd which was gathered in the area cheered as Lim removed some of the tiles that paved the “pedestrianized” portion of Rizal Avenue—from the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue to Carriedo Street.
The area was closed to vehicles in 2003 based on a resolution approved by the City Council. The “pedestrianization” of Rizal Avenue—a national road—was met with much criticism as it led to traffic congestion in the area with vehicles forced to take narrow, secondary streets.
Armand Andres of the City Engineer’s Office said it would take at least a month before the area could be opened to traffic because all the tiles from the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue to Carriedo Street would have to be removed first. The street would then be paved with asphalt, he added.
Lim, meanwhile, asked the City Engineer’s office to be careful in removing the tiles, which reportedly cost P40 each, so that these could be reused for other projects in the city.
As early as 6:30 a.m., Lim was already at work. With a group of Raha Sulayman Rotarians in tow, he led in the cleanup of Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard.
“Come what may, I will do what I promised. Kahit Linggo, magtatrabaho tayo (I will work even on Sundays),” the 77-year-old mayor said.
At 10:40 a.m., Lim attended a thanksgiving Mass organized by Winner Foundation for the reopening of Arroceros Forest Park. The affair was attended by environmentalists and artists who used to frequent the area before Lito Atienza, as mayor, ordered it closed to the public.
Winner president Regina Paterno said they were “ecstatic” over the reopening of the park even though 70 percent of the trees had been cut to give way to the City Schools Division Office building.
Indigenous tree species would be planted as part of their reforestation efforts, she added.
“We are grateful that Mayor Lim will once more entrust the Arroceros Park to Winner Foundation,” said Paterno. Lim responded by thanking the environment group for their “time and effort” in taking care of the 2.2-ha park.
“The structure will stay, but there will be no more new structures in the park,” he said, though he suggested the construction of a small artificial brook to be filled with fish, along with a Japanese-inspired bridge to attract more visitors to the area.
The park would also be lighted and opened to the public 24/7, Lim said.
He vowed to renew the 1993 memorandum of agreement he entered into as city mayor with Winner, the park’s former caretaker, for another 25 years.
Atienza had declared the MOA nonbinding since it was not approved by the city council.
Lim attended the blessing of a fire truck donated by Rotarians. He later rode on the truck on his way to Baywalk where he said establishments selling liquor would definitely be shut down.
“Magtinda na lang kayo ng ice cream (Sell ice cream instead),” said Lim.