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Heritage advocates push for open space at state-owned Paco property

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A CENTRAL park in Manila?

Achievable, according to heritage conservation advocates, who are urging Manila City Hall to use Isla de Provisor in Paco, Manila as part of an urban renewal program and create a Central Park like that in New York City.

In a position paper, The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) Philippines said, “The City of Manila again has an opportunity to recover Daniel Burnham’s dream for the city by regenerating areas along the winding river and estero system that goes through it. The conversion of Isla de Provisor in Paco, Manila into a public park and open space can be an anchor project for a larger urban renewal program.”

State-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) plans to enter into a negotiated sale for eight lots covering 20,975 square meters in Isla de Provisor. PSALM failed twice before in selling these lots, which are valued at P482.4 million. (See, “Psalm Paco-Manila lot attracts three buyers,” in the BusinessMirror, August 12, 2021.)

Doris Magsaysay Ho, chair of Asia Society Philippines, also appealed for a public space in Isla de Provisor. “A government-owned asset like Isla de Provisor is a unique opportunity to create sorely needed public spaces especially along the Pasig River for the enjoyment of Manilans and the Filipino people. It is time for every Filipino to take a stand to protect Isla de Provisor, while we still can,” she said.

“This people-centric impact would have profound implications beyond Manila and beyond our present generation,” she stressed. Magsaysay Ho is president and CEO of the Magsaysay Group of Companies.

1 sqm of park per person

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined the ideal amount of green space at 9 square meters to 50 sqm per person. “Metro Manila has only 200 hectares of parks, along with civic spaces, giving about 1 sqm of public park and open space per person,” said TICCIH.

TICCIH asserted that Isla de Provisor is part of a vision for a Manila Central Park formed by a linear park system from Port Area to Malacañan Palace, and from Port Area to Roxas Boulevard and the CCP Complex.

“There is always a bigger picture for the City of Manila,” said TICCIH. “Isla de Provisor is one piece towards that vision for the future. We should harness this valuable opportunity for a better Manila by converting Isla de Provisor into a public park.”

Given the area’s geography, the group added Isla de Provisor “can be linked more to the islands that comprise Quiapo, San Sebastián, San Miguel and Isla de Convalecencia. Thus said, the buildable quality of its soil is something that needs so much work (pile-driving, etc.). Coupled with the restrictions on height and density owing to its proximity to the Malacañan Palace and being directly in the sightline of Rizal Park, it will be a far better option to develop the place into a park and civic center to be enjoyed by those that live, work, and study in the area.”

The Psalm lots sit along the banks of the Pasig River. It was the site of the decommissioned Manila Thermal Power Plant, which has since been sold. The lots are adjacent to Adamson University, Technological University of the Philippines,  the Philippine Women’s University, SM City Manila, Robinsons Place, a substation of the  Manila Electric Co., and the controversial Torre de Manila condominium.

Image courtesy of TICCIH Philippines

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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