Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pasig River

I had a lot to think about this weekend and so was looking to just exercise and think about things but I did not feel like driving anywhere to get some outdoor. So I decided to just hike around the neighbourhood and for a number of small reasons I decided to head towards the Pasig river near Fort Bonifacio. I was apprehensive because it meant going through some rougher streets and even past Makati Jail.

To my surprise I ended up having a real great Sunday morning. I discovered Makati Park - this is a small park along the Pasig River in the West Rembo Barangay. Its actually very well kept with bird cages, an open air theatre park, and a public swimming pool. The view to the other side of the river was actually pretty spectacular with tall buildings of Pasig City but at the same time the typical Barangay multi-faceted colorful family homes that cover much of this city residential area that lined the river.

Pasig River source is in the North East of the city but in the city it flows two ways - one is west into Manila Bay via the oldest part of Manila and the other South-East into Laguna Lake. Essentially for centuries it was the main artery of transport in this city and even to this day is commercially used. Due to the lack of infrastructure, it was polluted because it was the means of waste disposal for industrial, commercial and even human sewage. Ten years ago, they started cleaning it up. And today, there are both govt and private effort to rehabilate the river.

The effort to clean it up is not just romantic but all along the river represent opportunities to develop and create great commercial and living spaces. At the mouth of the river in the old city, its possible to create incredible tourist attractions - Sorrounded by Binondo, incredible govt building buildings, the old Spanish build Intramuros, old middle class spanish residential areas of San Miguel with Presidential Palace. There are still some incredible old houses and buildings belonging to old families in San Miguel, Pandacan, Santa Ana district. All along the river to the east/south-east are big pieces of industrial properties that can be developed into top grade residential/commercial spaces like well-known Rockwell. The various smaller properties along the river all also offer interesting opportunities for creative redevelopment. If you walk along the river, you can actually spot incredible huge beautiful churches that stands out frequently as go along it. Visiting the churches is already a worthwhile attraction.

The river has come a long way since they started cleaning it up. They even catch 50kg large Chinese carps and catfish once in a while. NGOS and even companies are continually putting in effort to improve things all along the river. Its not ready as mainstream tourist destination but if you like to see things in raw form, I recommend taking ferries and boat rides that is possible along the river and imagine what can be done with it. Its really a great river that can be again. There are photos available of the river in past that I find interesting and remind you that Manila was a city like European cities when Singapore was not even a real port.

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