A Petition to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim: Please Stop High Rise Construction on R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, Manila

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A Petition to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim: Please Stop High Rise Construction on R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, Manila

July 2008

Hon. Alfredo Lim
Mayor of Manila
City Hall of Manila

Your Honor:

We are a group composed of residents and friends of Manila. We congratulate you for having emphasized Law and Order as a basic pillar of your governance. Indeed without these two, Manila cannot move forward. We also thank you for paying attention to the preservation of the citys cultural heritage. This is a resource that is used by major cities abroad in attracting tourism and investment. In this connection, we would like to call your attention to a problem confronting the public on R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo.

R. Hidalgo Street connects San Sebastian Basilica to Quezon Boulevard, and ultimately to the Basilica of Quiapo. On it are two important schools, Manuel L. Quezon University and Nazarene Parochial School, and two religious establishments, the Convent of the Holy Face and the Clinic of San Juan de Dios. Alongside it are remaining mansions from the 1880s-1920s, which bear witness to the time when R. Hidalgo Street was called the most beautiful street in Manila.

However, R. Hidalgo Street has many problems. Legitimate businesses are fleeing, enrollment in MLQU is down, and the street is grimy and very unsanitary. Faculty, students and legitimate businessmen blame the constant heavy traffic as well. There are five jeepney terminals that hog the streets and they make it difficult for customers to visit particular businesses in the area. They also make the streets dark and unsanitary, according to faculty and students.

Some of the concerns regarding the construction of a high-rise building include the impact it has on the urban plan of the area. The past constructions show how the lack of a master plan led to the lack of harmony among buildings in an area. This is significant for the street and the area because a structure, which has potentials of being classified as a World Heritage Site, dominates the area.

The tentative list for the Philippines notes that San Sebastian Church is located in Quiapo, one of Manila's older districts. Surrounding it are rows of old houses. If the city will take lead in cultivating national pride through its heritage, proper protection should be accorded to the structure and to its surroundings. In order to make the city livable, sustainability should also be ensured in the community so it will continue to be habitable. Hence, the basic needs and services should be available to the people of the community. Balance can only be attained if the density of people is proportional to the basic needs and services in the community.

A new high-rise is now being built on R. Hidalgo Street at the corner of Carcer. It is projected to have nine to ten stories. It is owned by New San Jose Builders. In this regard, we raise the following points:

1. What traffic plan has been devised for R. Hidalgo Street? The present heavy traffic will get worse with this high-rise. In fact this high-rise will create problems for itself.

2. Without a viable traffic plan, how will its residents get in and out of the high-rise without causing a traffic jam for themselves and for the rest of the street?

3. The water situation in Quiapo is bad enough. What will the impact of this high-rise be on the waterlines?

4. Will not the faзade of the high-rise destroy forever the look and atmosphere of the street? It is in between two heritage mansions, the Paterno and the Ocampo. Both of these are two story dwellings from the 1880-1910. The tower is totally out of line.

We propose suspending the construction until the following are done:

1. Come out with a workable traffic plan for the street to be funded by the owners of the high-rise.

2. A study as to the impact of the tower on the water lines.

3. Push the nine to ten story tower a few meters away from the street and at the same time have a two story faзade in front with an arcade that will continue the arcade of the adjacent to Paterno house. Visual harmony reinforces a sense of order on a street.

If the above-mentioned proposals cannot be granted, we propose full suspension of the high-rise construction.

We trust in your good judgment.