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Breathing new life into Pasig River

The Pasig River is an iconic landmark in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila. But in the past decades, it was mostly cast in a bad light due to its degraded state, which is an irony considering its proximity to Malacañang Palace. 

Last month, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos led the ceremonial opening of the “Pasig Bigyang Buhay Muli: Pasig River Urban Development Showcase Area” project.

In his speech, the President stressed that the project’s lead proponent is the First Lady, describing her as “a passionate champion of this river’s revival, who has been quietly doing the spadework as is her way on this project.”

The 500-meter showcase area behind the Manila Central Post Office building is now a quaint public park featuring a pedestrian-friendly walkway on a concrete platform, vintage Victorian lamp posts, a row of illuminated water fountains, and sitting areas which can also serve as an open-air venue for events.

But this is just a taste of things to come. 

The opening of the showcase area is part of the Pasig Bigyang Buhay Muli (PBBM) master plan that is in line with Executive Order No. 35 issued by President Marcos Jr. It constitutes the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development (IAC-PRUD), which is tasked by the President to facilitate and ensure the rehabilitation of the Pasig River and nearby water systems.

Part of the council’s tasks is to relocate informal settler families living along the banks of the Pasig River with the help of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

According to DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar, who is also the head of the IAC-PRUD, the President and the First Lady want the project to be people-centered and community-driven. 

Think of the Thames River in London, the Chao Phraya in Bangkok, and the Seine River in Paris—the government envisions the Pasig River to be like these iconic waterways that play a significant role in economic development. 

The PBBM project that aims to breathe new life into Pasig River will focus on both rehabilitating the waterway and harnessing the tourism and economic potentials of its banks and nearby communities.

The area along the 25-kilometer stretch of the Pasig River from the Manila Bay to Laguna de Bay will be turned into mixed-use commercial areas and open public parks.As the goal is to make “people-centric improvements,” it will also include jogging paths and bike lanes from the city of Manila up to Rizal province.

The President wants it also to be a showcase of green technology where solar lights, rain harvesting facilities, and urban gardens are present so that it can be a model for sustainable practice.

Pasig River will soon be a scenic area full of life and of livelihood opportunities. And as the President himself has declared, it will be a transformation that “sinks to its very bottom.”

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