Roxas Boulevard, formerly known as Dewey Boulevard, was once an icon of tourism in Metro Manila until in recent years when it has fallen into hard times with the rapid development on the coastal strip along the cities of Pasay, Manila and Paranaque.
An eight-lane arterial road that connects the centre of Manila with Pasay City, Parañaque and the province of Cavite the boulevard was named after former president Manuel Roxas. Coconut tree-lined with a wind-swept promenade on the Manila side, the boulevard is well-known for the famous Manila Bay sunsets. In the 1950s the boulevard was lined with high quality restaurants patronized by the Manila’s well-heeled society.
During the Marcos regime the boulevard was often used for Imelda Marco’s endless cultural parades (the ended on Rizal Park) including epic (read: pompous) and costumed re-enacting of Philippine history on massive wheeled floats, the hysterical Papal visit parade to hordes of dancers that accompany international beauty pageant parades, complete with flag-waving schoolchildren lined up along the boulevard.
Today, the boulevard has lost much of its shine due to the coastal reclamation project that pushed the Manila Bay shoreline further to the west of Manila, far from the boulevard. Seedy night clubs and motels have also replaced or crowded out the quality restaurants. Replacing the famous sunset views in Pasay are high-rise condominium towers and shopping mall complexes.
Despite the creeping urban plight, Roxas Boulevard remains a favourite for Metro Manilans out for a leisurely stroll or those wishing to catch a glimpse of that famous sunset by the bay.
Mabuhay ang Roxas Boulevard!
La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City is the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents.
The park is owned by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a government agency. La Mesa Watershed is 2700 hectares, 700 hectares of which is the reservoir and 2000 hectares of which is the surrounding forest.
This forest is the last remaining one of its size in Metro Manila and serves as its carbon dioxide sink. La Mesa Watershed, therefore, is vital to the city, not only because it is a primary source of drinking water, but also because its forest functions as the lungs of Metro Manila, providing it with clean air. (From the La Mesa Ecopark Website).
Mabuhay ang La Mesa Watershed!
The Jose Rizal Monument at Rizal Park
A tour of Manila is not complete without a visit to Rizal Park. Named after the country’s national hero Jose Rizal, the park is one of the very few ‘green lungs’ in the congested city of Manila.
Located at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard and overlooking Manila Bay, the park was the site of historical events such as the execution of Rizal in 1896, the official declaration of Philippine independence from US rule in 1946 and in more recent times the favored endpoint of political rallies and propaganda (think of the military and cultural parades organised by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos).
For the average Pinoy this park is a favorite site to hang and laze around and get accosted by orange robe-clad Hare Krishnas, Bible preachers, witness countless family picnics, spy on love birds or ogle at the busloads of Korean and Japanese tourists uttering ‘Jose Rizar’ and pointing their camera flashes at Rizal’s bronze bust.
Before the era of air-conditioned shopping malls, Rizal Park is the main rendezvous point for Metro Manilans and schoolchildren skipping their classes. There is a Japanese and Chinese gardens in the park, the Quirino Granstand and a central fountain that used to add some magic to the park.
Aside from its historical import, Rizal Park should inspire future city administrators and planners in Metro Manila to build more parks and less commercial edifices and complexes. Metro Manilans certainly don’t need another mega-mall or LRT station.
But at the rate fat and juicy commissions from commercial developers are being doled out to prompt and attract City Hall approval, the inspiration from Rizal Park for more ‘green lungs’ may remain as elusive as the personal dreams of Jose Rizal.
Mabuhay ang Rizal Park!