Former President now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada faces the challenges of ridding his city of debt amounting to P3.5 Billion and reviving the once thriving tourism industry of the capital city.
Proving, yet again, his mettle as the leader who laid the foundation of San Juan’s Cityhood, Estrada has reportedly put his support behind the proposed Manila Solar City Reclamation project.
As a joint venture between the City of Manila and the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation, the Manila Solar City Reclamation project is expected to generate more than P9 Billion in real estate taxes alone and create about 200,000 new jobs.
The reclamation project, which substantially increases the viewing space for Manila Bay’s world famed sunset, will not only be built at little cost to the cash-strapped city government but also prop up its present and near future revenue earnings.
Once completely built, the Manila Solar City will have docking facilities for international luxury cruise ships, connecting the Philippines to a multi-billion dollar Asian region tourism industry.
According to the website Red Luxury Asian luxury cruises are bound for the up and up:
Pier Luigi Foschi, Carnival Corporation’s Head of Asia, predicts that Asian passengers will account for one in every five cruisers, or about double the ratio today, by the end of the decade. He expects Asia will be able to supply 3.7 million passengers a year by 2017 and 7 million passengers a year by 2020.
Together with the docking facility for international luxury cruises, Manila Solar City is planned to have an extensive center for Philippine culture and arts. From the classical to the currently popular, Manila Solar City has in its plans a number of performance venues as well as museums, galleries, and exhibition centers that will highlight the best of Philippine culture and entertainment.
Wilson Tieng, the President and CEO of Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation, intimated that Filipino sculptors and other visual artists have already been consulted on designs for monuments and installations depicting heroes of Manila and the Philippines.
MGDC promises to build destination attractions that will bring in foreign and local tourists just as world-class structures like the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, The Burj Dubai, the London Eye (a giant Ferris Wheel in London) have become destination attractions in other countries. If MGDC can do that, this will make Manila a must-visit tourist destination for the whole world.
The Manila Solar City is not only intended to realize a grand vision of Manila Bay as the country’s front door to the world (a vision articulated by world renowned architect and urban planner Jun Palafox), but also help the 500 year old capital city withstand the onslaught of climate change.
During the Dredging and Land Reclamation 2012 Conference in October 2012 in Singapore, Palafox made this statement: “The reclaiming of a big portion of Manila Bay could reduce Metro Manila’s vulnerability to flooding even during heavy rains and high tides. The Philippines has the third longest waterfront in the world but we don’t use our waterfront as front doors to development.”
He told the conference that this practice has proven to be effective in many parts of the world. Reclamation reduces flooding. Someone who agrees with this is Leo Jasareno, chief of the Mines and Geodetic Bureau (MGB) who sees the reclamation of parts of Manila Bay as a way of mitigating the effects of climate change on the environment.
Palafox is the urban planner of Dubai. Under Palafox, Dubai expanded its waterfront from its original 70 to 2,000 kilometers through reclamation.