By JULLIE Y. DAZA
As Ted Failon put it, we’re cleaning up Manila Bay now for future reclamation?
If a survey were to be taken, how many percent would approve of the cleanup? 101 percent! How many would want their bay reduced by reclamation? Zero or below-zero?
It’s a case of serendipity that the news of hundreds of volunteers working to rescue a slice of Manila’s precious scenery was just what the nation needed to wake up to the possibility of a further degradation of a true icon.
Bobby Joseph, Manila Yacht Club commodore and the best tourism secretary we will never have, trusts in the “militarization” policy of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a man of few words, when he declares that there won’t be any reclaiming, at least not for now. Militarization, in this sense, means a reprise of the Boracay rehab where soldiers and police took charge of Mission Almost Impossible and closed down the cesspool in paradise for six months to restore it to its near-pristine beauty. Then Tourism secretary Wanda Teo, who blew the whistle on the decay of Boracay, described General Cimatu as “matapang” (fierce) and results-oriented.
To imagine that the Manila Bay re-do is but a reprise of Boracay is a big mistake. Commodore Joseph: “Boracay is only one percent of Manila Bay’s problems. Bulacan, Pampanga, Cavite and Laguna all discharge their wastes into the bay!” Boracay was off limits for 180 days; Manila Bay needs 3,650 days to be great again, funded in its first year by P4.7 billion that DENR will source from fines and penalties paid over the years. “No cash out.”
The Commodore’s in his element when he talks about the bay (granting, no conversion of any of its 22,000 ha into 22 reclamation projects) as a shelter for the club’s marina and how it’s a second home to young men who are being trained to sail here and abroad, where the pay is $2,000 to $3,000. As someone with businesses rooted in tours and travel, wine, restaurants, even a wine museum, he is at the right time and place. In May, Manila will host the centenary of Manila Rotary Club, the oldest in Asia. Rotarian Bobby expects 5,000 members from the Seven Seas to come, fall in love with Manila, the bay and its sunset.