March 9th, 2013, 06:18 AM
You Ain't No Patron Saint
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Iloilo City and Everywhere
Likes (Received): 1250
From Iloilo Thread
Originally Posted by rene65
From Paulo Alcazaren's Phil Star article for City Sense today, March 2013:
I love the city of Iloilo. The people are warm and accommodating and the place is chock full of heritage architecture, parks and plazas. I’ve had the good fortune to visit often in the last year and a half to enjoy Ilonggo hospitality in the course of assisting the local government in designing and implementing urban improvements, specifically the new Iloilo Esplanade.
The esplanade, opened last year by President Aquino, was the brainchild of Senator Franklin Drilon. He had wanted to compliment previous improvements of the last few decades, many of whom he directly supported. Flood control measures, the new airport, bridges were built in conjunction with initiatives of past Mayor Jerry Trenas (now congressman) and current Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Senator Drilon wanted a riverside esplanade of the quality of Singapore’s famous quays. The Iloilo River is one of the cleanest in the country, thanks to measures taken by the Senator, Mayor and Congressman. It actually was the showcase of the First Philippine International River Summit last June, which was attended by hundreds of officials, scientists and stakeholders from neighboring provinces and from overseas.
Since the opening with guests Senator Loren Legarda together and Saranggani Congressman Manny Pacquiao the Esplanade has become one of the most popular spiots in the city. Thousands come everyday—early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Morning and evening joggers fill the 10-15-meter wide and 1.2 kilometer-long Esplanade.
The Esplanade was designed as a linear park. Palms, colourful shrubs and shade trees (which will mature in the next few years) were planted to provide a green ribbon connecting Carpenter Bridge with the Diversion Bridge. Ilonggos peppered their FB pages with pictures of the Esplanade and the activites there within days of its opening.
Generous lighting makes the Esplanade attractive for evening and night use. The nearby Smallville district of new hotels and restaurants, have benefited and compliment the Esplanade.
The Esplanade is also designed to protect the prolific mangrove edges of the Iloilo River. Viewing decks are provided at strategic spots from which to view these and the panorama of the city. Accommodations have been made also for future kiosks and other amenities. Regular police foot patrols ensure security for Esplanade users.
Since the Esplanade opened, the adjacent properties have perked up both in value and actual development. Restaurants and commercial establishments have embarked on improvements or new projects that are now linked to the Esplanade. Hotels are being planned and a few are already under construction within a stone’s throw of the Esplanade.
The Esplanade has been so successful that Senator Drilon has spearheaded the drive to extend the amenity on the other side first, then subsequently all along the river. Mayor Mabilog and Congressman Trenas are supporting this plus another project—the improvement of Benigno Aquino Avenue that will link the Esplanade another two kilometres inland to the existing SM Iloilo.
This new avenue will be designed as the city’s Champs Elysee. Five rows of lovely shade trees will line the long drive and provide a comfortable and green pedestrian-friendly linear parkway. Bike lanes, disabled access and other amenities will be provided. Ramps and pedestrian bridges will connect the parkway to the Esplanade, Smallville and the SM and other commercial complexes. A police station will ensure security coupled with CCTVs.
The Benigno S. Aquino Avenue improvement project saw its groundbreaking last month. The Senator, Mayor and Congressman led the ceremonies including the sinking of a time capsule and unveiling of persepctives of the proposed new avenue improvements.
Metro Manila can learn a lot from Iloilo. Its river is cleaner than the Pasig. Its heritage buildings are being conserved and its historic district retains the charm of eras past without compromising progress. Its churches are intact and its parks and plazas are getting makeovers to bring them back to their old glory.
Iloilo now has the longest landscaped river Esplanade in the country. It will soon have a main avenue that will rival Roxas Boulevard and Ayala Avenue here in Metro Manila. For all this it deserves its name, the “Queen City of the South.” It does so will citizens’ backing and the political will of its leaders, all of who understand that conserving a city and providing open green amenities, go hand in hand with progress in buildings and infrastructure.Visit Iloilo soon. You’ll love the Illongos and their warm, comfortable, character-filled city.
Feedback is welcome. Please email the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iloilo is undergoing an urban facelift.