More green spaces in Manila with Liwasang Bonifacio’s new ‘hidden garden’

February 17, 2021 - 7:08 PM
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This Feb. 16, 2021 photo shows "Hidden Garden" of Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. (Manila Public Information Office/Released)

The city government of Manila on Tuesday evening formally unveiled a newly-opened green space called “hidden garden.”

The one-hectare garden is located in Liwasang Bonifacio.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso dedicated the green space to the future generation of Manileños.

He said the vertical garden is part of the city’s “dreams and aspiration to create more open green space.”

“Ang inyong pamahalaang lungsod ay hindi po tumitigil sa kanyang layunin na mapanatiling maaliwalas o maging maaliwalas ang Lungsod ng Maynila. We dedicate this day to you—to the people of Manila, and those people who will come in and out of the city,” Moreno said in a statement.

He vowed that the local government will have more environmental programs.

“We will not stop our journey towards a better Manila for the people of Manila. Onti-onti, dahan-dahan, masinop, mainam at episyente, hindi tayo magwawaldas, hindi tayo maglalagay ng kolorete lamang para busugin lamang ang ating mga mata,” the Manila mayor said.

“Ang lahat ng bagay na gagawin natin on top of the pandemic approach is mga bagay na kapaki-pakinabang ng pangmatagalan katulad halimbawa ng paglilinis ng kapaligiran kasama na ang pagbibigay ng sariwa at malinis na hangin sa isang urbanized na local government tulad ng City of Manila,” he added.

Inside the garden, the city government established its own coffee shop. It said that this let them generate new jobs and opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mixed reactions

The new garden earned mixed reactions from the public with some praising the new breathing space of the Philippines’ capital while some saying it was long overdue given the hefty taxes.

“More green spaces, yay!” Kenneth Abante of Move as One Coalition said.

“Good change, lighting, landscaping, renovation. Glad for the people of Manila who were previously underserved,” Twitter user Debbie Lozare said.

Gentrification?

Others consider it a form of “gentrification,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “a process in which a poor area (as of a city) experiences an influx of middle-class or wealthy people who renovate and rebuild homes and businesses and which often results in an increase in property values and the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.”

“Dyan kayo magaling gentrification pero at what cause? Kawawa pa din ang mga mahihirap sa Maynila,” a Twitter user said.

Some concerns 

Aside from the praises, some Filipinos expressed concern over the maintenance of the garden and also thought of the homeless.

“Ganda. Sana ma-maintain at sana narelocate sa maayos na lugar yung mga homeless,” a user said.

“This is nice pero sana they incorporated benches where homeless people can sleep in,” another Twitter user said.

In his appeal to constituents, the Manila mayor asked the public to treat the garden as their own and maintain its cleanliness.

“Ito ay pag-aari niyo, angkinin niyo mga mamamayan, at parang katulad ng inyong mga bahay, pagmalasakitan niyo din itong ari-arian ninyo. Pagmalasakitan niyo sapagkat mano pa, pagdating ng araw, mas sariwang hangin ang makakamit ng inyong mga apo at anak,” he said.

Meanwhile, Liwasang Bonifacio is among the crowded areas of Manila with some informal settlers dwelling in public spaces.

When Moreno took office in 2019, he directed cleanup operations in the crowded streets of the nation’s capital.

He also ordered a crackdown on vendors on the busy streets of Manila to decongest traffic chokepoints.

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