Sunday, July 08, 2007


According to the Kubler Ross model, there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I went through the denial part last month ("Oh no. It can't possibly happen. Mayor Lim will be able to see that increasing security and courting business investments would be a better option for Rizal Avenue and Plaza Goiti (above) than ripping the roads up and returning the jeepneys.") Then after his oath taking and symbolic bashing of the tiles (below) last July 1, I hit the anger stage ("What the hell? And my last post..) And after my farewell tour of Quiapo last Saturday (above), I believe I have now arrived at the third stage: Bargaining.
After all, it's rather obvious that I have very little support from "civil society" in saving this street. And since I believe in only choosing battles I know I can win, perhaps negotiating would be a better option than an all out word war against Manila City Hall. Really, I have to deal with this fricking man for the next six years and he has the power to make my life a living hell if I don't get along with him (Remember, I do this job with zero government support). Besides, I don't believe in wasting my time fighting either. Honey works way better than vinegar in getting flies that's for sure. So here goes.
Mayor Lim:
What is done is done. I can't change your plans to open up Rizal Avenue to cars. But allow me to beseech you to proceed with this decision with a bit more thought and planning than what is evident right now. The former walkway is being cleared at such a speedy pace that the needs of pedestrians are not being given credence at all. Please allow me to enumerate some issues that need to be addressed so that pedestrian and vehicular traffic may co-exist without incident. Here are a few of the issues which need to be addressed along with a few of my suggestions:
A) The corner of Plaza Goiti and Rizal Avenue has always been a bottleneck (above). Perhaps you could retain a large paved brick area/plaza for human traffic at the junction of Plaza Goiti and Rizal Avenue? I believe that the front of Isettan Department Store on the left would be ideal. After all, take a look at that photo of the vendors and shoppers above. They aren't going anywhere (and neither is the statue of Mayor Lacson by the way). Just imagine trying to squeeze jeepneys inbetween these folks. It isn't hard to see what a fresh hell it can be without giving room for pedestrians and vendors to congregate on either side of the road. I also recommend leaving a wide berth for pedestrians at the corner of Recto as well (below). But I believe that this won't difficult to do because the road widens at the that area.
B.) The area below the LRT is too small for two-way traffic (below). Perhaps the entrance way from Plaza Goiti into Rizal Avenue should be a one way street? Look at how narrow the space is below the LRT station (both pictures below). Perhaps all north bound vehicles should enter Rizal Avenue through Plaza Goiti and all south bound vehicles should exit Rizal Avenue via Plaza Santa Cruz. A proper crossroad area (with lights and zebra markings) is also recommended at the corner of Raon and Carriedo to access the east side of Avenida from the west side. An underpass would be an even better idea.

C.) Make the sidewalks just a little wider. By the looks of things at the construction site, it seems that the asphalt pavement will stop right at the edge of the the walkway columns (both pictures below). This is not advisable. The sidewalks of Avenida are already crowded enough as is (and this is already with full pedestrianization of the avenue). I recommend an easement of at least 1.2 meters onto the road so that there is space for pedestrians to navigate between Carriedo and Raon streets. This is also recommended for the area below the LRT stairs at the Carriedo Stop. It seems that the stairs right now will lead right onto the asphalt itself. Please read letter A once more.

My recommended easement size should be as wide as the sunlit area (above). I repeat, do not pave asphalt all the way to the edge of the columns...

Oh, and wrought iron barriers (pretty ones please) to prevent jaywalking and to assure that commuters load in the proper areas are also absolutely necessary.

D.) Reuse the former paving brick of Avenida (seen in piles on Plaza Lawton below) to improve the sidewalks of Ermita and Malate. Truth be told, I did find it rather ironic that the Atienza administration re-paved and fixed most sidewalks in Manila except for the two streets which are perhaps of the highest profile in the city, MH del Pilar and A. Mabini. These two streets are the main thoroughfares which people and vehicles use when going from Malate to Luneta and beyond and they have looked like hell for as long as I could remember. Take my advice, fix the sidewalks and traffic on these two streets (and Adriatico and UN too while you are at it) and just watch the investments, hotels, tourists, and families flock in...

E.) Oh, and please ditch the ideas of building a Jollibee and McDonald's at either side of Baywalk. The swimming pool idea on the baywalk is also a little crazy. Shelve that too please.

Thank you.
Carlos Celdran
A concerned Manila resident

Now if anyone out there knows the mayor, please forward these ideas to him. I already sent a copy to

I really hope that he follows these simple suggestions and perhaps I can be spared from going through stage four: DEPRESSION, and I can arrive immediately at stage five.

Next: More suggestions. And my attempt to try and meet the mayor.