Saturday , June 23, 2018

Bunye: Rising from the ashes

NOW that the shooting war is over, government resources are now being marshaled to help Marawi get back on its feet.

Upwards of P20 billion are reportedly being earmarked by the national government for reconstruction. To be added to the Marawi fund are numerous pledges of support from overseas.

Despite President Duterte’s rants against his favorite whipping boy, the EU is set to contribute P6 Billion.

Everything is well and good. But wait a minute. Do we have a master plan for Marawi’s rehabilitation?

Correct me if I am wrong but as far as I know, government plans are limited to providing the immediate needs of folks who were displaced by the fighting.

No doubt, the temporary shelters for the “bakwits” are very important and they should be done immediately.

No doubt, the repairs of schools, hospitals and other public facilities are important and they should be done immediately.

But without a master design, we will rebuild Marawi same as before, as observed by noted Architect Felino Palafox Jr. with “houses and establishments encroaching on the streets and, in some areas, disappearing sidewalks, with improper drainage and sewerage systems, unsightly overhead and crisscrossing wires.”

To many, Palafox needs no introduction. After a stint with the Ayala group in the 70s, he later made his mark internationally as Senior Architect and Planner of the government of Dubai.

His projects in the Philippines and abroad reflect the cumulative results of observing more than 2,000 cities in 74 countries, and being able to work and help 39 countries.

From an article published a few days ago, let me quote some of Palafox’s key recommendations not just for Marawi, but for the entire Lanao.

General recommendations:

“Update the comprehensive land use and zoning ordinance of the province, as well as the comprehensive development plan.

The key to sustainable and smarter development, according to Palafox, “is aligning the land use, zoning, and development plans of the adjacent cities and municipalities.”

“It is through these plans that world-class architecture and planning principles will be institutionalized by drafting local ordinances.

“It will also serve as the guide and unifier of the vision of the people of the city.

Palafox adds that there must be public consultations and local participation in the process.

“The locals should be involved in the planning and development. Those who can immediately help Marawi are the local architecture and engineering students, as well as those who are in other fields or disciplines.

Also, there should be a balance between socially acceptable recommendations and world standards.

Specific recommendations:

Portions of the city can be re-designed to be “bikeable” and “walkable.”

The schools, hospitals and other public institutions should be rebuilt. But Palafox suggests that a portion of the ruins be preserved.

The preserved ruins will be designed as a monument to peace and as a constant reminder of what an extremist ideology can wreak.

The recommendation is based on the Hiroshima city model, where remnants of a building which ‘survived” the atomic bomb blast was preserved as a reminder of the horrors of a nuclear war. This has become an iconic landmark for Hiroshima which attracts droves of tourists yearly.

This also recalls the way the Americans preserved the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Quite a number of the ships sunk during the bombing were refloated, made combat-ready and deployed in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Two of USS Arizona’s still serviceable guns were salvaged and reinstalled in another battleship which later fought off Okinawa.

But the bulk of USS Arizona was left where it lay.

Now straddling the ship’s hull is the USS Arizona Memorial which was erected to honor the 1,177 servicemen who died during the attack. The structure cum museum provides tens of thousands of tourists yearly a convenient viewing access to the sunken ship which has been declared a national shrine.

With proper planning, born out of public consultation and active participation of the locals, Palafox believes that Marawi can be re-designed to be “better, safer, smarter and more sustainable.”

I cannot but agree 101 per cent.

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