From South Hills to Monterrazas

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Thursday, August 25, 2011


I GOT an invitation from Anne Marie Conejero of Graphic FX to yesterday’s press conference called by Genvi Development Corp., the developer of Monterrazas de Cebu, on the flooding in Guadalupe. Anna added this note to the invite: “Since you have written about the flood issue in your paper, we are hoping that you could attend and see Monterrazas’s flood control measures.”

As Anna noted, I did write about the Guadalupe flooding, and I would have gladly attended the press con so I could be enlightened more about the subdivision project in that particular portion of the city that I happened to roam around in the ‘80s. But I had already given a nod to be one of the judges in a balak and extemporaneous speech contest at the University of San Carlos on that same hour and day.

Anyway, I will be monitoring the reports on the press con and hopefully will still be enlightened about Genvi’s flood control measures through it. That’s what fairness dictates.

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Incidentally, the small gatherings of members of Batch 77 of Southwestern University’s high school department lately have given me a chance to finally set foot on South Hills Subdivision in Barangay Tisa. The house of one of our batch mates, Arnold Dusaban of Young Auto Supply Co., stands on one of the mountain slopes there.

Cebu’s rugged terrain is actually deceptive. You stand on a hillside and you get the impression that the slope facing it is near, which is not true. Before you can reach the other slope, you have to go down the foot of the hill first, and then climb the other one. In a rugged terrain, that takes time.

In South Hills, you can see the Monterrazas development from afar. This is not surprising because both subdivisions are in one mountain range, the northern side of which encompasses Barangays Sapangdaku and Guadalupe while the southern side straddles Tisa and, I think, Barangay Buhisan. Beyond the peak is the “linsa” or the forested watershed around Buhisan Dam.

I grew up watching this mountain range from the verandah of our old house in Sitio Kawayan, Barangay Sambag 2. When the slope was still farmed, fires from kaingins were sometimes visible at night, lighting up my youthful imagination. Years later, the situation would be reversed. I would sit in the slope of that mountain range and figure out where our house was in the plains below.

To be fair to the developers, the side of this mountain range overlooking the plains of Cebu City has reached a crossroads of sorts as far as agricultural development is concerned. The fertility of the land has long been lost after decades of kaingin farming and erosion of the top soil. Developing the place into a subdivision is therefore not a really objectionable alternative.

The upper portion of Tisa, once a lonely part of the barangay, is now bustling with life. Imagine what would happen if Monterrazas is fully developed and links up with South Hills. The change would be palpable.

But that does not mean developers should be given free rein there. One cannot rely on the say-so of firms that are guided by the profit motive. The flooding in Guadalupe shows the danger of government failing to monitor the work of developers, especially when earth-moving operations are massive and the natural terrain is altered.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2011.

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