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Dec 18, 2012

Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay at Night

Roxas Boulevard near Manila Bay at night.

Roxas Boulevard is one of the main key streets to the overlooking view of Manila Bay sunset in the city of Manila (but there is this Seaside Boulevard across the SM Mall of Asia which is a far better place to view the sunset). It looks perfect on postcards, particularly the orangey sunset of the bay. But once you get in touch to this boulevard you will notice a horde of informal settlers who really don’t have homes to stay, vendors scattered around selling candies and cigarettes maybe and children who look like they don’t have parents at all. Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay should have been a romantic place for lovers who speculate the beauty of the setting sun, but that should have been long story ago. I don’t think it is still like that today.


Part 2 of Nights in Manila

Bright lights adorn the street of this part in Manila
Honestly I was disappointed with what I saw when we strolled the length of Roxas Boulevard in Manila, knowing it’s continuously connected to the main Manila attraction, that is the Rizal Park. Farther from it is the Walled City of Intramuros and just in front of the Quirino Grandstand is the Manila Ocean Park. Everything looks fine when you are inside the bus peeking at the window, looking at the nice Manila views. But the realization is when you actually get in there. And I realized all those in the movies are fake. Those scenes in Roxas Boulevard featuring the Manila Bay, with so less people, less vendors and less garbage were like 1960-ish. And the trash—a bulk of trash—floating just beside the seawall, it’s disgusting. I wonder if they care about the nature—or those poor urban dwellers, with no nothing at all, don’t care anymore.

Few homeless people sleeping by the side of the Manila Bay seawall is forgivable, but a community of informal settlers making Roxas Boulevard and Rizal Park their home is undeniably a problem. When we actually got nearer to the seawall I was overwhelmed by the fact that there is like a family sleeping on it every 2-3 meters. Whoa. And there is this feeling that somebody might just stab you at the back, snatch your phone and leave you like good-for-nothing. Strolling Roxas Boulevard along the bay at night—definitely not more fun in the Philippines! I do not recommend you to do what we did. Remember about safety.

That side of Manila looks beautiful—high rise buildings, coconuts and a smooth pavement—it all adds up the urban feel. Only when you walk the street and you realize it’s how unsafe to do it at night. The street lights are unique—they resemble the atoms or molecules.

The molecular design of the street lamps along Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
 I think the main problem there is how to actually alleviate the number of homeless people staying there. The housing project comes in, but I really don’t like the concept of them being thrown out far away with small houses to stay in. I once watched a Thai movie, and I noticed a high rise building with poor people living in it. That’s a better idea. If the government will propose a housing project for the homeless, then constructing a high rise building apartment for them is a wiser concept. It’s actually the principle of increasing the number of people living in a square kilometer of area, the density. It’s the idea of urbanizing a small city with a good government and good people—unlike Manila now—it’s a big, big city. Creating a subdivision for them is no no for me. It requires a lot of land which can already be utilized for other important matters like agriculture, a plant, or a sewerage system maybe.


I just realized how badly Manila needs a reurbanization scheme. Their government has to create a grand master plan for the totality of the metro. It should be for the long term already because what I used to see in the news are all short term fluctuations. And this is the capital of the Philippines remember it has to be worthy into the eyes of the tourists. It’s the door to almost all of the nature wonders in the country. If everything will be smooth along the way, then it’s not impossible to see Manila as an economic livable city where everyone enjoys the urban life.

Nights in Manila Mini-Travel Series:
Part 2: Manila Bay at Night (City Lights of Roxas Boulevard)
Part 3: Manila Night Scape: Rizal Park

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