MANILA: Rehabilitated Estero de Paco

2:31 PM

Manila, my beautiful manila, is actually a city of waterways. Before urbanization came barreling into town and poverty set in, people were actually using these waterways to get from Point A to Point B. In effect, people settled on the banks, they turned the waterways into a receptacle for anything and everything, and then there were the flooding of surrounding areas.

A couple of months ago, my friends and I had the privilege of being shown around two esteros successfully rehabilitated by the government and its partner institutions. And on a Sunny Sunday Morning, we were toured around by Miko Alino, Deputy Program Manager of Abs-cbn’s Lingkod Kapamilya foundation.

The first estero that he showed us was the rehabilitated Estero de Paco. The groundbreaking of the rehabilitation project was done by then President Gloria Arroyo back in 2009. The rehabilitation was a project by Abs-cbn Foundation, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission under the Office the President, and Shell Corporation.

According to Miko, the figures are:

Shell, P15 Million
Metrobank, P10M
Pagcor, P20M
PGMA or the office of the president, P30 M

Two to three waterways were simultaneously cleaned.

It took 18 months to rehabilitate the 1.4 Km stretch of the estero while the remaining 2.7 kms is Unilever property and thus is out of their hands.

There was a lot of help from volunteers - from the AFP particularly the marines, and schools.

There was also a lot of research done by students from UST and FEU.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that it was far from a television makeover where the ‘after’ shots were picture-perfect. But based on the ‘before’ photos we’ve seen on the billboards, vast improvements certainly have been made. Though the esteros are still murky and they do still reek, gone are the houses on stilts and the rubbish that covered the entire width of the esteros.  Miko told us that the informal settlers along the esteros were relocated to Calauan, Laguna and somewhere in Bulacan. The ones who remain by the waterways are actually legal residents of the area.

It might seem to most that it took a lot of money just to clean up a rather short stretch of estero but doing so has great affected the surrounding areas. It has greatly reduced the flooding of the surrounding areas and that in another estero, Estero de Santibanez, people can now catch fish! Imagine that. 

The rehabilitation of Estero de Paco is a joint program of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, ABS-CBN's Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig, and Shell Corp.

Fan-like steps lead to the railway tracks and to the esteros.

PNR railroad tracks

Look at that! Flowers along the esteros!

More greens along the esteros!

This billboard shows how this estero was beyond filthy and the many informal settlers contributing to the pollution of the estero. 

Sylvester the cat hangs to dry on the estero bank. Perhaps owned by one of the residents along the estero.

There's now a good distance between the houses and the esteros. 

Pathways cleared of informal settlers. 

The Paco Market was reconstructed in 2011, inspired by the original structure. 

The community in Paco uses this space in the market for gatherings and other events. 

The market is clean, charming, and rather very now with it's bare industrial look. 
The estero next to the public market is now rather lush with less rubbish floating about. 

Spot the island reactor! It is an aerator which introduces air to the water so that it could sustain life.

Next to the Paco Market is the Paco Building built in the 1930s. 
The Paco Building up close in its Art Deco beauty.

The  Bellevue Theater turned garment shop. I was only too happy that they kept this art deco theater even if they have converted its use.

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