Iloilo Esplanade hailed as PHL’s best


WORLD-renowned architect Paulo Alcazaren agrees that there should be balance between nature and development in the ongoing Iloilo Esplanade projects. (File)

ILOILO CITY’S Esplanade project was recognized by the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA) as the Best Landscape Design for the Institutional Category.

World-class landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren presented the award to Senator Franklin Drilon and Ilonggo stakeholders during the Forum on Utilities and Infrastructure of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILED) at The Mansion in Iloilo City, Nov 24, 2017.

“The Esplanade won against about six or seven other projects that were screened by five judges who are all professionals in urban design and landscape architectures. Four of them are foreign (practicing landscape architects from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) and one is local,” Alcazaren said.

More than 30 entries were adjudged according to the following categories – residential grounds, campuses, condominium facilities, and institutional projects, which includes parks, plazas, esplanades, bikeways, and pedestrian networks.

Alcazaren, who designed the first Esplanade in the city, said the tourism and rest and recreation landmark is a “visible outcome of initiatives by local and national governments”.

Citing problem on easements and illegal settlers in major cities of the country such as Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, Alcazaren noted that works on the Esplanade was made easier with the local government unit-national government partnership of clearing the riverbanks of illegal settlers, who were eventually relocated to government sites 10 years before the project started.

“Because the river was clean, it was easy to convert the dike road into the Esplanade,” he said.

Alcazaren said Iloilo Esplanade, which is located on both sides of the river, is the first in the country.

“Only Iloilo has a continuous Esplanade where you can get from Carpenter Bridge to Fort San Pedro. In Pasig River, the planners are having a hard time because of the easement and illegal settler concerns,” he said.

Alcazaren urged the people of Iloilo City to “own” the Esplanade by using and keeping it clean. He also hopes that the city’s planners will learn how to design urban streets not only for cars but also for pedestrians.

Meanwhile, Alcazaren opined that environmental issues in an urban setting have to be addressed by recognizing the functions of trees and plants like mangroves.

Recently, contractors and the government agency in charge of Iloilo Esplanade extensions in LaPaz area were criticized for cutting down mangroves affected by their projects.

“Mangroves are natural protection; you don’t want the entire river covered with mangroves because functionally you have to have a balance between what people need and what nature needs. Functionally, we have enough mangroves to ensure the balance of the river itself, you do not need to fill it up with mangroves,” he added.

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