Home>Editorial>Opinion>Beautify this!

Beautify this!

Crushed white rocks don’t make a gigantic “open septic tank” that is Manila Bay a pristine sight, a sweet-smelling site.

For as long as the water quality is filthy, if not toxic, and below safe levels that could support and sustain marine life, such solution to the problem would be a band-aid. cosmetic, and costly.

Come on, who are we fooling here?

Everyone and his uncle know that the water in the bay is a deadly cocktail of industrial effluents, commercial chemicals, and untreated household wastewater.

Shouldn’t we be addressing these problems first before lining the coastline with white pebbles?

Ge this: Nature has a way of healing itself if we just let it.

Meanwhile, efforts should focus on wastewater treatment, solid waste management, resettlement of coastal informal communities whose residents use the bay area as bathroom and toilet at the same time.

And yet an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has insisted that the white sand in the Manila Bay beach area along Roxas Boulevard is “not white sand but crushed dolomite boulders”.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the crushed dolomite boulders came in from Cebu and were already granulized before bringing them to Manila.

Antiporda said it would be overlay the beach area of Manila Bay, famed worldwide for its beautiful sunset.

He said the department and the Manila Bay Task Force are working on Phase 1 of what he called “the Manila Bay beach nourishment project”.

Isn’t it quite late in the day for that? The bay area is virtually dead. How do you nourish a deceased marine ecosystem?

The overlaying, sand the DENR deputy chief said, would be completed before September 19.

Some groups are questioning the overlaying of sand on Manila Bay’s shores, saying the project is focusing on aesthetics and giving little contribution to rehabilitation and restoration.

But Antiporda assured that “engineering interventions” are being done to ensure that the bay’s beautification would not be put to waste.

“Some engineering interventions will be done in the area to make sure that the beauty of Manila Bay would be preserved and maintained,” he said.

Did we hear it right? Engineering solutions to an ecological problem?

We sense an abysmal disconnect here.

And, please, beautification is not the answer here; a massive, long-term, and well-studied cleanup is, stupid!

The department, he said, is making sure that Manila Bay would become viable for swimming, so that those who do not have the opportunity to go to the country’s finest beaches, such as Boracay and El Nido, can do can enjoy the same experience right here in Manila.

Yeah, right.

And yet the DENR official admitted that the water quality at the Manila Bay still does not pass the “clean” level that the department targets to achieve — about 200 maximum contaminant level or less — by December.

With the typhoon season lasting historically until November and occasionally extending well into January, we wish the gung-ho DENR official all the luck.

Typhoons unleash torrential rains that trigger floods and landslides, causing rivers and streams to swell. The rampaging floodwaters drain into Manila Bay.

Strong winds whipped up by fierce storms also lash violently the coastline along Roxas Boulevard all the way to the Coastal Highway leading to Cavite, sending back to land all the filthy jetsam and flotsam thrown into the bay.

But Antiporda still sees paradise emerging along the same coastline soon.

Once the bay area is reopened to the public by the end of the year, rules would be set, such as no eating or drinking by the beachfront, he said, adding that single-use plastics would be banned.

Security would be tight and the putting up of structures, tents, or umbrellas would not be allowed.

“It would be purely for strolling by the white-sand beach. That’s what would happen once it is opened to the public,” he said.

The guy can daydream all he wants while the open, gigantic septic tank sizzles with toxic chemicals, industrial effluents, and human and animal fecal matter wafting in the afternoon heat.

Get your goggles, flaps, and rubber boats ready. And, yes, wax your surf boards, too.

But let the guy be the first to make a dip into the water and ride the wave.