Urban planning is very important

March 15, 2019

As cities and communities grow in time, it is essential for cities and towns to be under an office for urban planners for many cities and towns are totally unsupervised and left with a mayor, vice mayor and the city councilors who can at any given time abuse the temptation of making money and corruption once they are in power.  The DILG must play an important role.

It seems that it is embedded in the Filipino culture the hang-up of “what are we in power for.”  It is a reality and a matter of breeding to make our people in power in government service to overcome what they ought not to commit once in public service.  It all boils down to improper upbringing and canto-boy mentality that to get one over another is fair and square.

This is what our country is suffering from.  Each town and cities think that the elected officials are “owners” for they have been “elected,” properly or through cheating, when they are servants of the people once they hold public office.

The Filipinos seem to be territorial.  “This is mine and you don’t belong to my territory.”  This kind of mentality leads many officials to act as “kings” and “queens” (without titles) once elected – by vote buying and cheating.  Basta nanalo sila, bahala na kayo sa buhay ninyo ang attitude nila.

The Philippines is gifted to have a Filipino Architect, urban planner, a man educated on Advanced Management Program for Real Estate at Harvard University.  He is the Country’s Representative for the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban habitat.  We can count on some of his projects such as Rockwell Center, the Rizal Tower, Hidalgo Place and Luna Gardens and La Mesa Ecopark.  Dubai, one of the most beautiful cities where Mr. Palafox worked until 1981.  A few years ago, we awarded Mr. Felino Palapox the Gusi Peace Prize, a worldwide organization that is even larger in scope than the Nobel Peace Prize of Norway.

Having Architect Felino Palafox back in Manila after decades out of the country beautifying other cities with great success.  Our cities and towns in the country should at least consult their Urban projects; and see what he says.

My concern is Quezon City, the former Capital of the country founded by President Manuel L. Quezon and my father, Tomas B. Morato in October 12, 1939 when the City Charter was signed.

My family was among the first residents of the City way back in 1939 when my father was appointed first Mayor by President Quezon.  The City was planned by Architect Arellano to be like Washington D.C. where circles were very prominent during those years; and traffic flawed.  But the next mayors after my father removed most of them.  We still have a small one here on Morato Avenue and Timog Avenue Circle where traffic is never clogged for it flows slowly as they have it in Washington D.C.

I was six years old when my father became the 1st Quezon City Mayor in 1939.  The City was planned in such a way that along Sampaloc Avenue (now Tomas Morato Avenue), the Peoples Homesite built homes for the officials of the City; while the Kamuning area was called Barrio Obrero, with less costly houses for the employees of the City which was to become the capital of the country.  In other words, I’ve seen how this City came to be, while the others now could be called “mga bagong sampay” for they came much, much later in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

In the 1940s, the officials of the City Hall were living along Sampaloc Avenue (now Tomas Morato Avenue and its inner side streets.

It is truly lamentable, to start with, that so many Sampaloc trees planted by President Quezon and my father along Sampaloc Avenue (Morato Avenue) were felled when the restaurants started opening up.  The City Engineers Office helped cut those Sampaloc trees and I tried my best to stop them.  Infront of my building were part of the originals.  As a matter of fact, they were the first trees planted by President Quezon and my father.  They launched the project right in the center of the avenue which is right infront of my only 4-storey building in honor of my parents.  That’s the height allowed.

Considering the water shortage we are suffering from now, it does not speak well of our present City Council who started giving Special Permits for no less than four 21 storey condo/hotels near our area which included the ancestral home of my parents in a residential area which took us by surprise.  As the years go by, water is going to be our big problem and these 21-storey condo/hotels in a residential area will suck in all the water supply accorded to the entire neighborhood.

If the City Council wants to make Tomas Morato Avenue a sea of skyscrapers and high-rise condo/hotel buildings imitating Ayala Avenue, Cubao Commercial Center and other places in Quezon City, please respect the early homeowners in various Barangays whose purpose from the start was to have a peaceful place to live in.  After all, this area is residential since the pre-war years.  The restaurants are just part of the ambiance.

I can only call on the City Council not to make this area of Quezon City an asphalt jungle.  The Streets are narrow and even the main avenue, Tomas Morato, is not prepared for 21 storey condo/hotel buildings that the Quezon City Council is giving away.  They have the advantage of knowing what they want to do without telling nor hearing the side of the residents if they agree or not.  But Morato Avenue with its 2 lane road became parking area and vehicles are left with half of the 2 lanes.  No provision for multi-storey parking area.  Watch out, the water supply will aggravate.

Several “Special Permits” were passed and approved by Joy Belmonte and Lena Juico without consulting the residents.  Like a thief in the night, we got to know much later that they have passed resolutions declaring areas commercial; and I was told that they are the first to buy in the area.  Is that right?

I can speak on this modus operandi for I was sufficiently informed by their own council members with propriety and decency of the old school.

The Mayor and the Vice Mayor can veto such anomalous practices, but they have not done anything.  They are not there to make a profit.  There are councilors who want to make a profit.  Use your right discretion and propriety for life is not all about making money.  It’s about being human in the image and likeness of God.

Be fair to your constituents.  Quezon City is not yours!  It belongs to all its homeowners and residents.

For comments and suggestions email at mlmorato@yahoo.com