Condo building to rise on Vitas slaughterhouse site

Isko Moreno & Honey Lacuna
Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna are joined by city engineer Armand Andres (right) as they lower the capsule at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Tondominium 1 in Vitas, Tondo.(JERRY S. TAN)

REMEMBER the smelly, trash-filled sorry state of the site of the Vitas slaughterhouse in Tondo when Mayor Isko Moreno visited it during his first few days in office?

It is now a clean area even as soon, a 15-storey condominium building will rise on its site after Mayor Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Manila government's in-city vertical housing project, kicking off with ‘Tondominium 1’, to be followed by 'Tondominium 2' and later on, 'Binondominium'. 

Also present were city engineer Armand Andres, planning chief Architect Dennis Lacuna, urban settlements office chief Atty. Cris Fernandez and Andres’ head of design unit architect Pepito Balmoris.

In her speech introducing the mayor, Vice Mayor Honey said his father (former Vice Danny) had long wanted to implement the said kind of housing program but did not have a chance to do so. 

Lacuna thanked Moreno for putting his full trust in her from Day 1 and treating her like a sibling, even as she thanked him for the project, saying: “ang naantalang pangarap ng aking ama, kayo ang nagtutuloy.” 

Moreno for his part, said the project is the realization of his lifelong dream and a shared vision with former Vice Mayor Danny Lacuna who happens to be one of his mentors. 

"I share this with Boss Danny. This is his vision and my lifelong dream," said Moreno, whose voice cracked as he looked back to his life as a squatter and of uncertainty, saying whether or not they will still have a place to stay in the following day is a question that bugs their minds every single day.

Once finished, the building will house a total of 168 units each with a floor area of 44 square meters and every unit will have two bedrooms.

“Marami ang nagtatanong bakit ang laki per unit? We want to show how to give an honest-to-goodness, liveable and decent housing.  Mahirap mangupahan at walang sariling bahay,” Moreno said.

The mayor also recounted the times when his family experienced being booted out of their rented home and how to be a squatter and said that as much as possible, he would not want the present and future generations in Manila to experience the same thing.

Andres said that Moreno was specific in ordering that the building better be of good quality and that the time frame set for it to be finished is one a half years. 

“Hindi ako tatanggap ng ‘substandard,’ metikuloso ako. Ayoko ng ‘mema’ o ‘yung me maitayo lang. I want Manilans to know the true meaning of ‘Tondominium,’ Moreno added. 

Moreno was wildly cheered on by residents who watched and listened to him through their windows, where they also put up huge cartons with hand-written words thanking him for all the support he had been giving Tondo residents.