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Table of Contents


Executive Summary
Background of the Study


Statement of the Problem


Alternative Course of Action






I. Executive Summary
This paper discusses the problems observed by the group such as traffic, parking
issues, pollution, etc. and aims to provide feasible solutions. The first part
contains the history of the city with almost 400 years of Filipino-Chinese culture
and tradition, followed by the background of the study which provides the basis
and justification for the solutions to be presented. The ideal solutions are based
on American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham and Ar. Felino Palafox,

II. Introduction










across the Pasig River opposite the Spanish

walled city, Intramuros. The area was
originally for Catholic Chinese, but nonChristian Chinese were allowed to move
into Chinatown much later in 1790. As of
2010, Binondo has a total of 12,985
residents, and a population density of
The structure that signals a tourists






Goodwill Arch. Past the Arch, there are

icons, institutions and features typical of

As in Chinatown elsewhere around the world, Chinatown has no shortage of

Chinese food. There are a lot of dishes that are mixed with Filipino cooking.
There are a lot of bargain items in Chinatown. Be prepared to bargain for most of
the goods. However, be wary of pick pockets at most of the crowded places in
this area.
It is recommended to visit this place if you are a fan of Chinese food. If you have
a strong stomach, try the balut, a developing duck embryo that is boiled and
eaten in the shell. It is commonly sold as streetfood in the Philippines.

Ongpin Street dates back in the 1890s and is named after Don Roman Ongpin, a
Chinese businessman who gained fame for his financial support of the
Katipunero rebels during the successful uprising of 1896 against Spain.
Perhaps he used his position of influence as the colonial governments Teniente
de Mestizos de Binondo (literally, Lieutenant in charge of the Half-Breeds of
What is clear is that he funded artistic endeavors that somehow kept getting
postponed even as the money secretly went to buy rifles, ammunition and
supplies for the Filipino independence movement. When his store burned down,
he donated the insurance proceeds to General Emilio Aguinaldo to aid the
revolution against the Spaniards.

Even during the American occupation, Ongpin continued to patriotically support

the revolt. This led to his imprisonment from December 6, 1900 to March 23,
1901. In his honor, a statue was erected beside Binondo Church at one end of
the street named after him.
Binondo remains the authentic Chinese enclave of Manila and Ongpin Street,
running centrally through it, is the showcase for all things Chinese and
Winding along for ten jam-packed city blocks, Ongpin is glitz and glitter;
traditional and exotic; and an assault on the eardrums.
The Chinese are very big on volunteer fire companies because arson-forinsurance fraud is a constant menace in the cramped alleys that surround


The local Chinese have come a long way from the ghetto of underprivileged
outcasts that Binondo used to be in Spanish times. In fact, most of them no
longer live there. Today, many of the wealthiest live in high-walled mansions out
in the suburbs. Nonetheless, not a few still take pride in trading and dealing from






Certainly, the mutual benefit associations and oldest Chinese temples are to
be found mainly in Ongpin. The place is quite simply a living reminder of a
minority, well and truly assimilated, that can come around any day and savor the
authentic threads of heritage left behind on the mainland long ago. (Ongpin
Street cramped, noisy but an experience.)

III. Background of the Study

With around 50 million inhabitants in the Philippines in 1980, it became around
90 million. The Philippines has one of the fastest growing populations in Asia.
Living space is slowly becoming saturated, resulting in overcrowding in some
areas. In short, the Philippines have too many people, and too little space.
(Nissen, 2006)
Another problem is the parking issue in the streets. (Macairan, 2013) Double
parking is rampant in Binondo, prompting the Manila authorities to take action.

According to American architect Daniel Burnham, Make no little plans. They

have no magic to stir mens blood and probably will not themselves be realized.
Burnham was behind Manilas original masterplan commissioned by the
Commonwealth government in 1906, whose objective was to transform the city
from an old colonial outpost to a modern urban area adapted to changed times
and modern needs.
These words capture the very essence of Burnhams spirit one that represents
his vision on how highly livable cities should be designed. In his masterplan,
Burnham envisioned Manila as a city of efficient road systems, of quaint
waterways used for transportation, and of waterfronts, promenades, parkways,
and neoclassical buildings. Manila, in Burnhams mind, was to become like many
of the worlds well-planned cities where every resident is a short walking
distance from a park, places of work, and leisure and recreational centers.
If Metro Manilas urban planning were the computer game SimCity, the player
which will be our political leaders, no less has done (and is doing) an abysmal
job. Mass transit stations were built close to exclusive gated communities and
huge military camps, the residents of which dont even take public transport.
Roads and parking spaces unable to keep up with the ever-increasing number of
vehicles. Infrastructure incapable of handling let alone mitigating the effects
natural calamities. And an army of low-income residents pushed into the corners
of the metropolis, toiling and forever priced out of the housing market.
This roughly describes the type of job our political leaders have accomplished in
terms of urban planning, which hasnt actually progressed since the Spanish
times, Palafox said.
The Philippines has for decades been following the wrong model for urbanism,
said Palafox. Our leaders envision Metro Manila as a driven city an urban area of
seemingly endless roads where elevated highways are built atop another, of
concrete megaliths that are crowded during the day and empty at night, and of
people who toil inside these concrete blocks but live in another part of the city,
preferably in one of those identical suburban houses with a two-car garage.
This is just the sort of urban planning we should move away from, said Palafox.
Indeed, why follow a model thats been proven time and again to be flawed?
Were trying too hard to become like Los Angeles or Detroit, and we dont even
manufacture cars.

There are a number of North American, European, and Australian cities that are
doing well. These include Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, Zurich, Melbourne,
and Sydney, which all boast mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable developments,
said Palafox. Mobility is not a problem in these cities as their residents can
either walk, bike, or take public transport.
Luxurious developments and gated communities sit side by side slums, while
countless office workers spend hours commuting from their workplaces to home.
Yes, mixed-use developments and townships are on the rise, but the great
majority of homes peddled by these developments cater only to haves, while the
have-nots get pushed into the dark corners of the city.
Safety from risks, both natural and man-made, is also a major concern. Who will
forget the flooding caused by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. Ive given more than 100
recommendations to the current president and his predecessor in the aftermath
of the disaster, said Palafox. One of those recommendations is addressing the
hazardsthrough architecture, engineering, and urban planningbefore they
become disasters.
Although the Philippines has got a long way to go before we achieve the sort of
sustainable urbanism the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong have achieved, but
according to Ar. Felino Palafox, there are ways we can get there.
1. Its All about Urban Renewal
Two great examples we could use as a model is New Yorks Meatpacking District
and Singapores Clarke Quay. The former successfully transformed itself from a
seedy neighborhood in the 1980s to a gentrified real estate hotspot. Clarke
Quay, on the other hand, was revived from being a polluted riverside quay well
until the mid-20th century, to a flourishing commercial, residential, and
entertainment area.
2. Our Government Should Be Serious About Urban Planning
Between the 1970s and today, urban planning was not so seriously implemented
in the Philippines, said Palafox. One thing also peculiar to the Philippines is that
infrastructure development takes so long from concept to completion. For
example, six circumferential and radial roads to serve the then growing City of
Greater Manila were proposed in the mid-1940s by the American Corps of
Engineers. This day, only C4the perpetually congested EDSAhas been

completed. This is appalling given our local governments have budget for
beauty contests and yet they have none for proper urban planning, said Palafox.
Another example is the metropolis mass transit system. After Manilas Light Rail
Transit (LRT) was completed in 1985, not a single kilometer of train track was
constructed for 14 years, when EDSA MRT commenced operation 1999. It took
another 11 years for additional train tracks were added to LRT, when the track
was extended from Monumento in Caloocan to North Avenue in Quezon City.
For many years, not a single kilometer of train track was constructed in Metro
Manila after the LRT commenced operations in 1985, signifying our leaders lack
of sense when it comes to urban planning.
3. We Should Shun the Car-Centric Model
Philippine politicians and planners dont recognize walking as the most basic
form of transportation; hence, they dont consider it when they design urban

areas. Take Bonifacio Global City, for instance, Metro Manilas poster child for
urban planning. Has anyone seen a covered walkway to get from one building to
another? This is somewhat odd given that the Philippines is a tropical country
and sudden downpours are not uncommon.

Our political leaders and property developers, according to Palafox, build

townships and cities to accommodate cars and not people. And thats one bullet
weve been unable to dodge. Even in the United States, trends seem to be
shifting. He cites a study conducted by the Urban Land Institute, which found
that the American dream is somewhat changing. Whereas before Americans
aspire for a big house and big cars in the suburbs, this time, people from all
income levels and generation prefer smaller dwellings close to places where they
work, served by good public transport, close to schools, shopping and lifestyle
areas, where they can walk.
I was talking to a Boston city planner and he told me that the number of
applications for drivers license for people aged 2135 years has dropped almost
20 percent. The city might now reduce its parking requirements as more
Bostonians now prefer to walk or to take public transport.
4. Addressing Risks Before They Become Disasters
It is an inexcusable fact that the Philippine government has an affinity for
consulting planners only after disasters, when true and mindful urban planning
could have avoided these disasters in the first place, said Palafox.
Being one of the members of the World Bankfunded Metro Manila Transport and
Land Use Development Planning Project, Palafox said they have already foreseen
that a flooding like that caused by Ondoy can happen in Metro Manila unless the
necessary infrastructure was put in place. I think one of the main reasons is that
there was no political will to address hazards before they become disasters, he
He also cited the devastation cause by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the sustained
wind of which is far higher than what our building code stipulates. I think as
architects, urban planners, and engineers, we should ask ourselves, Whats the
best way to protect people from natural calamities.
5. We Should Advocate Smart or Gateway Cities
For a city of more than 11 million permanent residents, it is deplorable that Metro
Manila lacks the integration between transport and land use. Our public transport
systems, being managed by different entities, are not seamlessly connected,
making mobility a major a headache to the citys dwellers, the great majority of
whom live in the outskirts and suburban areas.

To demonstrate, our MRT and LRT stations are surrounded by low-density

communities and gated military camps, said Palafox. Elsewhere in the world,
they have mixed-use high-density residential developments within walking
distance from mass transit stations. This eliminates reliance for private cars.
As a result, the average Metro Manila employee spends approximately 1,000
hours a year in traffic, studies show. Compare this to mere 300 hours per year in
more progressive nations. This creates so much wasted man-hours and so much
air pollution.
If given the choice, people like to live in environment-friendly cities and
communities; those that are accessible, walkable, safe, convenient, clean,
mixed-income, cross-generational, and mixed-use. The sort of places people live,
work, shop, learn, worship, and seek health care with 24-hour cycle activity
The average Metro Manila employee spends about 1,000 hours a year in traffic,
wasting too much hours.

IV. Statement of the Problem

The following are the problems we saw/encountered in Binondo.
1. Narrow roads
Most roads are narrow and can only fit one car at a time, thereby
increasing the travel time to get from one point to another. They are
originally based on the kalesa, and not on the jeepneys and other modern
transportations. The streets are also crowded with vendors.
2. Building character
The buildings have an inconsistent character for the purpose they are
serving. A commonly observable scenario is that the building character for
residential and commercial establishments is virtually the same for each
other. Most buildings look like an apartment but actually it is a restaurant
or a store.

3. Electrical wirings
Electrical wirings are low-hanging and bunched together which could be
seen as a fire/electrical hazard.
4. Drainage
There are few drainages in sidewalks which could lead to flooding if not
addressed properly, and also narrow canals that lead to a river under a


5. Pollution
We are already immune to everyday scenarios seeing garbage just
anywhere. Chinatown is no exception as they also suffer from issues in
garbage disposal. While it is a well-known fact that that the food that you
will encounter here in Chinatown are all delicious, it is worth noting that
the food can be affected by the environment. The river has a really bad
smell due to the amount of pollution in it. Tourism in this area is at stake
due to this issue.
6. Lack of green spaces or parks
In addition to being crowded, Binondo also lacks open/green spaces. We
could find no resting area in the congested district except for the shops
inside or at the Lucky Chinatown Mall.


7. Traffic flow and parking

Narrow roads, a considerable volume of cars and a high population density
resulted in a considerably slow traffic flow. If not remedied, it could get
worse and affect (particularly) the residents and tourists economically and
physically. Also, most cars just parks on the side of the road.

V. Analysis

According to Kevin Lynch's Image of a City, A city must have a path, edge,
district, nodes, and landmarks. Binondo has 7 paths or transportation routes with
Ongpin St., Masangkay St., and Escolta St. being the most prominent. The
noticeable edges are the Arches commonly found on the entrances of the
streets. There are several visible districts: the market, jewelry and crafts store,
and the food district. For nodes, the Carriedo fountain which serves as a
roundabout. Lastly, the Binondo Church and the Lucky Chinatown Mall serves as
the most recognizable landmarks of Binondo and are easily accessible from the
major road.

VI. Alternative Course of Action

There are several ways to address the aforementioned problems, such as:
1. The roads are narrow but we cannot opt for road-widening projects since
there isnt any space to expand to begin with. Narrow roads cause traffic
jams, and traffic jams cause loss of revenue. One solution is to reroute
traffic: limit public vehicles such as jeepneys to roads that are located in
the periphery of the Binondo, while pedicabs and tricycles can be used for
the internal roads. Private vehicles can also be limited to certain internal
2. Weve also noticed the absence of plants and trees in the area. In
response to the pollution, particularly the smoke and the river, a solution
is to plant more trees to filter smoke; and place water-purifying plants on
the banks of the river and to introduce saprophytic bacteria in the water,
respectively. Using large-scale public art made with pollutant-absorbent
paint that can transform toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the atmosphere
into harmless residue is also an option.
3. In response to flooding, new flooding pumping stations could be used in
order to flush the water back to the Manila Bay. If this is the only viable
solution for flooding, then proper maintenance and rehabilitation of the
flood pumping stations should be a priority.
4. Using social media to aggressively promote tourism in Binondo in order to
offset the loss of revenue brought by traffic jams.

VII. Conclusion

Most world leaders would first consult the best planners, architects, and
engineers before constructing a built environment. This is something that we
should adapt. In order to really fix Binondo it should start from scratch.
However, that is impossible, and the only thing that we can do is to apply quick
and temporary fixes.
While most problems in the area can be solved architecturally, it all boils down to
the willingness of the residents to cooperate and discipline themselves.

VIII. References

1. Frialde, M. (2015, July 15). MMDA opens 2 newly rehabilitated flood pumping
stations . Retrieved October 15, 2015, from The Philippine Star:
2. Macairan, E. (2013, January 5). Manila installs parking meters . Retrieved
October 15, 2015, from The Philippine Star:
3. Nissen, M. (2006). Overpopulation in Manila. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from
ProspektPhoto: http://www.prospektphoto.net/reportages/mads-nissenoverpopulation-in-manila/
4. Ongpin Street cramped, noisy but an experience. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15,
2015, from Philippines Travel Guide: http://www.philippines-travelguide.com/ongpin-street.html
5. Terol-Zialcita, N. (2012, March 1). 5 things travelers hate about Manila -- and
how the city's tackling them . Retrieved October 15, 2015, from CNN Travel:
6. What Is Wrong with Urban Planning in Metro Manila? (2014, February 6).
Retrieved October 15, 2015, from ZipMatchBlog: