Realty exec defends Manila Bay reclamation



RESHAPING THE COAST A map of the “Solar City’’ reclamation project as envisioned by Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. MGDC Photo

“Stop the disinformation.”

The head of the real estate firm behind a proposed multibillion-peso reclamation project on Manila Bay made this appeal, as he urged critics to “look at the bright side and accept the fact that it can be beneficial to the country if done properly and given the safety nets.”

“We strongly believe it is a viable development option for the city of Manila,” said William Tieng, chair and chief executive officer of Manila Goldcoast Development Corp., referring to the plan to turn a 148-hectare portion of the bay into a commercial, business, residential and tourism hub to be called “Solar City.”

Tieng, who is also the chair and chief executive officer of Solar Entertainment Corp., pointed critics to similar undertakings in Singapore, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and China,  where he said “they used land reclamation as a front door to urban development.”

STREETS WHERE THE SEA USED TO BE An artist’s concept of the Solar City urban landscape. MGDC Photo

In an exclusive interview with the Inquirer early this week, the Chinese-Filipino businessman stressed that “there’s nothing wrong with converting a small portion of the bay into one of the best places to live, work or do business in the Philippines, if not Southeast Asia.”

Tieng defended the Manila Goldcoast Reclamation Project (MGRP) in response to groups who had warned that reshaping Manila Bay would have dire environmental repercussions and displace thousands of coastal folk who depend on the bay for their livelihood.

These include the newly revived Coalition SOS: Save Manila Bay, which successfully campaigned against reclamation projects in the early ’90s; and the militant fisher folk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Pamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

Coalition SOS members, who had initiated a petition to be given to the Manila city council, included Magsaysay Lines owner Doris Magsaysay Ho, Cultural Center of the Philippines president Emily Abrera, Worldwide Fund for Nature head Lory Tan, Ermita, Manila-based Catholic priest John Leydon, architect Paulo Alcazaren, and 1973 Miss Universe and environmentalist Margie Moran Floirendo, among others.

The group warned that the reclamation project would do more harm than good, citing geological studies showing that it could worsen flooding in Manila and put the bay area at the “highest risk of liquefaction in earthquake scenarios.” It also noted that the bay is a national historical landmark protected by law.

But Tieng said there is a need to “set the record straight.”

“Just like the CCP complex, which includes the Philippine International Convention Center, Folk Arts Theater, Manila Film Center, Coconut Palace (which now houses the Office of Vice President), and Sofitel Hotel, which by the way all stand on reclaimed land, the MGRP will not adversely affect the historic allure of the bay,” he said.

STREETS WHERE THE SEA USED TO BE An artist’s concept of the Solar City urban landscape. MGDC Photo

“With a frontage of only 635 meters parallel to Roxas Boulevard and occupying less than 0.082 percent of the bay’s surface area of 1,800 square kilometers, the project will not deprive Manila folk, as well as local and foreign tourists, of the view of the world-famous Manila Bay sunset,” he added.

The planned reclamation “will not touch the 1.5-kilometer stretch of Roxas Boulevard from the Manila Yacht Club to the US Embassy area.”

‘Green technology’

“Envisioned to abide by international best practices and standards of development projects and with the use of state-of-the-art green technology, the project will not adversely affect the marine environment. It will not cause any disruption of whatever nature to the bay’s marine ecology,” he said.

According to Tieng, “there’s no truth to claims that reclamation projects cause floods. In fact, they can reduce flooding like what they did in The Netherlands.

“We will have our own renewable power supply plus recycling and treatment of water and waste,” he said. The project “will not cause any displacement of settlers or lead to job losses” but, on the contrary, create jobs and raise revenues for both the national and city governments.

A 48-page master plan for the MGRP calls for the  reclamation of three islands: East Island 1 (about 29 ha) which is the site closest to Manila Yacht Club; East Island 2 (37 ha); and West Island (82 ha). At least four bridges will connect East Island 2 and West Island.

Other project features include the construction of an international cruise ship terminal; Philippine Ports Authority berthing areas for ferries bound for Bataan, Cavite, Zambales and the Mindoro provinces, among other routes; controlled waterway system; an artificial beach; and medium- and high-rise residential condominium buildings.

City council lifts ban

As early as March 1991, the then Public Estates Authority (now Philippine Reclamation Authority) had given Elco Development & Construction Corp., Goldcoast’s parent company, the go-ahead to pursue the project as part of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Reclamation- North Sector Reclamation Project.

On March 31, 2011, the PRA board affirmed the “previous award of the MCCRR-North Sector Reclamation Project to Manila Goldcoast Development Corp.”

In an April 1, 2011, letter, PRA general manager Peter Anthony Abaya directed the firm to provide the agency with “updated development plans for the project to be prepared in coordination with the PRA in order to align the project with existing plans and programs of the PRA, particularly the Philippine Reclamation Plan.”

In April last year, the Manila city council passed an ordinance authorizing Mayor Alfredo Lim to apply for the reclamation, effectively repealing a 1992 ban on the project.

The city government also entered into an agreement with Goldcoast on the condition that the city be included in the consortium undertaking the project and will be given an equitable share in the reclaimed land.

The sharing scheme for the consortium will be 70.55 percent for Goldcoast and 29.45 percent for the city, according to the deal.

Goldcoast has applied for an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which is still processing the application.

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  • kayanatwo


    nobody asked me, but…..the people who are residing in las pinas and around  tambo, paranaque should start looking for a higher ground to put their houses onto.  if the “reclamation” of the whole manila bay seafront came into fruition, there would be more flooding in low lying area around the wetland of manila bay.

    ondoy’s induced flooding would look like a puddle for comparison.

    • KpTUL

       Nobody asked me as well… And i cant help but ask you this question, Where did you get your facts regarding flooding ? These are induced by heavy rainfall from land and not from the areas reclaimed. I adore your concern but your stup*idi*ty is just so irritating. Moreover it is not the entire manila bay that is to be reclaimed. Please stop polishing your naivete on the net. And if you wanna blog next time please bring with you some facts and not science fiction form agimat movies.

      • kayanatwo


        nobody asked me, but…pls. reread my comment again, in re…”reclamation of the whole manila bay sea front”–it meant the shoreline.  

        do you remember how large was the bygone salt pond in las pinas.  those salt ponds used to be where the inflow from manila bay went during high tide. and when manila bay was on low tide the remaining salt water left on the salt ponds dried up to be harvested as sea salts.

        the last flood caused by ondoy / sedong / helen et al that submerge roxas blvd. was due to surge that went over top the baywalk. remember????

        do you know that half of “maynilad’ used to be a swampy area, and part of luneta park was a reclaimed land from the manila bay?  the old atlantic gulf and pacific (the company is still going strong in bauan, batangas)  during the early part of 1900 was one of the engineering firm that dredge manila bay and erected the sea walls to contained manila bay.

        but the infos above are too much for you to comprehend. my advise to you is, to get a refund for tuition fees from your school. it seems to me that you did not learn much while at school.

    • Jason Cruz

      Blame it on squatters.   PERIOD.  !!! 

  • kevinmcn

    Will these developers add new infrastructure? Roxas Blvd., Sucat, Coastal are already overused, adding something like this that requires people to get to & from there, people going to work there, people leaving to work in other areas of Manila. It’s fine for them to put it in, but make them pay to improve the roadways which will access it. make them pay to connect it to the LRT.

  • Rene V

    any studies if the reclaimed area can stand an intensity 8 quake?

  • kismaytami

    “We will have our own renewable power supply plus recycling and treatment of water and waste”, the big fat lie coming from a chink…

  • Charles Lynel F. Joven

    what’s there to destroy when the whole Manila Bay’s already dead, from pollution?… wait til the next earthquake comes, and you’ll see that reclaimed area go underwater….

  • troyg318

    what the are these holier than thou protectors of manila bay are saying? it has long been desecrated squatters and scum proliferated where prostitutes and robbers roam around at night, let the developers improve that area it will give more livelihood and it will make manila bay safe beautiful and revive tourist attraction.

  • Jose Miguel Garcia

    How many years have we filipinos been defending our nation against creeping invasion and control by these chinese like Lucio Tan, Danding Cojuangco, Henry Sy, Gokongwei?  Let us take stock of the pattern of our situation in history.

    When we were born as a nation in1989, our status of development, was high among the best nations of the world at that time, in terms of unity, standard of excellence, adaptability and potency in defense.  No better proof of it than when we defended our nation in 1899 against the invasion by the north americans of the United States.  We were just a newly born nation, with meager military resources, and were without any aid from any other nation at that time.  The north americans of the United States were the emerging most powerful nation at that time.  Yet so potent were our defenses that the aggressor forces were unable to break it for many years.  They had to resort to massive kidnappings and extermination of the civilians among us in order for us of the filipino defense forces to give-in to their demand for us to surrender to them.

    Despite of our having lost our physical defenses, we still continued to defend our nation even against other invaders- the chinese at another front.  This was our original Determinant of National Actions.  It was characterized by unity, coherence, high standard of independence, and protective of each other against alien invaders, with a national identity as our bond.

    Around 1924 November, we tried to setup a legal channel of check points for identifying and assessing foreigners entering our country as part of our defense system of checking further foreign infiltration. However, the United States of the North Americans, providing cover to the chinese, quickly dismantled them. An editorial appeared on June 5, 1926 in The Tribune. It made a comment regarding: the chinese making a plaything of our exclusion laws; their out maneouvering us from the start of our border checking operations, making a fool out of us.

    At the same time we filipinos took physical actions in parts of Luzon and Manila to dismantle chinese establishments.  Unfortunately, the U.S. established auxilliary corps of their armed forces- the Philippine Constabulary, blocked our actions.

    We tried to gain control of as much area of our nation as we could against the foreigners. The start of our series of maneuvers thru legal operations with the Retail Trade Nationalization Law in 1954 however, was out-maneuvered by the Chinese.  After we implemented this law, some 8700 of the 10,000 chinese who rushed to get hold of certificate of filipino citizenship papers after 1946, did so after 1954. We filipinos theoretically overrun previously chinese-controlled areas the strategic value of which were at most, negligible. Thus in paper, the number of chinese registered as engaged in the retail trade was reduced and the number of us filipinos engaged in the same business was increased. In reality however, there was no physical difference.

    • Jose Miguel Garcia

      As of 2007 between 80,000 to 100,000 chinese moving covertly inside our main homeland.  This does not include those who have acquired a legal status to displace us filipinos from access to our own source of economic sustenance, and centers of control of our development.  Today, chinese creeping invasion in our main homeland are increasing every year.

      Today, we the bulk of filipinos in general continue to suffer loses against the chinese in legal, business, economic battles. Slowly we are already losing control of direction of development of our political, defense, and educational systems.
      The legal battle of PAL employees against PAL management is a battle that is far from the real problem of our nation.  This is merely a symptom.  What is dangerous is that we filipinos are being lured to slaughter each other: management versus rank and file; leftist against mainstream sector; military against civilians; rich against the poor; business sector versus the labor sector.  In the end, it is all of us filipinos from all sectors who will be the losers.  It is the loss of our unifiying national identity and the meaningful direction and coherent drive from our Determinant of National Actions that has rendered our defense system lacking in basis for defending a nation and therefore has become deficient and open to control by invading aliens.  The sickness of our nation of an Alienation Impotency Dependency Syndrome is getting more serious but subtle until we as a people have no more nation in existence.  The time when the aliens of our nation are becoming the owners and we who are the owners of our nation are becoming the aliens have already started.  The situation of our brother filipinos who are PAL employees is just one of the symptoms.

      To fight this battle against the enemies who are strong and united, we filipinos should reconsolidate back to our base, our national identity when we were born as a nation, and our bond as filipinos in order for us to be united and strong in recovering our wholesome nation.  This time we will have a better chance to win.

    • bagombong

      They know about this, but if you look the reality, Philippine gov’t. is run by Chinese filipino in citizen, some are half half. only 30% is full blooded filipino…meron man pinoy corrupt know what ; blame the guy who asked our independent from Amerika, we should be like Hawaii , Guam and Puerto Rico now..that guy wants us independent is a corrupt pala at that time…that is what we are now.

  • Tamarindwalk

    Wasn’t Harry Stonehill involved with this group?

  • bagombong

    Instead of creating another urban dev’t. along the shore, why don’t do it somewhere going north of Mla.which a higher land is needed to to move population into a higher places.. spending billions of money in shore is not a good idea, gayahin nyo ang Amerika in creating urban planning…we need super hi-ways road to a new urban plan that may move other businesses into that place, Manila is over crowded and traffic is huge, for 1 km ride is 45 min, that is bad..creating a new urban plan should reconsider increasing lot for housing and new system of planning roads…in Maryland and Wash. Dc, they created a new Harbor Bay facing Virgina Alexandria with a $1.5 billion project and it done in 10 years ..they started this proj. year 2001 and were completely fin. 2011. It’s a small city and it really amazing during night.So , we need a new place to divert big companie away from Makati , QC and Manila but not too far from Mla. if roads are wide just like here in Amerika, going to work is a problem, my wife drives 30 miles one way everyday for 40min.that is 48 km. this is we need now in Philippines to create a new business and residential with a new urban dev’t. plan.

  • Javi Brias Arrastia

    This Teng guy is too full of himself. Of course he supports it; he’ll be making millions out of the project! Deport him back to China.  

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