The last breathing space in Manila, Arroceros Forest Park, is under threat

August 16, 2018 - 1:50 PM
2521
Arroceros Forest Park, the so-called last lung of Manila, is threatened again. (Philstar.com/ File photo)

A leader of a private environmental group appealed to the public to help save the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila, the last lung of the capital, after being threatened anew.

Chiqui Sy-Quia Mabanta, leader of the park’s guardian Winner Foundation, claimed on her Facebook post that the place is under threat from developer.

So.. Arroceros Forest Park is under threat again (nasty developers).We (Winner Foundation and Manila Doctors Hospital…

Posted by Chiqui Sy-Quia Mabanta on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mabanta did not specify the developers or the commercial space to be built.

However, many people directed it at the local government’s plan to transform the place into a school gymnasium.

SAVE MANILA'S LAST LUNGIsang panawagan para sa ating mga kababayan, tulungan po natin ang mga environmental groups na…

Posted by Gising Maynila on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In 2017, the environmentalists won the fight against the planned school gymnasium, but reports say that Mayor Ejercito Estrada only deferred it.

Mabanta sought for registered voters in Manila to sign a petition to enact an ordinance to protect the park.

This was in accordance to the Local Autonomy Act, wherein Section 3-A states:

“Every municipality or city shall exert efforts to establish, develop and maintain a permanent forest, tree parks or watershed within public land owned by such municipality or city with an aggregate size equivalent to at least two per cent of its entire area.”

She teamed up with the Manila Doctors Hospital-Corporate Social Responsibility Clinic for this advocacy.

Saving Manila’s last nature reserve

The petition needs at least 1,000 signatures before the concern can be brought to the mayor.

“I am looking for people (registered voters) from the City of Manila (a requirement) to sign this petition to create this ordinance with us,” Mabanta said.

There’s no online version of the petition so people have to send a private message to Mabanta if they wish to help.

“I know it is somewhat a hassle that this cannot be done online. The courts won’t recognize it, so If you want to help, please make the extra effort in printing the signature forms which I can email to you,” she explained in another post.

She added that they still have a long way to go from the target number, which she hoped to reach before the end of August.

Here are some of the photos of flora and fauna found in the park.

Manila’s last lung

Arroceros Forest Park is a natural reserve at the heart of Ermita, Manila that lost 70% of its once lush trees over the years.

However, in 2007, they lost the battle when the now-dilapidated Park and Ride Building and City Department of Education building were built during then Mayor Lito Atienza’s time.

The park was originally a 2.2 hectare land bought by former Mayor Alfredo Lim in 1992 for P60 million because he wanted to provide a place for Manila residents to have a breather amid the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Former Department of Education chair Alejandro R. Roces said in a column that 60 different types of species of Philippine trees were planted that time, wherein 10 kinds of birds had nested.

“It became an oasis in the midst of the city’s concrete jungle, a place where nature and civilization melded into one,” Roces wrote.

To create Lim’s vision, the land was leased to Winner Foundation to develop the park.

The Arroceros Forest Park was established with the help of the Manila Seedling Bank, the Bulacan Gardens Corporation and landscape architect Wilfrido “Doy” Dizon who provided the design.

If you wish to help save Manila’s last forest, you may email Mabanta at chiqui.mabanta@gmail.com or message her on Facebook so that she can send you the petition if you are willing to help.