How to wreak havoc on a placid place

Published October 1, 2019, 12:18 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Elinando B. Cinco
Elinando B. Cinco

Residents of two adjoining communities in Paranaque City dread the day when their homes get turned upside down.

Some 8,500 residents of the United Hills Villages and the United Paranaque Subdivision-2 – many of whom have been living in their house for nearly six decades – cringe in fear for that day when all sizes of heavy equipment will swoop down on their community.

The objective: To make way for the planned FTI tunnel that will cut across the heart of their 57-year-old neighborhood. Not only that – a one kilometer station will also be built on the overhead ground, parallel to the subterranean passageway.

A press statement given to this writer reads in part, thus:

“The natural serenity of the community was jolted on August 14, 2019 by the DOTr & JICA’s Filipino consultants’ presentation that the proposed FTI Subway Station will be located 70 meters inside the United Hills Village from the East Service Road extending about 1 kilometer from Cucumber Road to Marian Road II, an estimated area of 4 hectares to be acquired by the government for construction and later mixed-use development.

“The Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed amendment to the Sept 2017 NEDA-approved Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP Phase 1) stone-heartedly states:  Displacement of residents within the development area for the project is presumed.  (page 2-29)    The proposed land acquisition will reduce the land area (est. 20 ha) of United Hills Village by approximately one-fifth and the number of households (est. 650) by 35%.  United Hills will significantly be broken up in terms of land and residents.  Key informant interviews suggest that most of the affected households, especially near East Service Road, have been residents for 40 years or more and quite a number of whom were pioneer households…  6,000 schoolchildren of the Dr. Arcadio Santos National High School will be displaced. The barangay hall would have to be relocated.  (pages 2-328-329)

“The DOTr caused the cutting of all the trees in the FTI-GMTFM forest nursery in the middle of this year to accommodate the elevated Skyway and bus terminal.  If the kilometer-long FTI Station is constructed as proposed, the majestic acacia trees at the Philcox compound will be killed.  About 200-250 homes will be demolished.  An estimated 140 non-residential structures would be impacted directly or indirectly.

“Disturbing the clay adobe soil between FTI and East Service Road and constant vibration might cause movement in the nearby fault-line.   The community will experience a grief that will certainly manifest itself in the howling hallows of the subway tunnels.  Its spirit will not be silenced until it finds justice.”

Indeed, a painstaking statement, if anyone asks me.

It was in the early 1960s that a young American and former GI, named Harry S. Stonehill – who chose to settle in the country and later became a trail-blazing businessman – saw the crying need of every Filipino to own a house-and-lot package of his dream house. And he went on to provide that dream.

Initially, only a few were takers even at P28 per square meter for a house-and-lot package, with a 300-square meter lot, and on installment basis, at that.

And Barrio Ibayo it came to be called. With its “isolated location,” even the letter carriers possessing the sturdiest pair of legs refused to deliver the mails.

By 1962, some 35 family-homeowners braved the odds in the area, and organized and registered their homeowners association called United Hills Association.

Today the three phases of UHV and United Paranaque Subdivision-2 have a combined population of 8,500 residents, distributed as follows: 3,000 UHV, 3.000  Malugay and Makati/South, 2,000 UPS-2, and 500  East Service Road. Their professional ratio, 35 percent seniors, and 65 percent middle-age professionals and businessmen.

Most of these homeowners have their house-and-lot as their only piece of property in life, and it frightens them to watch the horizon looming with threats of government expropriation.