The real deal with reclamation

What do the new airports of Hong Kong and Singapore have in common? Both mega structures are standing on reclaimed land. What about Cotai Strip in Macau and Aseana City in Paranaque? Aside from housing luxury hotels and grand casinos, both are also reclaimed land.
Reclamation is not new in the world, and certainly not new in the Philippines. In fact, part of Taft Avenue and CCP Complex are reclaimed land as well. Simply put, reclamation has been constantly happening throughout the world over thousands of years, from the moment people settled on river deltas.  Reclamation is neither good nor bad in itself -- it is what we do with the reclaimed land that should be considered and discussed.

Artist's perspective of the aerial view of Horizon Manila.

Here are some clarifications regarding reclamation and how Horizon Manila is considering all bases before the commencement of the project: 

FIRST: Environment Impact 
Horizon Manila underwent an arduous Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) application process from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The studies supporting the idea that Horizon will not be subject to liquefaction, flooding, and subsidence were conducted by a team of engineers from UP Diliman. A separate team then conducted environmental surveys and studies in the area for reclamation, which determined that there is no existing coral life on the seafloor in the area of Horizon Manila -- only garbage, silt, and clay.

SECOND: Government Spending

The government, whether it is the Manila LGU or any national agencies, is not spending any centavo for the project. Horizon Manila is purely privately funded. The government owns 51 percent of the project, which includes prime land that it can use for various purposes. Add to that, the government would benefit from the taxes brought about by the uptick in economic activity.   

THIRD: On Flooding

The land, soil, and sand will come from another part of Manila Bay. But the rocks will mostly come from land quarries. But even if both the sand and rocks came from outside Manila Bay, it should be noted that Manila Bay is approximately 200,000 hectares big. The area to be reclaimed is insignificant compared to this. Thus, no flooding would happen in any way as water volume is not increased. With the expertise of two world-class European reclamation contractors – Jan De Nul and Van Oord, which have successfully done massive projects in various countries – Horizon Manila would only observe the best sustainable practices in its land reclamation process. 

FOURTH: Social Equity

Claims that reclamation only benefits the rich are one-sided. The reclamation work to construction phase alone would require at least 15,000 workers, while a complete Horizon Manila is expected to generate employment for 500,000. Part of the masterplan is a vertical mass housing for workers of Horizon Manila. The entire city with its green parks would not only provide critically needed public breathing space for all people but would alleviate crowding in one of the densest cities in the world.

The additional revenue that would be generated from business and real estate taxes could be used by the city for its social programs on education, health, and public service. Since the government is not spending a penny on this development and is set to own 51 percent of the prime developable land, it can sell or co-develop those with private companies. Proceeds from these could also be used for social programs. The government can also use the lands as sites for their own buildings to aid in delivering services to its citizens.

FIFTH: Building Height 
First things first – the claim that only low-rise buildings are allowed on reclamation sites because there is a risk of liquefaction if the structures are too high is absolutely not true.

Restrictions on buildings are dependent on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or CAAP (for height restriction if they are near the airport) and on the LGU (for zoning restrictions as this usually limits the density of a building in terms of Floor Area Ratio – that is how many square meters of total floor area your building can have depending on your lot size). In the case of the Mall of Asia complex, it has both the height restriction and total building floor area restriction.

SIXTH: Manila Sunset View

The Manila Bay sunset views will always be there, whether you are standing on Roxas Boulevard, or on the breakwater of Horizon Manila. In fact, with the new coastline of Horizon Manila and its two Sunset Parks at the westernmost edge, there will be more ways and venues to view the sunset, making it an even more pleasurable experience.