We have two readers who deserve some space. The first is Juan José Berenguer-Testa of Mondial Tours and Travel, who found time to share his thoughts about tourism. Here’s what he says:
“Thanks for the informative developments on tourism. I sure hope all the plans and ideas become a reality some day soon. Allow me to comment on just two points.
“Rizal Park is welcome [to be a] TEZ [Tourism Enterprise Zone], and I pray to God the Rizal Golf Club will give way to a world class park for the pedestrian generation, that will be born in the next 10 years. I have pushed this idea way back in 1988.
“A park, stretching from the Pasig to [Manila] City Hall, will be like what New York, Madrid, or London have. It will help clear the air of Manila, bring the flora of the nation to the capital, and allow more room for the Rizal and Luneta pedestrian crowds.
“We need a golf course in Intramuros? Maybe, a golf club in the center of Manila, helping the famous Manila Hotel, was justified years back. Today the social situation has changed, and our grandchildren will wonder why we failed to provide such a gift to Manila.
“The second point is why our city, Manila, does not have a five-star hotel in the Batangas cost line.
“Cebu and Boracay both have world-class facilities while we in Manila don't even have a single beach resort worth talking about. Casinos, yes!
“I'm sure, with the proper incentives, our taipans will grab the opportunity of not having to fly if you want to swim.
“Well, I hope these thoughts will help you in future tourism chats.
Our second letter-sender is Alex G. Serrano. He suggests a practical scheme to reducing the number of vehicles on Metro Manila’s streets. Please read on.
“With regards our traffic woes, I would like to share with you my idea on how to reduce the volume of private cars on EDSA and other designated busy roadways.
“Compared to [the proposed] odd-even scheme ([which would be] quite severe since it effectively bans private cars [five] days a week, and which results in an imbalance during Saturdays being a rest day for government workers), the following scheme for a two-day ban should have less opposition from private car owners, and still result in a reduction of 40 percent of the volume of private cars on the road.
“The daily schedule for the ban based on plate endings is as follows: Monday - 1, 2, 3 and 4; Tuesday - 5, 6, 7 and 8; Wednesday - 9, 0, 1 and 2; Thursday - 3, 4, 5 and 6; and Friday - 7, 8, 9 and 0. There will be no ban on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Traffic enforcers only have to remember four numbers a day, and the private car owners [will have] only two days a week that they are not allowed on EDSA.
“However, should the government decide to implement a two-day ban and still receive much resistance from uncooperative private car owners, then I believe that the government should implement the odd-even scheme, and [this] should be strictly enforced.
Elevated covered walkways
“In addition, I sincerely believe that it is high time for the government to consider the long-time proposal of Arch. Palafox for the construction of elevated covered walkways but on a limited scope (already shared earlier with you).
“The cost of the walkways in the CBDs should be funded by the big companies within the CBDs and the linear walkway along EDSA from Makati to Cubao should be jointly funded by SM, Robinsons, Shangri-La/Rustans, Greenfield District, Starmall and Cubao Farmers.
“At a conservative estimate of P20,000 per linear meter, the walkways per CBD in my opinion should not cost more than P100 million assuming five kilometers per CBD; and P200 million for the walkway from Makati to Cubao assuming a distance of 10 kilometers.
“I believe that this is not much money if the project is pursued through a combined effort of big business establishments for the benefit of all rich or poor – but more for the poor, of course.
“As a civil engineer myself, I am confident that if this project can start within the next three months, it can be finished before next year's Christmas season (separate projects for each CBD and the linear walkway).
“I am confident that if car owners can reach their work destinations from the EDSA MRT3 stations, protected from the rain or the heat of the sun, many of them – especially the millennials and the not-so-old na malakas pa ang tuhod, will leave their cars at home and use the mass transport instead.
“And together with the continuing improvement of the MRT/LRT system, the gradual increase of P2P [point-to-point] buses at strategic routes, the upcoming BRT systems, the streamlining of public bus and jeepney operations, and the cooperation of private car owners (very crucial), these elevated covered walkways will contribute a lot in reducing traffic and lessening the suffering of the commuting public.
Expanded MRT/LRT system
“Of course, for the long term, I am still hopeful that my idea for the expansion of the MRT/LRT system to form a northern loop reaching Bocaue, Bulacan; and a southern loop reaching Sta. Rosa, Laguna; and connector lines within the loops to further service the highly populated areas of Valenzuela, Caloocan, Novaliches and other areas of Quezon City in the north, and Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa and the Molino area in Cavite in the south, will merit the interest of the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority] and the DOTr [Department of Transportation].
“And further into the future, I am hoping for the construction of new railway lines from Subic to Cabanatuan along the existing Olongapo-Gapan road and from Calamba to Batangas City primarily along the STAR expressway, to help decongest Metro-Manila.”