Land Reclamation is not by any means a new concept. Some truly beautiful and some truly beneficial locations were built on land that was “reclaimed” from the seas and oceans of the world. Land Restoration on the other hand, is a slightly different, albeit related matter that is a newer process but very similar in some regards. Both of these processes share enough in common to be considered, but it is always wise to study every idea and plan thoroughly. In the cases of land reclamation for Metro Manila, it becomes necessary to study both the potential for benefit as well as any and all potential for risk. Both of these methods are put into practice in many locations, but there are still times and occasions when, just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. It all depends on the project that is being considered as well as the location where such a project will be undertaken.
Land Reclamation generally refers to the ability to turn oceanbed or seabed or even bays and/or harbors into dry land. This is plainly evident in Metro Manila where the fort at Intramuros used to be situated right on the shoreline. Much of the construction in the middle east, including a great many resorts, have been built on land that has been reclaimed. Manhattan Island in New York City, which can arguably be considered to be the financial center of the world, was built on reclaimed land, though much of it was also built on a garbage landfill ... in what seems to some a rather bittersweet taste of irony. Around the world, a great many locations have been built for residential, commercial, industrial and even for the purposes of entertainment, all on land that has been gained through Land Reclamation projects.
Further efforts are currently underway to increase the land mass of Manila further by reclaiming more of Manila Bay. This could be either a very good and worthwhile effort or a very bad experience depending on how the project is planned, implemented and managed. On the one hand, it would allow for the entire area to be built utilizing the most modern methods of infrastructure and development, quite literally from the ground up. As such, it should be feasible that this new section of Manila will be relatively free from flooding and at the same time, provide a system for the transportation and utilities mostly underground and with a minimal impact on the new land mass. The land mass above ground could be utilized for residential, commercial and industrial interests while the electrical systems, phone lines, internet connections, water pipes and the drainage system could all be built underground where they would be relatively safe and out of harms way for everything but the most intense of earthquakes ... and even then would be afforded more protection than a great many areas, as the land mass would be built around these structures.
Conversely, such an extension of Metro Manila through Land Reclamation Projects may be a very bad thing if it is poorly designed, planned, implemented or managed. While the same holds true for virtually any project, in this case, the potential harm that the surrounding ecological systems would face would take literally thousands of years to heal, if indeed enough of it survived to begin the healing process. Current efforts of Land Reclamation that are currently being undertaken are also being hotly contested due to the destruction they have caused to surrounding environments and ecosystems, As such, most of the damage that occurs, happens to underwater ecological systems that are so far out of sight and out of mind that very few people pay any real attention. However, given the proximity of the Verde Island Passage to Manila Bay and the vast amount of coral and arguably, one of the most biologically diverse underwater habitats in the entire world, it would seem that this needs to be given substantially more than just passing interest.
The Verde Island Passage is part of what is known globally as “The Coral Triangle” and is home to an extremely diverse biological ecosystem underwater. Central to these ecosystems, as the name should imply, is the vast amount of coral that is growing in and around the Verde Island Passage. Coral takes literally thousands of years to grow into anything even remotely resembling a reef. Add in the vast number of tropical species of fish that make this their home, and add to that the many species that are unique to the Coral Triangle and it is easy to see that this is a vast swathe of nature that needs the protection and care of the people. It would certainly be beneficial to the city and to the people of Manila to have the expansion done through the reclamation of Manila Bay. It would be even more beneficial to have all of the modern conveniences in the form of infrastructure and development, primarily in regards to utilities. However, this project must be planned, designed, implemented and managed in such a way that it does not destroy even more precious, natural resources.