ILOILO RIVER IN PANORAMA: The Life and Vein of a Thriving City
Who would not miss the Iloilo City government’s theme, “My River, My Life”? In recent years, there is a renaissance in placing the Iloilo River as the centerpiece of Iloilo City’s development. One of the best preserved rivers traversing a major metropolis, the Iloilo River has seen its ups and downs in generations. But today, one can clearly see the emphasis and attention now being given to Iloilo City’s major artery.
Come and let’s explore why Ilonggos are so proud of our “katahum na suba” (beautiful river).
What’s the Iloilo River?
The Iloilo River is actually an arm of the sea (an estuary) reaching almost 15 kilometers inland, from its mouth at Iloilo City up to the municipality of Oton. The river and its tributaries also serve as natural boundaries among Iloilo City’s districts. The ecosystem of the river is interestingly diverse – it is home to 22 of Philippines’ 35 mangrove species and the rare emerald shrimp species, Metapenaues insolitus.
What went before?
Taking a drive along General Luna Street, you will see that establishments turned their backs from the river. It’s as if the river does not exist. Instead of taking advantage of the beautiful view of the rivers, these structures built fence or walls thus barring anyone in appreciating the river. Some commercial establishments even impeded the natural flow of the river.
Years ago, Iloilo River was cluttered with so many fish pens, illegal makeshift structures, and even garbage. Increased dumping of wastes in the river had severely affected the quality of water in it. The river was closed to dying.
A major change in view
Today, a simple walk along the river’s banks will tell you something dramatically changed. A major percentage of these “clutters” are now gone – cleaned up, removed or relocated elsewhere. Major resistance has been felt; but political will and the love for the river prevailed. River clean-ups became a habit among Ilonggos. Unsightly boats or derelict ships parked in and around Muelle Loney were removed. Dredging and removing the silt is being implemented. Replanting the mangroves became a usual event in the river. Most informal settlers are now relocated to decent housing facilities provided by the government.
Through the concerted efforts of the city government, volunteers, environmentalists, and partner organizations, a new life was breathed in to the Iloilo River. A new lease to life I can say.
What prompted the change? Maybe environmental hazards or even climate change issues. But for me, it’s the love for the river. Love for the beauty and its heritage, how it molded what Iloilo City is today. A reality that we must coexist with the river amidst the fast urbanization of the city.
Efforts Awarded and Recognized
The success story of these efforts caught international attention, thus major awards and recognition had been given to our city. The Iloilo River Development Project bagged Gold or excellent citation in the natural category of the 2010 International Awards for Liveable Communities (Livcom) that was held at the Hilton Hotel, Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois, USA on November 4-8, 2010. It also got a Silver Award in last year’s LivCom in Songpa, Seoul, South Korea, October 27-31, 2011.
The efforts of the city government was also recognized by Rivers of the World (ROW) Foundation, a global group dedicated to restoring and protecting rivers and streams around the globe.
Even in national spotlight, the Iloilo River Development Project has served as a model for other cities in cleaning up and revitalizing their rivers.
What’s in store for the Iloilo River?
With the 1st Philippine International River Summit being held at Iloilo City, the river once again takes center stage. From May 30 to June 1, environmentalists, foreign dignitaries and officials, local government officials, and non-government organizations will come together to discuss and share expertise in river management.
Foreign guests and speakers include Takahiro Sasaki, chief of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Victorino Aquitania, executive director for Southeast Asia of International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI), President Fred Eisenberger of the Canadian Urban Institute, and Chief Minister YAB Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Bin Mohd Rustam of Melaka, Malaysia. Other expected foreign delegates, such as scientists and environmentalists, will come from France, Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal and China.
Secretary Jesse Robredo of DILG, Secretary Jesus Paje of DENR, Senator Franklin M. Drilon, and Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman of the Metro Pacific Investment Corp and PLDT are also attending this event.
The Iloilo River Esplanade Project will be finished in months – giving Ilonggos and foreign visitors alike the chance to enjoy the scenic view of the river. The esplanade project, extending from Diversion Road to Carpenter Bridge at the Mandurriao side of the river is envisioned to be a main shopping and dining strip.
Another plan was revealed this year regarding the plans of the Department of Tourism to set up cruise in the river. A floating restaurant perhaps? One will surely reconcile the scenic view, the fresh breeze, and delightful food in visiting the river then.
ILOILO RIVER IN PANORAMAS
These are my shots of the Iloilo River, enjoy the view and fall in love with it. Be proud, not only as an Ilonggo but as a Filipino. This is our river. Our Life.
Tags: Iloilo City, Iloilo River, Metro Iloilo - Guimaras
With tall skyscrapers at its background, the Iloilo River is now ready to meet the challenges of urbanization.
With its people and leaders working together to support the river, surely the river will not only survive but will definitely thrive. A sight to behold in this awakening of the Queen City of the South.