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The Seaside: The latest ‘in’ place today in Manila
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Rikki Jimenez
Date: 2003-01-05
The latest “in” place now is the Seaside, the long stretch of promenade by the Manila Bay, stretching from the US Embassy compound, just a stone’s throw away from Padre Faura St., until the front of Aristocrat Restaurant along San Andres St. When completed, the entire Seaside will stretch up Quirino Ave., just beside the Manila Yacht Club compound.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza should be commended for this laudable project. Finally, promenaders may now enjoy this long stretch of walk. They now have park benches where they can sit comfortably as they watch the sun set in the afternoons. With the adequate lighting setup throughout the Seaside, those who are romantically inclined can finally enjoy their private time by the bay.

It was an inspired decision to allow the setting up of Cafe Adriatico by the Bay at Seaside. Promenaders now have a place where they can stop for a snack as they watch the sunset. Manila has one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. I love looking at sunsets. As I have a drink or a cup of coffee, I can watch the ships passing by and wait for the magic hour when day turns to dusk and the stars come out in the sky.

In the evening, beautiful lights have been installed along Roxas Boulevard making Seaside quite popular to the public. At night, people go there because they feel safe with all the lights.

The development of Seaside followed the similar beautification of the Rajah Sulayman Plaza in front of Malate Church. A giant fountain has been installed and, at night, with its colored light and dancing water, it has become a popular meeting place and rest stop for the public.

I live quite close to Roxas Blvd. and for the past 10 days I’ve been walking from my place to the Seaside to appreciate its charms. I find the monument to Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson quite grand. Lacson sits on a park bench by the bay, reading a newspaper. Many pedestrians take the opportunity to sit at Lacson’s bench, sometimes using the statue as a rest, or simply posing for photographs with the late Hizzoner’s likeness.

Younger readers may not know Lacson, but he was one of Manila’s most colorful mayors. He served for three terms, and earned the sobriquet as “Manila’s Fightingest Mayor”. Many consider his term as Manila mayor as the best ever.

Some of Lacson’s major projects then continue to be used and appreciated by Manila residents. These include the Manila Zoo, the Quiapo Underpass, the Manila General Hospital (now known as the Ospital ng Maynila), the Manila Stockyard and City Slaughterhouse, Boy’s Town and Girl’s Home and the Youth Reception Center. Because of his illustrious achievements, the Manila Rotary Club, the Manila Lion’s Club and the Manila Chamber of Commerce named him in 1956 Man of the Year, a feat that has still to be achieved by any other local official.

If Mayor Atienza wants to be remembered like Mayor Lacson, then he should make sure that all his beautification projects have the needed follow-through. When a project is planned, it must have a timetable when the project should be completed. It should also have a component for maintenance so that the effort will not go to waste.

I’ve noticed that there seems to be poor maintenance at Seaside. Some of the plants are already wilting. They do not seem to get watered frequently. In the days that I’ve been going here, I’ve only seen them watered once by a firetruck. If this continues, the plants will only die and would need to be changed quite often, which would be just a waste of money. This happened to the greens planted in the center island plant boxes under the LRT that runs along the stretch of Rizal Ave. The plants are changed every three months because they die with lack of maintenance.

Also, the construction of the plant boxes has been haphazard. Some of the marble tiles used have dents and cracks. There are also a number of unused round marble tiles that have been left lying around in a pile. Some of the tiles have already broken into pieces.

There should also be an effort to keep the area clean. Although there are garbage cans around the area, there should also be a watch to keep an eye on the security of promenaders.

Another point to be addressed is the cleanliness of the water in Manila Bay. Because of the garbage, rather than a fresh sea breeze, the promenaders are exposed to foul air. I hope the waters in the bay will be cleaned, not just for the health of the public but also to entice them to stay longer at Seaside.

All of Mayor Atienza’s efforts at beautifying Seaside will go to naught if these little but important details are over looked. It would only mean a waste of money on the part of Manila taxpayers. A god project like this should not be defeated by cleanliness and safety.

* * *

Rizal Province is well-known as the home of National Artist Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco, one of the country’s most popular muralists. A number of visual artists, not to mention craftsmen, make Rizal their home. Francisco and the late Perdigon Vocalan hail from the town of Angono. Danny Dalena comes from Pakil, while the Baldemors — Fred, Angelo and Manny — are native sons of Paete. Francisco’s success surely has been an inspiration for many young artists to pursue their dreams in the arts.

One young artist who is now following Francisco’s example is Jake Katah, who hails from the town of Tanay, also in Rizal by his artist-friend Irvyn Roxas, Katah began his career in the arts in the late 1990s. Since then, he has held his first one-man show at Gallery 318 in Makati City, and has participated in a number of group shows with fellow Tanay artists.

Just recently, Katah mounted his second solo show, “Revelations”, at the Galeria de Nava along J. Nakpil St., in Malate, Manila. I had the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon to the show, along with lawyer Dino Tanjuatco, Anna del Rosario and artist Rene Robles.

On view were 24 paintings, all following Katah’s personal style, which was greatly influenced by such masters as Henri Matisse, Egon Schiele and Willem de Kooning, as well as Filipino expressionist Onib Olmedo. His canvases are surreal, expressionist renderings that fully explore the artist’s playful imagination.

I wish Jake a successful painting career, as well as more solo shows in the future.


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