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Torre de Manila

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Topics: Manila, Philippines
Torre de Manila: The biggest Photobomber

“To foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open a book that tells of her past.” These wise words were said by our Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Indeed, one has to ponder on the past in order to determine what future is ahead. Although it may not be the case when the Manila City government issued the building permit for the DMCI Homes, the developer of the most controversial Torre de Manila, who is dubbed as the “biggest photobomber” when the 46-storey condominium was built on the line of sight of the historical monument of Dr. Jose Rizal which is situated at the Luneta Park. The construction of the Torre de Manila condominium project is one of the most controversial issues that the Manila City government is facing right now. The issue arose when the Knights of Rizal asserted that the project ruins the panorama surrounding the Rizal Park, the Rizal Monument in particular. The KOR (Knights of Rizal) lodged a case in the Supreme Court against the project developer, DMCI Homes and a temporary restraining order has been issued prohibiting the latter from continuing with the project. Heritage groups and conservation societies have sided with the KOR. On the side of the developer, DMCI maintained that it complied with all the legal requirements for the construction project, and that all permits required by law were dutifully obtained prior to construction of the project. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports DMCI, and it has asserted that the intervention of the judiciary in an infrastructure project of this magnitude does not encourage local and international confidence in the Philippine business environment. I believe that as a symbol of the Filipino people and of the country’s independence, the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal must own the landscape. I also think that the Torre de Manila really destroys the view of the historical monument. As I compared the photo before the condominium was built and the photo right now, I could say that the condominium is really the biggest photobomber. The monument should be the central focus of the landscape when someone takes a picture of it, but instead, the condominium destroys the view of the monument. I also find the opinion of Manila Congressman Amado Bagatsing to have the monument be turned to face Taft Avenue absurd because even after it has been built, the monument has never been moved, even the Japanese occupation forces in Manila did not alter the monument during World War II, so why should we move it just so a condominium, whose permit is still questionable, be built? The permit of the said building is indeed questionable because it violated the zoning ordinances of the city government of Manila aside from existing guidelines on monuments when it proceeded with the construction. It also violated the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ guidelines which require that historic monuments should assert visual “dominance” over surroundings by keeping “vista points and visual corridors to monuments clear for unobstructed viewing and appreciation and photographic opportunities”. The project also runs afoul of an international commitment of the Philippines, known as the Venice Charter, which says the “historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work but also the urban or rural setting” that must be preserved and that “no new construction, demolition, or modification, which would alter the relations of mass and color, must be allowed.” Lastly, the project violates zoning restrictions by locating within the “institutional university cluster” reserved for schools and government buildings, as well as height restrictions limiting buildings to floor-to-area ratio of 4 within the zone. The tower has a ratio of 7.79 or “almost six times” the height limit. Thus, I think that the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal should not be moved and should not be adjusted. Instead, the permit of the Torre de Manila should be reviewed and be focused on since its construction is the one that is questionable. As Filipinos, we should uphold our rights to protect the historical monument of our Philippine National Hero.

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