An opportunity to modernize Parañaque

 If EDSA has become known as “carmageddon” (or the Armageddon of cars) because of the horrible traffic, Sucat Road AKA as Dr A Santos Avenue in Parañaque easily qualifies as zonageddon or the Armageddon of zoning.
If the concept of zoning had ever crossed the minds of Parañaque officials, that must have been in the distant past. Since then, no one has bothered to exhume the zoning plans from the archives.
Where else can you find on one stretch of road, three SM branches — SM Sucat, SM BF and SM Hypermart — two Pure Gold supermarkets (plus a third inside BF Homes), a WalterMart facility, a Virra Mall branch, a Lianas supermarket and a Shopwise supermarket, on top of ad hoc wet markets or talipapa, three hospitals, several schools and colleges, including Olivarez College, a branch of virtually every known bank in the country, dominated by several branches of Banco de Oro, multiple branches of every conceivable fastfood chain, in addition to several restaurants, two memorial parks, and who knows how many shops providing all kinds of services, from car repair to cargo forwarding to money remittance, some factories, plus an Elorde sports center – and all these on top of several subdivisions, including BF Homes and the San Antonio Valley subdivisions, plus churches (and two more supermarkets) in the residential areas.
And, oh yes, further down Sucat Road, there is NAIA One and a short distance from there is NAIA Two.
The result is a chaotic traffic situation to rival EDSA. Worst of all, the Parañaque city hall is located in San Antonio Valley One, just off Sucat.
As if this is not bad enough, vehicles (including trucks) wanting to avoid the traffic on Sucat take what they foolishly think is a short cut to South Superhighway by driving through San Antonio Valley into Better Living Subdivision to Bicutan (which qualifies as zonageddon part two, SM also has a Bicutan branch).
But wait. It gets worse. Maynilad, the water provider, has been digging up Sucat Road and the subdivision streets and has not bothered to do a decent patch up job on their diggings.
But wait. It gets much, much worse. The Parañaque city government has been allowing Maynilad to get away with it.’
I remember Sucat Road in 1968 when my wife and I built our house in San Antonio Valley 8. Back then, there were salt beds along the rutted, cogon-lined stretch, the beach resorts near Kabihasnan were still the destination of choice for company excursions, one could actually safely swim in Manila Bay and one could also buy freshly-caught fish from fishermen bringing in their early morning catch. This was before the full-scale reclamation project along Roxas Boulevard. South Superhighway was just being built.
When the Parañaque municipal building was moved from the town proper to San Antonio Valley One, we welcomed it because of the convenience the new location offered.
That was many decades ago. What has happened to Parañaque and the Sucat Road area epitomizes the horrible state of public infrastructure in the country. It’s like having a grown man still struggling to fit into a pair of pants made for him when he was a little boy.
It serves no useful purpose to heap the blame on the current Parañaque government for a problem that began years back and became progressively worse over several municipal administrations and, subsequently, several city administrations (the town became a city in 1998).
In fact, I think that the situation is a golden opportunity for the current mayor, Edwin L. Olivarez, to imbue real meaning to his much-advertised slogan, Serbisyo Lang Po (with the letter “e” in “Serbisyo,” the letter “l” and the letter “o” in “po” highlighted to spell the mayor’s initials).
Olivarez has an opportunity to add genuine meaning to an otherwise clumsy attempt at self-promotion – the opportunity to modernize Parañaque city, to make it look even more modern than Manila, Makati, Taguig, Las Piñas or Pasay City.
Olivarez should move city hall out of the terribly congested Sucat Road neighborhood and transplant it in the reclamation area now populated by plush casinos and the humongous SM Mall of Asia, the new entertainment and cultural hub of Metro Manila, located right within Parañaque’s jurisdiction.
Frankly, this is a solution to a disgraceful zoning situation that should have been attended to by mayors past. But they did not. Now Mayor Olivarez has a chance to prove that he is a much better visionary than his predecessors.
For months, all kinds of patchwork solutions have been conceived to ease the Sucat Road traffic problem, but it took an appeal on social media by my eldest son, Ringo to prompt me to pursue this matter. He is the only member of my immediate family still occupying our old house in San Antonio Valley 8 and every day he has to suffer the torment of negotiating Sucat or Bicutan traffic to get to his job in Taguig.
This is what my son posted on Facebook: “Mayor Edwin Olivarez – It’s high time to think about the worsening traffic situation in San Antonio Valley. This is only going to get worse. Maynilad projects have no end in sight and have left our roads in shambles, traffic volume will never go back to manageable levels, and Sucat is now a major thoroughfare. Short term solution is getting Greenheights to allow passage to vehicles for those going towards SM Sucat and beyond, and Barangay Village allowing passage for vehicles headed towards the highway to free up San Antonio Avenue. Long term solution is to start considering relocating the Paranaque City Hall somewhere in the reclamation areas. Having it in Valley 1 was okay back in the 70s-80s. This is no longer feasible. The new rubber humps at City Hall and San Antonio Church serve no purpose except to slow down what already is a crawl through congestion, potholes, and badly made concrete humps. (And by the way, do we really need that many to begin with?).”
Opening up the subdivisions to public vehicular traffic was one of the short-term solutions conjured by Sec. Art Tugade which met stiff resistance from homeowners, especially in the exclusive villages. At any rate, it really is a band-aid solution to an infrastructure deficit problem.
But the idea of relocating Parañaque city hall to the reclamation area, ahead of Pasay City, (which also has jurisdiction over parts of the area) would be a coup. It would also be a lasting monument that will bear Olivarez’s name. It would be a shame if the mayor does not get this done during his tenure.
(gregmacabenta@hotmail.com)

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