The vision statement of the Manila Bay Environmental Project

Have Filipinos seen the nation’s vision for Manila de Bay? It’s in the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (2006 and beyond) of the Manila Bay Environmental Project. Involved are various stakeholders of the Manila Bay coastal and watershed areas covering the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region III), and the Southern Tagalog Region (Region IV).

The vision statement goes

Manila Bay – reflective of God’s glory – is a clean, safe, wholesome and productive ecosystem, a center of socioeconomic development, and a natural heritage nurtured by genuine Filipino values with regard to better quality of life for the present and future generations.

Reflective of God’s glory…

Maybe it’s me but I’ve a thing against the use of God’s name in vision statements which appears to be the norm around here. Not that I’m an atheist but because its use is more for effect. Further, since nothing’s been done so far (since 2006) to preserve “God’s glory” in the Bay, the use is the very example of “using God’s name in vain” which by the way is a mortal sin. That’s why if the decision was just up to me, I’d delete the phrase from the vision statement (or any vision statements for that matter).

…wholesome…ecosystem…

This I have to hear biologists explain what the fiend is a “wholesome” ecosystem. Unless the creators of the vision meant there ought not to be bathing in the Bay. Or, couples strolling on the beach. Or, flesh mongering on the bayside.

…a center of socioeconomic development…

Technically, this means for socioeconomic development to happen on (or is it, in) the Bay, not on the land around it, right? So then these socioeconomic development activities are the fish pens? Because these are what’s on/in the Bay waters.

If there’s anything accomplished in the vision, it’s development on the bayside. Today though, if the Bay is a wooden chair, I could hear it creaking and groaning under the weight. Has the area reached its natural limit? Is the subsidence around the area an indicator? I think it’s time for this phrase in the vision statement to be assessed for relevance. And for the sake of existing structures and development activities in the area, I think it’s time to tweak the visioning exercise a bit. Maybe visualize a tsunami coming the like of the Indonesian wave that propelled the international community to devise DRR/the Hyogo Framework of Action – what if something like that comes rolling into the Bay? So I guess the best time to strategize is always now, today.

…a natural heritage nurtured by genuine Filipino values with regard to better quality of life for the present and future generations…

Are bodies of water heritage sites? UNESCO, I think this is a good topic for debate under the general heading of “tragedy of the commons”.

And what supposedly are genuine Filipino values? By this, does it mean there are not genuine ones? Like today’s being “plastic” maybe?

Has the Bay contributed to better quality of life for present and future generations? Did “genuine Filipino values” nurture the Bay and so preserved the species connected to it, now and into the future? By the looks of the Bay and the way things are going on there, I don’t think so. The strategies identified in the Project remain just that, statements.

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