Archive for April, 2012

Pedestrian Oriented Development from Niki Jon Y. Tolentino on Vimeo.

A recent CNNgo survey showed that Metro Manila is the third worst place in the world to drive, with Beihjing and New Delhi getting the first and second, respectively. If it is already worst to be in Metro Manila roads in the view of the motorist, how much more in the point of view of the pedestrian?

You know, the car or the automobile is not the main user of the streets or roads. It has been the people all along. Car is just a medium to transfer people on the streets.

Search for any vintage Manila photo and you’ll see streets packed with people, not with cars or calesas. People animate cities, people make the cities more fun and yes people in the streets makes civic life in the cities more light, if not bearable. Manila used to be walkable, but our frenzy for Los Angeles type of lifestyle made our city fall apart.

It is the pedestrians that determine the livability of the city. Take them out of the picture and you’ll see a chaotic city full of vehicles.

Of all the users of the road, Pedestrians are more vulnerable to road accidents, and more than half of all fatalities involve Pedestrians and sometimes, sidewalks for pedestrians are given up for roads. And more than half of Pedestrian Casualties are Children.

It is much worse to be a pedestrian than to be a driver in Metro Manila. Try crossing the street and you know what I mean. Being in the tropic, the climate is another contributing factor.

Some cities especially the older European ones, now espouse more pedestrian oriented development with an efficient mass transit system. Copenhagen had been doing this since the 1960’s and is one of the most pedestrian oriented city in the world. So how to make a city more pedestrian friendly?

1. Make more efficient sidewalks. Sidewalks are for the pedestrians, not for ambulant or hawkers.

2. Calm traffic speeds in some areas. To prevent potential crashes between pedestrians and vehicles, some areas impose a speed limit to calm the traffic in the area. UP Diliman uses this method.

3. Establish continuous shadings and amenities for comfort. For some congested cities, continuous arcades are done, this is manifested in the streets of Venice or locally, in Avenida, Manila. For some streets, trees are planted to provide shading, air cleansing and sound barriers to the sidewalks. Also, public toilets, benches, street lights and some visual markers like sculptures are being done.

In fairness to Metro Manila, it has a somehow functional sidewalk program but this is implemented in a City to City basis not Metrowide. I think we could do better if we have a comprehensive and Metro Manila wide pedestrian transport development. Walkable City is a good city.


In the battle between erratic Oil companies and Transport Groups, there is always a sure loser. No, not one of them. The loser is as always, the Filipino Commuter.

We have been held hostage when they increase either gas prices or fare prices. When fare prices do not go up, we experience transport strikes.

Also, we are helpless on the sorry state of our Public Transportation system. Every public utility vehicle is a running coffin, since earning for survival is of prime priority than moving people efficiently, anything could be done in the road. It seems the title “Hari ng Lansangan” just legitimized their anarchic activities in the city.

Buses should be the best option for cheap mass transport (in absence of rails) but we actually have an oversupply of buses, especially in EDSA where you can see them running empty, if not half empty. Buses should have an ideal headway of 3-5 minutes, but you can see them begging you to ride them in less than a second. These are also experienced by jeeps at other major roads of the Metropolis. Outside of Metro Manila, we actually have an under-supply of PUVs

Even our Rails are now inefficient, they are congested even at non-peak hours. Yes, rails are cheap at 15 pesos in maximum fairs but to take a person from one end to another, the government usually spends 80 pesos. Our government actually subsidizes 65 pesos. 15 pesos for a long trip now is already free. The tight competition for passengers between MRT and buses makes EDSA buses lower down their fares so low that they lose money.

Public transportation should be a contract of Public Convenience. But by the way Transport Groups hostage us to get what they want and give us a service not worth our limbs and lives, we only suffer silently.

That should not be the case. Like we should get the best from the government, we should also get the best services from the Public Transportation. Absolutely, Filipino Commuters deserve better Public Transportation Systems.

The Ultimate Railway Plan

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Railways, Uncategorized

It just accidentally hit me when I was researching about the Mindanao Railways that during the National Elections of 2010, Vice Presidential Candidate Bayani Fernando promised a fast rail that seamlessly connects NorthRail, SouthRail and the proposed Mindanao Railways via Samar and Leyte and idealistically reduces travel time in the archipelago from days to just hours as a part of his campaign. Being only third year that time, I haven’t yet studied feasibilities yet. That seamless travel is just a foolish dream that has not been thought over thoroughly.

Why is this very impossible?

The distances and the seismicity of the places connecting Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao

The link between Luzon and Visayas

The Link Between Leyte and Mindanao

Yes, the longest bridge in the world is Danyang – Kushang Grand Bridge in China at 165 km. The distance between Sorsogon in Luzon and Allen in Samar is just 20-30 kilometers, Liloan in Southern Leyte and Surigao City is also 20-30 but the Philippine Trench nearby dangerously nearby poses a great hazard should the trench move, there is a great possibility that it could destroy the bridge could it be built.

The Cost of Construction

We have a penchant of getting slow on projects that are of great amount so there, And we are not exactly that good financially. Our whole Railway Plan from Luzon to Mindanao costs between 5-10 billion US$ that’s why we can’t build anything very hard on money at this time.

What could have been more feasible?

He should have pursued NorthRail, SouthRail in Luzon and the North Mindanao Railway Line and then pursued a Express Bus System for those who will depart for Mindanao. Luzon and Visayas, Visayas and Mindanao sea links will still be connected by ferries serviced by fast carriers that can travel the seas faster than the usual vessels. If budget already warrants it, the rapid buses in Leyte and Samar could now be converted into Railways. Mindanao Railways is more priority. Mindanao Railways has been in the plans since 1998 and is positive to get started this decade after the NorthRail has been finalized (You know how fast our government acts, when they say next year, it means next decade). Yes, Mindanao has been dreaming of its own rail as propeller of growth since a peace deal had been forged between MNLF and the Government.


Yes, suck on it, Metro Manila has thousands of roads and streets (City Roads or National Roads), but only 15 was originally stipulated to be the major thoroughfares of the Metropolis. This road network has been with us for almost 70 years already and yes, it predates even the MMETROPLAN that was formulated during the Marcos Regime.

Predicting that the current Metropolis of the 1940’s (Manila, Quezon City + Makati, Caloocan and Pasay) will expand further until it touch the shorelines of Laguna de Bai, Louis Croft, one of the original planners of Quezon City and with Antonio Kayanan, prepared the Metropolitan Throuroughfare Plan of 1945, which proposed the laying of 6 Circumferential Roads and 10 Radial Roads from the old Manila until the Bulacan Rizal Boundary up to the Marikina, unexpectedly, we have been building it from the start of our nationhood. As of now, we have completed 4 circumferential roads, the fifth is getting completed and the last is on the planning proccess.

The Circumferential Roads of Metro Manila

Circumferential Roads, as for their name are roads that enable you to go around the Metropolis seamlessly.

Circumferential Road 1 (C-1) – it starts from Finance Road in Luneta, and it circles up to Ayala Bridge, Ayala Boulevard, P. Casal and the whole of Recto until it finishes in the North Harbor. It links the oldest districts of Manila: Intramuros, Ermita, Quiapo, San Miguel, Sampaloc, Santa Cruz, Binondo and Tondo.

Circumferential Road 2 (C-2) – it starts in the Quirino Avenue in Malate, up to Nagtahan Bridge, to Arsenio Lacson Avenue and ends at Tayuman Road where it meets the North Harbor. It links the outer districts of Manila: Malate, Paco, San Miguel, Santa Mesa, Sampaloc, Santa Cruz and Tondo.

Circumferential Road 3 (C-3) – It starts in the Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Man and goes up to South Avenue and where the south roads terminate at the Santa Ana Race Track. The North segment start at J. P. Rizal and continues to F. Blummentritt, N. Domingo, G. Araneta Ave, Sgt. Rivera until 5th Avenue in Caloocan where it terminates at Navotas Port. This is the first Circumferential Road with parts outside the city of Manila, hopefully the discontinuity will be already connected in the Santa Ana.

Circumferential Road 4 (C-4) – This is more popularly known as EDSA or Epifanio delos Santos Ave. The road starts at the Mall of Asia in Pasay, and goes up to Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Quezon City and Caloocan where it terminates at Malabon. This Circumferential Road stretched mainly outside of Manila and is the busiest road in the Philippines. It once had the widest road until the Commonwealth Avenue expansion.

Circumferential Road 5 (c-5) – This is more known as Pres. C. P. Garcia Avenue. It starts at Las Pinas and Continues to Paranaque, Taguig, Pasig, Quezon City. As of now, C-5 only Stretches until Katipunan Avenue. Construction of a Flyover to link C-5 from Tandang Sora to Luzon Avenue over Commonwealth Avenue. Upon completion of this flyover, C-5 is expected to continue to Luzon Avenue, Congressional Avenue, Mindanao Avenue until it reaches NLEX. As an extention, NLEX segment 9 and 10 will complete C-5 from R-1 to R-10.

Circumferential Road 6 (C-6) – This is still in planning, upon construction it will be called Father Zamora Expressway, after the martyred priest. It will not enter Metro Manila but is expected to bring about faster travel to vehicles travelling around the provinces in the outskirts of Metro Manila like Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna.

The Radial Roads of Metro Manila

Radial Roads are roads that enable you to go in and out of the Metropolis, these roads lead to the provinces beyond the outskirts of Metro Manila.

Radial Road 1 (R-1)– The Radial Road 1 starts at Del Pan Bridge in Manila, continues to Bonifacio Drive, Roxas Boulevard until it reaches Cavite Expressway. Radial Road 1 connects Cavite and Metro Manila.

Radial Road 2 (R-2) – The Radial Road starts at Arroceros in Manila, Continues to Taft Avenue and Quirino Avenue in Pasay and connects to Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite. R-2 connects Cavite and Metro Manila.

Radial Road 3 (R-3) – The Radial Road 3 starts at C-2 in Paco and is known as South Superhighway, and continues to SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) and STAR (Southern Tagalog Arterial Road) to connect Laguna, Batangas and Metro Manila.

Radial Road 4 (R-4) – The Radial Road 4 Starts in Pedro Gil, and continues to Tejeron, and Terminates at J. P. Rizal Avenue in Pateros.

Radial Road 5 (R-5) – The Radial Road 5 starts at Legarda and continues to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard to V. Mapa, Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong until it ends at Pasig Boulevard in Pasig. The Radial Road connects Manila to Pasig City

Radial Road 6 (R-6) – The Radial Road 6 share the same starting street in Legarda with Radial Road 5, but it branches out to Aurora Boulevard which stretches from C-3 to C-5 where it intersects with Katipunan and ends at Marcos Highway in Masinag, Antipolo.

Radial Road 7  (R-7) – the Radial Road 7 starts at Quezon Bridge where it stretches to Quezon Boulevard, Espana in Manila, Quezon Avenue, Elliptical Road, Commonwealth Avenue, Regalado Avenue in Quezon City. The Radial Road 7 intersects with the Quirino Highway Branch of Radial Road 8 to continue to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.

Radial Road 8 (R-8) – The Radial Road 8 starts at Quezon Bridge, but branches from R-7 thru Andalucia, and runs Dimasalang, Laong Laan until A. Bonifacio Avenue and at Circumferential Road 4 intersection, the Balintawak cloverleaf to start North Luzon Expressway until it goes to the Manila North Road. R-8 Branches at Balintawak through Quirino Highway to connect Novaliches to Sapang Palay in Bulacan.

Radial Road 9 (R-9) – The Radial Road 9 starts at McArthur Bridge in Manila and continues to Rizal Avenue from Manila to Caloocan where it continues to McArthur Highway in Valenzuela and Bulacan.

Radial Road 10 (R-10) – The Radial Road 10 starts at the Delpan Bridge and goes north to President Ferdinand Marcos Highway. Radial Road to connects the North Harbor and South Harbor.

As a start, all transportation engineering shizz that I’ll post here will be almost based on this road configuration.

Sources: Arkitekturang Filipino, A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines