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In spite of public uproar, the San Miguel Corporation went ahead with their groundbreaking for their proposed Pasig River Expressway Project (PAREX) on Friday, September 24, just days after it secured government approval.

The project will see the conversion of the historic Pasig River into a 19.37-kilometer road, traversing the city of Manila to Rizal province. PAREX will cost 95 billion pesos to build, and will feature an elevated six-lane expressway.

Urban planning advocates, pro-sustainability architects, and concerned netizens have expressed their objection to the project online, arguing that the Pasig River, once an important transport route during the Spanish colonial period, was an important piece of heritage that needs to be preserved and rehabilitated. The Pasig River is the setting of many Filipino works of art, music, and literature — most notably depicted in the first chapter of Jose Rizal’s novel, El Filibusterismo.

Heritage advocacy group Renacimiento Manila visualized Pasig River’s death by concrete by likening it to the British Rail’s visualization of the Thames River if choked with roads.

Architect and urban planner Paulo Alcazaren also compared the PAREX project to putting “lipstick on a pig”. “This still won’t solve ‘traffic,’ because of induced demand, and we will lose the historic river, its cooling effect, and open space in the name of profit”, Alcazaren wrote on social media.

Aside from being a mere aesthetic issue, it’s also important to note the serious health effects PAREX could pose to those who live nearby.

A petition opposing the PAREX project is making the rounds — feel free to sign here.

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This article, Online reactions to PAREX visualize a Pasig River-less Metro Manila, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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