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“Torre De Manila:” The Tower that Rocked Manila

One of the country’s biggest development breakthroughs is in the field of construction. We see towering infrastructures such as semi-sky scrapers and new bridges being constructed not only in Metro Manila but also in big cities like Cebu and Davao. But all of these did not develop without some overlying issues. Take for example a very recent “towering” problem surrounding DMCI Homes, a contracting company. This issue erupted when the company started to erect one of their residential building projects. This became a center of controversy up to today both in social media and government.

Recently, thousands of citizens in and out of Metropolitan Manila from netizens to government officials have been expressing disapproval, aggravation and resentment over a rather peculiar topic, a contentious infrastructure.  Since late 2014, the construction of a now 46 floor tower has been subject to controversy not because of its architectural design, nor by a disastrous event, nor because of any contractual funding issue but rather because of its geographical location and some constitutional violations. This particular building is the much detested Torre De Manila.

The Torre De Manila is currently under much flak from local Manila government and the Supreme Court after violating zone requirement laws and land occupancy percentage ordinances. Several restraining orders and suspensions have been filed against DMCI’s construction project and now it is currently under a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court, while hearings are being conducted to resolve this issue in a formal and feasible way.

Overtime, several viable solutions have been proposed. First, mostly by government officials who formally hold the case:

  • Solution One – This quote comes from the rationale of Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing: “Turn the national hero’s monument by 180 degrees so that its new background would no longer include the DMCI Homes condo project.” This proposal was acknowledged by a few chuckles from his co-workers for its infeasibility. Still, this remains a viable solution, argued several lawmakers.
  • Solution Two – A rather more popular suggestion comes from Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe. According to Batocabe, “We ask DMCI to voluntarily demolish the structure. Otherwise, we will be condemned for next generations to come for allowing this monstrosity.” Batocabe adds a remarkable statement: “There’s no ‘Torre de Paris’ obstructing the view of the Eiffel Tower, there’s no Torre obstructing the view of the Taj Mahal in India. This is a national embarrassment… for our generation.” Nothing can be more accurate in addressing the issue than Batocabe’s remarkable statement. This remark also stresses the urgency to either choose which idea to support or to formulate a more attainable resolution.

The structure in question, the Torre De Manila, is located at the heart of Manila, thus the name “Tower of Manila,” where it sits relatively close to the world-famous Luneta Park, the memorial site of our national hero, Jose Rizal. Even though the building’s location is not within the area of the park, it is still the only clearly visible building behind the iconic monument. When one would properly view the monument, the Torre De Manila would appear to be “photobombing” the Rizal Shrine. Many fans of the iconic shrine find the projection of the building to be very displeasing calling it an “eyesore” which violates the historical preservation rights of the monument. This is the primary reason why many Filipinos are enraged and are expressing their frustration through social media posts we see on the Internet lately

Luckily, not all of us are focusing on loathing the Torre De Manila. Not only government officials but also many creative minds have come up with very viable solutions to this issue, such as the solution formulated by the Filipino people themselves:

  • Solution Three- This plan included the relocation of large trees to create a large layer of foliage to cover the sight of the Torre De Manila. But to me, the idea of designing the side of the Torre De Manila facing the monument into an appropriate backdrop for the park is the most effective win-win solution to this dilemma. By implementing this, the Torre De Manila will not only remain an operating and functioning residential building but it will also serve as an added attraction to the park and the monument which can attract even more tourists. Some designs suggested incorporating either the Philippine National Flag, the iconic portrait of our national hero Jose Rizal, or the authentic signature of Rizal accompanied by his other symbolisms such as the pen and paper and 3 gold stars. The moral of this idea, is instead of destroying or concealing the problem, why not think outside the box and create over the problem until it becomes a solution? This principle is what makes the most reasonable answer.

Being an art and history enthusiast, no more emphasis can be added to the sensibility and viability of the idea of designing over the Torre De Manila to make it a suitable historical background for the Rizal Park. Regardless of the design, as long as it is very appropriate for the monument and the park, it would most undoubtedly work well.

All it takes for this vision to become a reality is the cooperation and collaboration of the many government officials working on this case and the DMCI Homes Executives with the support of the Filipino public. This solution is what should be promoted in various media such as news, Internet and print media in order for the proposition to gain attention and eventually support which will lead to its eventual implementation. But for now, we can only wait and see, among the buzz and pandemonium caused by this issue, whether the tide turns to our favor so that we can help save a national cultural treasure.

In its greater heights, the now called “Pambansang Photobomber,” Torre De Manila remained true to its name “Torre,” which in Spanish means tower, by “towering” over in public attention. Having said that, there is no doubt that Torre De Manila is certainly the tower that rocked Manila.