Despite the challenges and limitations brought about by the pandemic, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has finally reopened the Manila Bay Dolomite Beach on June 12, in conjunction with the 124th observance of the Philippine Independence Day.
The reopening of the 500-meter beach along Roxas Boulevard in Manila City was led by former DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna, former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año.
“After this eventful yet arduous journey that started on January 27, 2019, we have kept our bearing unbroken and soldiered on to make into a reality what doubters thought to be not achievable. The journey has been a story of swift rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic and resurgent optimism as the country welcomes the leadership of President-elect Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr.,” Sampulna said.
He expressed optimism that the rehabilitation of Manila Bay would continue even after the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
“This stretch of the Manila Bay is now a far cry from the stench and garbage-filled shore associated with it,” Sampulna noted, as he pointed to the dolomite beach marker that was carved out from a dolomite boulder measuring 8-10 feet long and 5-7 feet high.
Seen at the beach entrance is the boulder’s front elevation with the “Battle for Manila Bay” photo marker, while at the rear elevation is the “Dolomite Beach Project” marker showing before-and-after photos of the beach.
“Now the breeze is refreshing, the bay is much cleaner, and we have this beach, helping restore the bay and its shoreline to its historic glory,” Sampulna said.
He pointed out that the successful rehabilitation programs for Manila Bay and Boracay Island resulted from the political will of the Duterte administration to push for its environmental agenda.
Referring to his predecessor, Sampulna addressed Cimatu as the “mastermind” behind the Manila Bay and Boracay rehabilitation programs.
He assured the 300 visitors during the reopening event that the end goal is to make Manila Bay swimmable soon.
“For now, we can only visit the Manila Bay Dolomite Beach. To make it swimmable is an enormous challenge to Secretary Sampulna or whoever will be the next secretary,” Cimatu said.
“Eventually, this will be swimmable. That’s what is lacking, we can’t say that we have completely accomplished the bay’s rehabilitation, as what the Supreme Court has said, ‘make this swimmable,” said Cimatu.
Año also expressed confidence that the Manila Bay rehabilitation program “faces a bright future” under the new leadership, including that of the Manila local executives headed by Mayor-elect Honey Lacuna-Pangan.
The Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach is open for strolling and picture-taking from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It can accommodate 1,500 to 3,500 individuals at a time, except on Thursdays when it will be closed for cleaning and maintenance work.