It was in the song “Anakng Pasig” that the writer cries about the people’s maltreatment of Pasig
River. True enough the former life of Metro Manila was destroyed by the
industrialization and boom of poor urban population. It’s far from how Rizal sees
the river in the El Filibusterismo. In chaprer one of the novel the steam ship Tabo was passing the
river from Manila going to Laguna de Bay. On board were folks from all walks of
life during the Spanish period. With the debate on going, the people stopped
and were mesmerized by then striking houses, owned by the rich, built on the banks of Pasig River. Nowadays
these houses seen by Rizal were replaced by factories, oil depot and barges in the name of
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel they say. This holds trie with the ongoing rehabilitation being conducted by some NGO. The Pasig River will soon be a passable river for human
movement and activities.
True enough the MMDA or the Metro Manila Development
Authority re-opened the Pasig River ferry last April of 2014. the once closed river now again transports people from Pasig and Makati to Manila. It’s far from what Rizal’s depiction in his novel but
the gesture of the MMDA is a good start.
From Guadalupe in Makati we entered the ferry station and
paid the Php50.00 fare going to Plaza Mexico in Manila – the last station. Fare
ranges from Php30.00 to Php50.00. There are seats in the waiting area for
passenger waiting to be on board. After a while we were called by the an MMDA personnel
and asked us to board the “Bus Ferry”
The Bus Ferry is a tag boat that is converted into a bus like vehicle to accommodate
passenger. It can accommodate 35 seating people, up to 45 when standing. According to an MMDA personel on board, the tag boat turned bus ferry will soon be relplaced by a more condusive boat for human use. Bus ferry is not bad though.
The Bus Ferry is far from the previous ferry that runs in the
Pasig river years ago. I had the opportunity to ride the 150-seater white ferry
before the operation was shut down in 2008 (?) due to losses. The previous ferry that run in Pasig
River has air-conditioning just like the 11 station it stops. With fewer people
riding the ferry then, it was predictable that it will be closed. And it
Accorring to Rappler MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said, “Smaller boats are easier to load, to fill up compared to 150. It took so long to leave, that’s why they didn’t earn before,Jumbo jet yung dati, eh domestic airport lang ang bababaan, so hindi makapuno”
When the ferry moved I had some apprehension about
the trip. Stinky smell might suffocate us in the middle of the journey or the
filthy smell might stick in our clothes. Contrary to what I was expecting, the smell
wasn’t bad and my clothes smelled the same when we reached Plaza Mexico!
According to the MMDA personnel that I
interviewed, Pasig River is not stinking during the months of December to
February. But come summer, passenger might experience the polluted river bad
face. Actually, years ago when I tried the air-conditioned ferry, the stinky
smell of the river entered the ferry although it was closed. That was summer and that was
a years ago. With the rehabilitation efforts of the government and some NGO’s I
hope that in summer Pasig River will still be good for commuting.
It was raining when we left Guadalupe but the god of the
rain and god of the sun talked so the rain stopped. Good thing though because
I was able to go out and see the surroundings while we cruise in the Pasig
River. There are a lot of factories, oil depot and barges on the banks of the river. That
is a given fact because the river serves the drainage of these factories. I haven’t
researched yet if there is a moratorium or if these factories are beinf regulated. In Makati
area one will see a lot of developments, condominium specifically like the Acqua
of Century Properties and the urban developments of Ayala properties in Sta. Ana – the Circuit
A PSG boarded the ferry before we pass by Malacanang One notable landmark along the Pasig River is the Malacañang Palace. Before you reached Mabini Bridge, a PSG will board the ferry. Taking
pictures after the Mabini Bridge is strictly prohibited due to security reasons The Presidential Palace is for your eyes only. You cannot cheat because there
are camera’s all over aside from the fact that there is a PSG watching you.
Once you pass by Quezon Bridge (yes the one in Quiapo and Lawton) you will see the rich heritage of Manila. Many iconic buildings are built on the banks of the Pasig River. Very famous is the Post Office Building fronting the Escolta Station. After Jones Bridge you will see the controversial building of El Hogar fronting Plaza Mexico Station.
You may ask why I did the Pasig River Ferry. You just can’t neglect what we have because of the popular stereotype thinking about the Pasig River Ferry and the Pasig River itself. Which I am guilty as well. Commuting in the Pasig River is a beautiful experience! Its a different experience that needs to be develop by the stakeholders – and that is us. The action of the MMDA is a hope for the river and hope to life. There are still more rooms for improvements and I would like to believe that MMDA is thinking of improving it. They may be just a catalist in bringing glory to the Pasig as this is also an opportunity for private entity.
I may not see what Rizal saw in Pasig River. Seeing the river alive with booming and sustainable economic activity is enough for me. I would like to believe that there is hope in the river… to see life again in the Pasig River.