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Taguig: Moving Forward to A

Premier Waterfront City

Grace C. Edralin-Servino1
Co-Author: Prof. Honorio T. Palarca2

Abstract

Challenged to improve living conditions and to become sustainable amidst rapid


urbanization, the City of Taguig in Metro Manila must first achieve a balance of the
urban built-up area and the natural environment. Following on the set of plans and
vision of the local government unit of the city, the proposal is to transform it to become
a premier waterfront city with enhanced green and water system on the lower portion
and mixed-use, high-rise buildings on the higher ground thereby optimizing land and
water resources while addressing major problems such as flooding, congestion and
housing. To reduce urban heat, more surfaces must be permeable and covered with
plants including building envelope and most open spaces. Through active leadership of
the local government, people participation and cooperation of private developers, the
waterfront developments can become the centers of recreation, landmarks with civic
identity, plazas of social change and economic growth, and primarily the core of
environmental regeneration.
Illustrating the conceptual design, site usage and community impact of the green
and water systems, this study will serve as a guide to future developments in
establishing a premier waterfront community that will be highly livable, functional,
pleasing and safe for humans and nature.

Keywords: Taguig City, waterfront city, lakefront, riverfront, flood control system,
flood damage reduction

1. Introduction
Cities have often located near a body of water such as the case in Metro Manila
where cities are adjacently situated near Manila Bay, Pasig River and Laguna Lake.
Water has been the source of life for the Filipinos, a part of their rich history and
identity symbolic of their nation. But water has also been a destructive force in these
cities especially during heavy rains and floods. How do we redesign cities then to gain
more benefits than damage from water resources?
1.1.Methodology
To arrive at a possible solution in terms of landscape intervention, a study was
made in Taguig, one of the cities in Metro Manila directly adjacent and affecting the
Laguna Lake. The current flood control measures of Metro Manila was investigated.
The analysis of the site was based on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
                                                                                                                         
1
University Research Associate and Candidate for the Master of Tropical Landscape Architecture at the
College of Architecture, University of the Philippines Diliman. Email: gcedralin@gmail.com
2
 Lecturer at the College of Architecture, University of the Philippines Diliman. Email:
noritpalarca2@yahoo.com.  
Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

(SWOT), zoning map, strategic concept plans of Taguig City, resolutions of Laguna
Lake Development Authority, satellite images, site visits, interviews, research on
similar cases. The output of the study resulted to a more focused vision, concepts,
design features, guidelines and recommendations primarily in terms of urban landscape
design solutions. The succeeding chapters discussed some of these findings, and after
which highlighted the uses of the green and water systems in the City.

2. Metro Manila Flood Control System


Laguna Lake, the largest inland body of freshwater in the Philippines, serves as a
main reservoir for floodwater with its watershed spanning 14 cities and 17
municipalities including Metro Manila. It has a surface area of 900 km2, average
volume of 2.25 to 3 billion m3 during rainy season, with a retention time of 8 months, a
shoreline of 285 km and watershed population of more than 6 million. When Typhoon
Ketsana (known in the Philippines as Ondoy) struck in September 2009, the water level
of the lake reached its highest flood elevation of 14.62m flooding many communities
adjacent to it.
The lake is threatened by rapid population growth, land conversion, water
pollution, and over fishing. With no municipality with a sewerage system, pollution is
carried as surface run-off while polluted waters from rivers such as Marikina and Pasig
also flow into the lake. Results of the water quality monitoring indicated that 4 out of 15
(27%) rivers draining into the lake are highly polluted in terms of biological oxygen
demand (BOD) and dissolved oxygen (DO). All the 15 rivers monitored exhibit high
fecal contamination exposing to health risk about 2.7 million population.
The Manggahan Floodway was constructed to divert floodwaters from Marikina
River into Laguna Lake. The maximum floodwater it can carry is 2,400 m3/sec which is
less than the floodwater brought about by Ondoy with estimated 3,300 m3/sec. The
Napindan Control Station in Taguig City regulates the outflow of excess lake waters
and minimizes the inflow of saline water and pollution from the Pasig River.
All these flood control system could not anymore guarantee protection against
waters such as that brought by major typhoons. New measures or actions must be done.

3. Taguig City
3.1.Location
Taguig lies on the western shore of Laguna Lake and is bordered by major cities in
Metro Manila. It is bounded by several major roadways, the Circumferential Road-5 (C-
5), Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Kalayaan Avenue, South Luzon
Expressway and Circumferential Road-6 (C-6) which is still under construction.
3.2.History
The rivers and the Laguna Lake offered the pioneers of Taguig who are farmers
and fishermen, fresh water for drinking, irrigation, protection against attack of enemies,
and easy means of travel by native boats. Thus, along the rivers and lake, Malay
settlement sprang up and grew into populous barrios.
3.3.Waters
Taguig has two major rivers that feed the Lake, namely, the Taguig River and the
Napindan Channel bringing all its run-off and pollution. In addition, there are 5 other
minor rivers in the City with 23 tributaries.
3.4.Strengths
From a thriving fishing community along the shores of Laguna Lake, it is now an

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

important residential and industrial suburb of Metro Manila. The construction of the C-5
highway which made the city more accessible and the Fort Bonifacio development
which houses more people, businesses and activities and generates much income have
paved the way for its cityhood.
3.5.Weaknesses
But there is still a marked need for improvement in utilities, especially at the other
side of the C-5 including efficient transportation system, adequate water supply, power
generation, waste management, flood control and housing provision. All these can be
addressed through proper planning, action and management.
3.5.1. Flooding
Taguig is a catchment area for floodwaters with over half of the city within the
flood zone due to low elevation, poor soil permeability, altered natural drainage, and
water runoff from a large geographical area, which has been further aggravated by
recent developments. Laguna Lake’s only outlet to Manila Bay is the Pasig River and its
overflow water inundates 66% of the city area. Water from the Lake with a slow current
will have to travel via Napindan Channel along a 27 km meandering river before
reaching Manila Bay.
Being the second largest city in Metro Manila with 47.88 km2 of land area and a
maximum rainfall of 2,000mm, it can collect large volume of water which if not drained
properly will cause extreme flooding.
During heavy rains and high tide where the sea level is actually higher than that of
Laguna Lake, the Lake becomes saturated spilling out to adjacent barangays in Taguig
flooding them for months. According to Laguna Lake Development Authority, the
water level in Laguna Lake rose by 2 meters or 0.67 a month in 2009 submerging more
barangays on the lakeshore, most parts of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
3.5.2. Housing
Taguig’s population is swelling at a tremendous rate, with 613,343 people in 2007,
and annual growth rate of 3.82% for 2000-07 primarily due to immigration. There is
high demand for basic needs primarily housing provision along with social services.
3.5.3. Transportation
At present Taguig is served only by South Luzon Expressway to the west and
Radial Road 4 (R-4) to the north with C5 in-between. There is limited access to all three
from the most populated regions of the city. Given Taguig’s large area and population,
these few links to regional travel routes are far from sufficient. Within Taguig, only one
substandard roadway, Manuel L. Quezon Avenue, connects most of the barangays,
while most streets are too narrow to handle the current traffic load.
3.5.4. Water, Sewage and Solid Waste Management
The city suffers from inadequate water supply, sewage treatment, and garbage
collection systems. A water quality monitoring conducted in January 1999 by Seastems,
Inc. for the Fort Bonifacio Global City indicated very high coliform levels of 24,000
MPN/100 ml which exceeded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) standards of 5,000 MPN/100 ml for class C waters. The high figure is an
indication of wastewater intrusion coming from domestic sources discharging sewerage.
3.6.Opportunities
Taguig is endowed with a large area and plenty of water resources which are major
components for waterfront development. Another highway, the Circumferential Road-6
(C-6) traversing along Taguig with a scenic view of Laguna Lake, may become a major
access to a lakefront development once completed.

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

3.7.Threats
Similar to other cities, urban sprawl, increasing population and uncontrollable
flooding threaten Taguig City affecting the health of the people and the natural
environment. Unless the government and community will be willing to participate, the
improvement and progress may not be achievable irrespective of financial resources.

Figure 1 - Zoning Map of Taguig


source: satellite map from wikimapia.org overlaid with Taguig Official Zoning Map

4. Government Plans & Vision


4.1.Laguna Lake Master Plan
In the Laguna Lake Master Plan, it sets out a strategy for land and water resource
management to balance regional development and environmental resource protection
around Laguna Lake. In this plan, the Taguig project area is zoned for urban and
industrial uses related to the Lake or establishments for research, education,
environmental monitoring and management and trade.
4.2.Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)
The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) measure puts severe limitations
on the use of lands below an elevation of 12.5 meters, which would include nearly 70%
of Taguig. However, flood control measures may allow the restrictions to be relaxed or
changed. The Board of LLDA may also overlook this measure if development in Taguig
will bring improvement on a regional scale.
4.3.Vision & Mission
The vision of Taguig is to be a premier city, recognized for its quality environment,
people oriented public services and the economic opportunities it offers to its residents.
The approved Taguig Comprehensive Land Use Plan translates the city's vision to be an
"environmentally-sustainable city" into a set of development policies, strategies,
programs and projects.
4.4.Strategic Concept Plan
In the Strategic Concept Plan, new land uses will arise out of those areas made
secure from the flood control system, agricultural land, and the proposed reclamation on
the southern half of the city.

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

4.5.Open Space Areas


Based on the Metro Manila Land Use as of 2007, the land devoted to Open Spaces,
Parks & Roads in Taguig City equates to half of its total land area with 23.58 km2. In
terms of green open spaces in the Official Zoning Map of Taguig (Figure 1), these
spaces are all located on the higher portion of the city while on the lower area which are
more densely populated, no large green open spaces are designated. Even the mandated
10-meter easement along Pasig River and its tributaries are covered with houses and
structures.

5. Refined Vision and Plans


5.1.Waterfront Development
The challenge for Taguig which is urbanizing rapidly is to achieve a balance of
urban built-up area and the natural environment. Following on the set of plans and
vision of the local government unit of Taguig, the proposal is to be a premier waterfront
city with enhanced green and water systems alongside its urban developments,
optimizing its land through mixed use, high-rise buildings to provide a sustainable
environment.
While there are local growth centers identified in the official zoning map of
Taguig, there must be priority developments that will integrate its green and water
systems to the City.
With available water resources, large tract of land and steady financial resources,
Taguig City should be in the forefront of environmental renewal by cleaning up its
network of rivers, canals, wetlands and Lake and by maintaining large open spaces
conducive for plant growth and wildlife habitats amidst its high-density built-up areas
and impervious concrete structures.
5.2.Major Components
There will be 2 major components of the waterfront development: the (1) water
system and the (2) green system. The water system refers to the natural landform or
artificial feature that may contain water such as a river, wetland, canal, pond or lake.
The green system includes all vegetated surfaces including planted easements, riparian
zones, road islands, parks, wetlands, and even building and infrastructure surfaces.
5.3.Water System
Turn water, once a flooding hazard, into an identifiable amenity feature by having
canals, lagoons, ponds and wetlands fully functional in every major development in the
city to prepare for the increasing volume of water brought by heavy rains and climate
change.
Based on the flood hazard map and satellite images, the natural wetlands acting as
retention ponds are identified.
The Strategic Concept Plan incorporates the flood control system of canals and
green open spaces. A system of open canals is proposed to be located parallel to the
ongoing C-6 construction going to Napindan Channel. This will serve as additional
retention and filtration area for surface run-off coming from the upper portion of the city
before going towards the Lake. Another canal will be along C-5 which will catch water
runoff from this road and from the western portion of Taguig. The C-6 canal will be
connected by a pipe passing along along major road in Taguig, Maria Rodriguez Tinga
Avenue, so that water overflow can be pumped and drained to a new water tunnel or
spillway heading towards Manila Bay. Flood control will not aid only Taguig, but all
those cities around Laguna Lake that suffer from flooding.

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

5.4.Green System
Where do we maintain more green spaces in Taguig? Looking into the slope,
physiography, land classification and geomorphology of Taguig, we find the eastern
portion near the Laguna Lake and near the rivers to be retained as green space. These
are mostly freshwater marshes or alluvial landscape, transition zone between land and
water thus prone to seasonal flooding.
The whole eastern side, which is the lowest portion of Taguig as situated on the
flood plain must be reserved for more green spaces mixed with water elements than
built-up land. The residents guided by the LGU must continue to plant every surface
that can be planted on starting in their own house and lot.
5.5.Functions of the Green and Water Systems
Floodwaters will be directed to the green and water systems and away from
buildings. Meanders and plants reduce water flow that is destructive to lives and
properties.
Presented in conceptual plans for flood control system in the cities surrounding
Laguna Lake is shown in Figure 2 – Conceptual Plans for Flood Control System.

Figure 2 - Conceptual Plans for Flood Control System


Conceptual Plan 1 allows water runoff to flow from the central built-up land to
surrounding wetlands or moat for treatment before draining excess water to the rivers
and lake. Upper right: This presents water flowing from surrounding built-up land to a
central lake or wetland for treatment and reuse. Lower left: In the third concept,
wetlands or ponds may be separated from the built-up land but still allowing water
through efficient channels to flow to them. Lower right: The last plan presents a mixture
of previous concepts whereby water runoff may be contained in a central pond, a
surrounding lagoon and in separate wetlands scattered in the green spaces of the city.
In Figure 3 – Conceptual Section for Flood Control System, mixed-use, highrise
buildings will be established to optimize buildable lands while preserving more open
spaces for the green and water system. Buildings and dry lands will be linked with

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

connecting skybridges as access for people who want to see nature below or
underground tunnels for people to appreciate underwater scenery. The building
envelope will be highly vegetated by allowing vines to grow on them or by active
greening measures through the application of green wall and green roof systems while
wetlands may also be constructed on rooftops to contain water for various purposes and
runoff reduction. Flooding in the built-up lands will be reduced by the green and water
system acting as sustainable urban drainage system. On low elevation, water will be
collected or detained through central ponds, adjacent green spaces and wetlands. Any
excess, treated water will be drained to the rivers, Laguna Lake or Manila Bay via
network of canals and water tunnel.

Figure 3 – Conceptual Section for Flood Control System


For roadway flood control, linear green parks on the roadside or road island will
also act as detention canal for floodwaters (Figure 4). Rainwater will be encouraged to
percolate directly through permeable road and sidewalk pavements or planted surfaces.
Any water that will not subside will be drained to major water basins. Existing roads
must be reduced or replaced with permeable materials or new construction must specify
pervious asphalt pavement or something similar in purpose.

Figure 4 - Roadway Flood Control System


Aside from flood control, the green and water systems will have other significant
functions in the city. Clean, free flowing water systems can be used again for transport
and irrigation. Green spaces are highly useful to increase wildlife and biodiversity. They
may be used for education and recreation; they increase aesthetic value of the city,
improve air quality, induce cooler environment and biofiltration. These areas will
promote community cohesion and may be considered a significant natural heritage of

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

the residents. Its totality will definitely increase the quality of life of the people living in
this city.
5.6.Implementation Procedure
Key implementers will be the local government, residents, the business sector,
developers, and other entities supportive of its plan and vision.
5.7.Design Requirements
The design should translate the City's vision to be an "environmentally-sustainable
city". For site selection of major waterfront developments in Taguig, the following
criteria are suggested based on the established vision: civic expressions, leisure
environment, attention to detail, openness to all and provision of necessary amenities.
5.8.Future Developments
Future developments must be comprehensive and sustainable to enhance the living
conditions in the city, to create more activities for locals and tourists, to capitalize and
improve on what is existing, to eventually change what can be modified for
improvement, to preserve special natural features and environmentally critical areas,
and to provide guidelines for the appropriate use of natural resources. Water bodies
must continually be rehabilitated and maintained while easements must be cleared.
Mixed-use, high rise structures with high rise gardens must be the new types of
infrastructure to be found in compact cities such as Taguig. Necessary provisions must
be integrated such as water treatment facility. The City must move forward to using all
possible renewable or alternative resources and zero wastage. With more compact
systems of living, less horizontal developments or roadways will be built freeing more
spaces for natural growth and regeneration.
5.9.Priority Developments
Priority developments may take place to initiate major changes. These points may
be located in the Old Taguig Riverfront Plaza and Taguig Lakeshore which are already
in the conceptual stage though refinements must be made based on the proposals
discussed earlier. Secondary areas of development will follow along adjacent land of
Laguna Lake to capitalize on this major water body while at the same time to nurture its
resources by providing facilities that have less impact to the natural environment.
5.10. Design Features and Functions
In these waterfront developments, certain design features and functions are
recommended: water parks and play areas, green open spaces, dining facilities, fishing
village, orchards and arboretum, agricultural farms, museums, cycling paths, walkways
and boating facilities.
5.11. Recommended Plants
For parks along rivershore or lakeshore area, water-loving or riparian plants or
species useful for phytoremediation must be planted. To flood-prone areas, trees
effective in water absorption such as Eucalyptus and Callistemon may be functional and
decorative. Grasses help prevent erosion on the riverbanks or near the lake. For the
waterfront development, interesting form, color, smell and texture appeal to the senses.
Trees with large canopy provide shade along paths and in parks. Plants with historical
significance in Taguig should be reintroduced and propagated in the city to promote
local character and identity. Native flora rebuilds homes of many local insects, birds and
other life forms. Flood prone areas or low-leveled plains must be reserved as urban
forests or farms where wood and other plant products may be obtained for food
production, livelihood, building homes, boats and others.

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Taguig: Moving Forward to a Premier Waterfront City – Grace C. Edralin-Servino  

6. Conclusion
To turn water from a hazardous element to a functional landscape feature, there are
several measures that are recommended while also enhancing the image of the city.
Rivers must be dredged and minimum easement must be cleared to keep water flowing.
Runoff must percolate easily by providing more permeable surfaces. Excess water will
be contained in detention ponds for water treatment & reuse. Naturally, flood plains
must be conserved as green open spaces or ecologically critical wetlands. Any future
development must integrate green & water zones on lowest portion as defense
mechanism against more flood in the future. Optimize higher ground or small islands
for mixed-use, high rise structures connected by skywalks or tunnels. All green spaces
including green roofs, sky gardens, green walls, wetlands on roofs will reduce runoff
rate & volume. With these considerations, Taguig’s waterfront development will
become centers of recreation, landmarks with civic identity, plazas of social change,
economic growth & core of environmental renewal.

7. Sources
7.1.Independent Book
Breen, Ann. (1996), The New Waterfront: A Worldwide Urban Success Story. New
York: McGraw-Hill.
Laurie, Ian C. (1979) Nature in Cities: The Natural Environment in the Design and
Development of Urban Green Space. Chichester: Wiley.
Liongson, Leonardo Q., et. al. (2000) Pressures of Urbanization : Flood Control and
Drainage in Metro Manila. Quezon City: UP-CIDS.
Miller, John B. (1997), Floods: People at Risk, Strategies for Prevention. New York:
United Nations.
7.2.Government Documents
Taguig City Comprehensive Land Use & Zoning Plan.
Laguna Lake Master Plan
7.3.URL
Taguig City Government, Taguig, http://www.taguig.gov.ph, September 15, 2009.
http://www.green-space.org.uk, October 2, 2009.

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