VISION ZAMBOANGA CITY
A Master Plan For “THE CITY OF FLOWERS”
It is not often that a city can have an opportunity to design itself accordingly, with a detailed and comprehensive City Master Plan of what needs to be done, what they wish to be done, and the amount of time and money it will take to realistically achieve those plans. Accountability for that vision of the future needs to start on a drawing board, with detailed writings of the master plan.
What is the purpose of a City Master Plan?
A master plan sets forth a community's goals and recommends actions that will make the city a good place to live, work, and visit. The plan outlines what needs to be done and how to do it in order to ensure that the community grows in an orderly, well thought out fashion and that the needs of the community will be met. It is not a static blueprint of how to get to some specific end point. It is a living document that provides continual guidance for the work of the city's leaders and staff. Municipal decisions need to be weighed against the values and ideas set forth in the master plan to ensure that the city is heading in the right direction.
Why prepare a detailed and comprehensive City Master Plan?
This open article will be a permanent work in progress, expressing designs for the building blocks of a great city, a beautiful city, an environmental city, a prosperous city, and a city that is at peace with itself and its neighbors. The characteristics of a city lies within its people, the keepers of the key, the ones who interact with their visitors on a level that is both independent and collective. They are the city’s culture, commerce, and identity. People interact with people, and it is ultimately that relationship that forms a bond with each other to make them want to stay and visit, return, or live. The surroundings are then made a part of this special bond.
As we put into writing this vision, we want you to know that you too are a part of it and that we would like you to participate in this process by submitting your own vision. Together, we can help build a better tomorrow.
The power of eminent domain is a very delicate issue when a city government is taking into consideration its options to expand its roadway system to meet the demands of a growing population. It sometimes is not necessary to use it if the city has implemented a future master plan of meeting these growth needs for 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years or more. The longer they wait to implement such master plan, the harder and more expensive it will be to fix the problems. Invariably, the city will be faced with the daunting task of either expanding on the current road design, starting fresh elsewhere and provide a more modern and sustainable roadwork for the current and expected growth, or simply improve on the old road system by either providing adequate sewer, paving, lighting and utilities, traffic, and/or pedestrian control without exercising its power of eminent domain. The "simply improving" is what the majority of city officials have decided to do, and it is and will continue to create havoc in the old city core of downtown. This decision will only lead to steady decline of a historic and beautiful downtown. However, it is still not too late for the next generation of leaders to fix this problem and implement a very strict and fixed solution to save downtown. Downtown needs to be permanently closed off from outside street traffic, making itself a modern-day Intramuros. Then, only a dedicated downtown mass-transport system that emits no pollutants ( or very low contents ) will be allowed to operate there, exclusive of emergency service vehicles and very restrictive delivery vehicles. We also suggest that the ancient-design Calesa ( a horse-drawn carriage, which is still a common mode of short-haul transport in Chinatown, Manila ) be brought back to the downtown scene to service short-haul needs, like they once were. This Zamboanga Calesa design should be based on the ancient Spanish design that can be witnessed at the Manila Intramuros carriage museum. The revitalization of this mode of ancient Zamboanga transport will help distinguish the city's rich Chavacano culture from the rest of the country, and can become a distinctive tourist attraction (similar to what can be experienced today in beautiful downtown St. Augustine, Florida - the oldest city in the U.S.A. - with its abundant historic Spanish-era remnants as unique tourist attractions.)
Afterwards, the city will then need to exercise its power of eminent domain and start buying land along a designated high-speed super highway route ( the existing national highway route ) starting at the border of the city and Zamboanga del Sur and looping towards the airport and up again towards the city border and Zamboanga del Norte, looking like a letter "J." This high-speed highway will definitely have no stop lights and will only offer exit and entry ways, and should be at least a 6-lane system with an extra lane on each side for emergency pullovers, and have a copious median to provide for trees and flowers planting for beautification, lighting, utilities, and signage requirements. Another similar highway will need to be built to cross the middle of the city from east-west, starting maybe from Sangali to San Ramon, to provide a much needed expansion into the central region of the city, and also the Ecozone. These super-highways will be the designated route for all containerized and truck cargo traffic in and out of the major seaports and the airports, keeping big trucks traffic away from the local streets and help in protecting them from damage due to heavy weight loads. It also keeps away the diesel pollution away from the local streets.
n Main International Airport:
The future expansion of the Zamboanga International Airport and Cargo Terminal must be established in the city-owned big Island of Sacol. Sacol Island is the most logical choice for the future expansion of the city's international airport because of its location and isolation from the limited flatlands of the city proper. By locating and building the future airport in Sacol Island, the city will wisely and thankfully provide a blueprint for all future building expansion within the limited flatlands of Zamboanga City, allowing for desirable skyscrapers to be built and promoted without worries of whether the building's height will be in the flight path of a nearby flatlands airport, as is currently suggested for Mercedes. The current airport expansion plan will forever damage the expandability of Zamboanga's ideal and logical expansion by allowing airport traffic and management to dictate where and how future investors and developers will build and how high they can build. This current airport expansion site is nothing but a roadwork to future economic disaster for Zamboanga's increasingly limited flatland space! On the other hand, Sacol Island provides for the best location any airport can have with its enormous size and isolated sea water location. Incredibly, Sacol Island has its own water source that can service all the needs of the future ideal site for the city's international airport, and all the accompanying services a world-class airport provides such as: airport hotels and convention centers, cargo storage warehouses, office space for airport services, ground transportation infrastructure, parking garages for short or long term parking, aircraft maintenance and storage facilities, restaurants and concessions facilities, duty-free shopping for local and international goods, an airport business park, and possibly a separate runway dedicated to military aircraft traffic and its command post that is currently provided by Edward Andrews AFB.
The Sacol Island location can provide the military a great facility as it expands its role of safekeeping for the city's population and its role as economic and tourism gateway to western Mindanao, nearby Basilan Island, and beyond. The rugged mountains and sea access of Sacol Island can be used as valuable training grounds for the military or local law enforcement services, and their permanent presence there will give the city government a pro-active frontline defense against historical terrorist and illegal smuggling activities in and around the island. The country's President is even contemplating relocating the Philippine Marine Corps' Headquarters into Zamboanga City, along with its over 10,000 troops and their attachments. Sacol Island will provide the Philippine Marine Corps' Headquarters a perfect home, and it could be converted into their own "Hawaiian Island" paradise base with their own private white sand beach and hotel for family R&R vacations, similar to what the US military has in Fort DeRussy's Armed Forces Recreation Center, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. Imagine the beautiful tropical island location of Sacol with its diversely rich marine life (instead of its current congested and polluted location in Manila), encased in the exotic splendor of Chavacano culture to help the city allure this prospective vision? It cannot be a better choice for the Philippine Marines to make Sacol Island its future Headquarters and also its new Corps Training Center, with an excellent amphibious training capacity, in addition to its rugged terrain features. It can help the Philippine government bring peace and business expansion into Zamboanga City, and expand its role as business center of south-western Philippines. The location of a new international airport in Sacol Island will help propel Zamboanga City into a future of proper growth and expansion, opening up the extremely profitable air commerce of that region that is currently underutilized but sufficiently accommodated with vessel traffic, which exceeded over 5 million passengers in 2002 - more than any city in the country! The city's new international airport in Sacol Island will firmly establish itself as the BIMP-EAGA gateway into the country.
A world-class bridge system will need to be constructed to link the island's international airport facility with the city mainland at its shortest distance span near barrio Taluksangay, providing further growth of interconnected business services at the entrance to the airport's bridge system . The design of this bridge could be made in a manner that can further define the city's character, making it a signature landmark attraction that can bring in additional tourism income similar to other bridge-defining cities.
A world-class golf-course could be built near the island airport, providing international appeal to tourists and business travelers. Hotel and beach resorts could be carefully and environmentally provided along the beautiful white-sand beaches of Sacol Island, and a wild-life preserve established to protect the island's delicate mangrove or marshland ecosystem. The natural beauty of Zamboanga lies within the extensive bodies of water surrounding it, and ideal fast water taxies can help ferry airport passengers and tourists quickly to downtown hotels/businesses or tourists sites and vice-versa, avoiding the congested city streets while shamelessly exposing travelers to the beautiful scenery of Zamboanga's environs from the water. With careful consideration, planning, design, and management, the future Zamboanga International Airport in Sacol Island can be one of the most beautiful and effective airport facility in the world.
For more details, view Z-Editorial: Sacol Island: The Ideal Location for Zamboanga International Airport
n Secondary Airports:
A secondary airport needs to be built in the Ecozone to exclusively handle cargo and corporate traffic.
International Cruise Ship Terminal - The current main seaport downtown will need to expand its cruise ships handling capacity so that it can service and attract the much larger cruise ships, and contract to make it one of their major ports-of-call for the Asian sector. Recently, the T/S Maxim Gorkiy cruise ship made port in the city’s pantalan, and entertained a few hundred tourist, mostly Germans. It surely must have felt good for the Mayor to receive such rare foreign tourists (Note: In the 1970s, Zamboanga was frequented by many Germans and Italians). Well, in order to have guests over to your place, you must invite them first, and that task belongs to the City’s Tourism Office! Then, you must have the welcome mat laid out at your doorstep – the pantalan – and have proper tourist infrastructure and services in place to receive them, exclaiming welcome! Bienvenidos! Its location in the historic downtown area and near the beautiful surrounding islands will help strengthen its position even more. This expansion emphasis coincides with the plan to convert downtown into an Intramuros, preserving its unique history and turning it into a tourist oasis. Once this bigger cruise ship facility is in place, much-needed hotels will follow to help accommodate the increase in tourist traffic. It's local and international passenger traffic will increase tremendously, bringing along a high currency return in tourist traffic. In 1999, the city ranked number 2 in total passenger traffic ( 2.6 million ) amongst the top Philippine Ports, behind Manila's major North Harbor Port, and number 3 for the first six months of 2000. Combine that 1999 volume with its neighbor Basilan's number 11 ranking ( 1.04 million in 1999 ) and you get a staggering total of over 3.6 million passengers!
In 2002, the Port of Zamboanga, inclusive of all area ports and Basilan, was ranked #1 and registered an astounding 5.57 million passengers, surpassing #2 Batangas by 1.3 million passengers, and #5 Manila by over 1.59 million passengers! For a reported trouble spot like the Zamboanga region, this statistic is simply mind boggling!!! (COMPARISON: In 2000, the total volume of passenger traffic in the Port of Miami (Florida), the largest and most modern cruise ship terminal in the world, was 3.5 million passengers!) It is evident that ship travel is the main mode of transport between the islands of the Philippines. The Zamboanga City-Basilan corridor is definitely a force to recon with, and the city needs to realize this position and actively pursue partners and investors for the development of the new and bigger port passenger terminal. In spite of all the negative developments and reports around the city, the people still come. That is a testament to the allure and strength of the city's position as a major local and international embarkation and disembarkation point.
n Secondary Seaports:
Major Secondary Seaports will need to be built to alleviate the congested, and ill-advised expansion of the main port downtown. These secondary seaports will need to be designed to accommodate major expansion of port facilities in the future, to the extent that they will eventually replace the downtown port facility as the major seaports for the city and the surrounding region. We recommend a major international containerized seaport be developed ( about 200-300 hectares reserved for 25-50 years growth ) in the Caldera Bay area near Recodo to handle the future growth of the Ecozone, and alleviate the congestion downtown. Another major seaport should be built in the Taguiti Bay area, near the island of Vitali to service the northern region, and then add one more major seaport in the Malasugat Bay area near Sangali for specialized traffic like the lucrative fishing and canning industry that is currently being cornered by the General Santos community and brokers from outside the city. The city should extend their tax-free zone to these secondary seaports and designate the areas where companies can build, taking into consideration proximity of established communities for supply of labor and transportation access. These additional seaports will help make the city a one-stop shop for major local and international traffic.
n Civic: Zamboanga City's Civic Center (view design proposal)
Zamboanga City needs to establish a vital design and implementation program for its badly needed Civic Center. As the city grows bigger, its present state of abysmal master planning implementation will choke the historical landmark structure of City Hall with its citizen’s inherent squatter mentality, closing off any feasible plan, or chance, to establish a much needed Civic Center design. We are strongly urging the City Mayor’s office, all city government officials and offices, to make a concerted effort to lay down a City Civic Center area along the present location of City Hall, within the additional properties bordering alongside Don Pablo Lorenzo Street, Valderosa Street, a new Villalobos Street extention from Valderosa Street cutting into the Warf area water, and back to Don Pablo Lorenzo Street (including the Don Pablo Lorenzo Street Extension in between). Above link shows a vision design for how the city’s Civic Center should expand and lay out its streets, pedestrian-friendly walkways, and gathering areas. Here's hoping the city leaders still have time and capacity to make the right future for its citizens. Stop wasting people's money by giving them instead a reason to feel proud of their city and heritage, and rekindle civic pride with the implementation of this Civic Center design.
n Designated System:
n Primary Schools:
n Secondary Schools:
n Specialty Schools:
n Business Affiliation:
n Natural Resources:
Zamboanga Freeport ( Ecozone ) - we recommend that they do the following:
Simply atrocious! There probably is an adequate locally supported transport system, but the city is not managing its cohesion properly. The result: CHAOS! The City Engineer's office needs to do an overhaul of their vehicle and traffic management policy, and the Police Force needs to enforce it! There needs to be an orderly master plan drawn up for how and where various types of vehicles can operate, and their licenses should reflect that. If the operators break it enough times, then they lose their right to drive and service the public. It is not enough to just build or upgrade roads and traffic signals, and hope that will suffice. It will take a lot of planning, teaching, and learning to break bad habits and improve the present condition.
n Labor Force:
Zamboanga City Tourism Office/Officer ( ZCTO ) - The city needs to create and fund this very important department to act as a resource provider and advertiser for everything about the city. This office will be independent of the objectives of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) located in this city. Its main goal is to provide all the necessary assistance needed to promote the city to the world in a methodical and highly customer-oriented fashion so as to attract more tourist traffic into the city. We urge the mayor to immediately hire a designated "Zamboanga City Tourism Officer" to head this department on a FULL-TIME basis. This individual will be tasked to create and maintain a database of all major local, national, and international travel and cruise line agencies for regular promotions of the city through the affordable internet medium or free media. One key investment this office should make is in a good quality digital camera. Why? To promote the city visually to any and all current and future entities that have a need for a steady supply of marketing photos. Currently, there are quite a few web sites that are dedicated to the promotion of the city ( us being one of them ) that are not getting any promotional assistance from the ZCTO. The mayor's office needs to re-think its position on how to help service these dedicated web sites. The city and its people are the main benefactors of these web sites, and the Tourism Officer should be responsible in assisting them in any fashion possible. Providing a constant stream of freshly taken digital photos of the city and its people, and additional promotional news of local developments will only help improve the attractiveness of the city to potential tourist traffic. As a chartered city, Zamboanga needs to take matters into its own hands and not rely on the PTA to do its tourist advertising job. This key city position is crucial to the expansion of the city's master plan.
( NOTE: The city may currently have something similar to this position, but its objective is not being met because no one outside the city knows about it or benefits from it. It is a sad position that this office or individual is in because they are not fulfilling their obligations as detailed above. If there is such an individual or office, we hope the mayor's office rectifies their shortcomings immediately and position the city in a pro-active program of improving its tourism advertising. The city needs to change its tourist advertising image of "I'm too important and proud to help anyone, even if it means a loss of valuable revenue." It would be wise for the city to determine in detail how much money is being spent by expatriate Zamboangueños around the world into the local economy. When they do, they can either educate the ZCTO or replace him/her with someone better! )
Zamboanga Performing Arts Centre -
Chavacano Linguistics Institute -
Barrio del Mundo -
The Moro Village -
Zamboanga City Zoo (ZCZ) - The old zoo site in Pasonanca Park and its very limited space and antiquated display needs to be relocated to a much larger area and facility. We recommend that it be situated in the Abung Abung highlands, overlooking the city and sea. Additionally, the city needs to designate this new zoo area a natural sanctuary/preserve for legal protection - about 100-200 hectares. The exhibits need to be increased tremendously to heighten local and world awareness of the unique and indigenous species of the islands, especially those that are endangered, and help bring in more tourist income and additional jobs.
Mountain Trekking - The city needs to solicit assistance and/or partnership from national mountain trekking companies on selecting local mountain regions suitable for transforming or improving into trek camp sites. By converting certain mountains into designated eco-tourism, the trees and forest within can be shielded from the disastrous effects of logging ( legal and illegal ). The income from these mountain trekking sites will more than offset the short term loss of legal logging revenues, and help bring more employment in an environmentally friendly business. The city's parks department and mountain rangers will be in charge of managing and maintaining these trek sites.
Zamboanga City Museum of Flowers ( ZCMF ) - this museum will house all the local species of flowers and that of the Philippine Islands. The land for the main building and the garden area will need to be at least 10 hectares (25 acres). The objective of this institution will not only be to showcase, but also to cultivate and cross-breed local, indigenous, national, and rare varieties for sale and/or distribution to local landscaping beautification projects. Scientists and botanists will head a non-profit organization to be housed in a section of the museum for the pursuit of saving any endangered species, cultivating, education, research, and other functions deemed important. The city's nickname "The City of Flowers" will be an integral part of the museum's role in the community. The museum will sponsor a monthly house garden and barangay beautification competition wherein the winners will be awarded specially bred flowers from the museum to be planted and cared for at the winners' place, with placards announcing them as winners of the month. The museum will also initiate an annual showcase show of its facility to coincide with a designated special occasion ( maybe "The Jambangan Flower Festival" ) and do it on a month of its own during the dry season for tourist to see. The profits can be used to further its role in the community, and be self-sufficient.
Zamboanga City Marine Aquarium ( ZCMA ) - this aquarium museum will hold the largest exhibit of Philippine indigenous marine species that is undoubtedly one of the richest in the world, where most of them come from the waters surrounding the city . It will need to be housed close to downtown for tourist traffic, by the Fort Pilar area, and next to the Basilan Straight for facility access to the open sea. Species of sea shells, corals, fish, plants, and other marine varieties will be collected and showcased here. It will be a one-of-a-kind facility in the world. This aquarium will also house marine scientists and other similar fields for the purpose of research, education, promotion, care, and preservation of the endangered species. For now, only divers and snorkelers are able to view the area's beautiful undersea world, and they sometimes run short of superlatives to describe their experience. With the completion of the aquarium, the world will converge upon it to experience the same superlatives in a more hospitable and beautifully designed environment.
The city assessor's office needs to get off its feet and desks and generate a detailed city map of the entire city and make it available for sale and distribution to local and international outlets. They can make additional capital by selling, or contracting for sale, these much needed city street maps. Moreover, they need to generate an internet-based interactive map of the city that shows all natural and built details of the city and its surrounding islands for its people, tourists, businesses, and prospective investors. It is inconceivable for a city office tasked to generate the city's geographic and economic mapping to not have any city map products to show for the work that the tax payers pay them to do! Zamboanga City is a major tourist and economic center, and there is no available map to speak of it! Incredible! You guys need to get on with the task that the tax payers paid you to do and produce a beautiful and detailed map of 'The City of Flowers." This city map is an essential part of the city's comprehensive Master Plan. This office needs to assess the city's overall land value, not just in terms of taxation, but also in terms of environmental composition and impact of future growth, mapping out in detail all land features such as marshes, rivers, lakes, beaches, or mountains, and survey any and all known species of flora and fauna that are indigenous to the areas and note their status of existence ( abundant vs. endangered ). This important data will help city leaders determine the prescribed growth areas for the master plan, guide them to put into law strict protection of environmentally sensitive natural preserves, establish more city parks for each barangay neighborhood, nature hiking trails, bike trails, pedestrian walkways, mountain vista points to view the surrounding scenery, and many other amenities that will help make the city a better place for its residents and visitors. This data will also help city leaders map out areas ideal for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and residential growth and expansion in their master plan. Even better, they can build a scale model of this detailed map and set aside an exhibit room for all to come and see it, and know what the city and the master plan will look like. The mayor needs to empower the citizens with this information so they can see what the city government is planning for them. We recommend that this office contract with the Integrated Approaches to Participatory Development (IAPAD) organization in visualizing a 3-D map of Zamboanga City and its Master Plan for the benefit of, and accountability to, the people. More importantly, the Philippine government's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already institutionalized this Participatory 3-D Modeling last 1/4/2001.
The lifeblood of the city - keep it clean, safe, and untainted. The present facility needs to be expanded now in order to accommodate the rapid growth of the city and sustain it for a 10, 25, and 50-year spurt. Land for this expansion needs to be bought now at the reduced market rate, or contract for it as a guaranteed option. The quality of the water found in Zamboanga's drinking water is very good, and its source from thousands of feet high up in the central mountains of the city is plentiful.
Zamboanga City Dam: One major and vital project the city officers and their water projects office managers need to implement soon is a water dam that can collect millions of gallons of rain water in the rainy season, which covers half of the year, with a hydro-electric power processing plant that can generate enough electricity to sustain the city's expanding needs for the next century! All excess hydro-electric power can be sold to nearby provinces and cities, bringing additional income to the city. This vision of the water-retention dam will have to be enormous in size and scope as it will be the economic backbone of the city. As oil prices continually rise higher and its availability become heavily dependent on the volatile governments that control them, the city can invest in a future that is independent of outside oil influence. The abundant water and electricity resource will make the city very attractive to international investments, and will help eliminate its rapidly expanding air-pollution problem by offering alternative electricity-based public transportation. Without this make or break water dam project, the city will keep suffering from its lazy attitude towards forward thinking and its poor citizens will be stuck in the stone-age of constant water rationing. Is persistent and negligent water rationing a way to attract future investments into Zamboanga City, or is it creating a big sink-hole where great business potential can disappear into its dry center? Seco negosio!
If the police force warrants that they are there to service the public's needs, then half their job is already done! Otherwise, the department needs to police itself and establish its own code of conduct and professional ethics, placing themselves visibly in front of the public's scrutiny and accountability. The veil of corruption and atrocities is still lingering in front of the public's eye, and the onus to lift it hangs directly on top of each and every member of the police force. Is it possible to achieve this objective? The public can only hope and pray.
Basura! Basura! Basura! Basta! Basta! Basta! It will take the cooperation of everyone to remedy this problem. If residents are content with living amidst visible trash and its pestilence, then they deserve what they get! If they take pride in their community, then there should be no excuse for not cleaning and sanitizing their place of living. The city cannot be expected to do it all. It doesn't hurt to be accountable. It's your home!
Make the process streamlined, simple, and fast, and clamp down on any lingering corruption practices.