It was not just one fine day. It was one great day for residents of Fort Bonifacio, for we will have a new place to do some real walking that is a little sheltered from the smog from traffic. We are talking about the BGC Greenway project, which was opened partially on July 14, 2016 at a ceremony held at Icons Residences.
If you are a resident of Fort Bonifacio who lives near the west side of the city near Manila Golf Club, it would have been impossible for you not to notice the construction work that has been going on there for several months.
That construction work was part of the BGC Greenway project, which is a 1.6 km path that allows residents to walk or bike from Bonifacio Ridge to McKinley Road without having to cross any vehicular traffic. Its minimum width is 2.5 meters, and in many parts, it is wide enough for people walking, jogging and biking together.
If you look at the greenway today, it may not seem such a great deal. It looks like an ordinary landscaped backyard.
The significance of the greenway is that it got built at all. The greenway has been included in the Master Plan of BGC since the announcement of the Master Plan of Fort Bonifacio (now branded as BGC by the main developers) in 1999. Lots were sold and investors were drawn in because of what was shown in the Master Plan. BGC was designed to be a first world city. The greenway was called BGC Linear Park in the Master Plan.
Nothing happened for more than ten years. Then, a few years ago, around 2013, a group of residents, including Mr. Michael Keppler of Pacific Plaza Towers, urged the management of Fort Bonifacio, which is a company called Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) and is made up of representatives of BCDA, Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc., to bring the greenway to life. They found a strong ally in Mr. Charles Rufino, President of the Net Group, a major developer in Fort Bonifacio. Since then, Mr. Rufino has been working tiredlessly to see that the greenway is built. As a chairman of Urban Land Institute Philippines, Mr. Charlie Rufino was also instrumental in getting a grant from Urban Land Institute to kick start the project.
A pathway that allows people to walk in a green environment is often not on the minds of officials in a developing country, let alone that of private developers in this setting, where the usual goal is to compete against each other to be the top earner from every square meter of land that they come across. It is to FBDC's credit that they honor the promise made to investors.
The work that has gone into it since May 2015 includes putting in ducts that house power cables that can provide Fort Bonifacio additional electricity supply to meet its future growth, and the construction of proper drainage that ensures the greenway stays dry. In a developing country like the Philippines, these basic infrastructures are often not included in public works.
Mr. Charlie Rufino is currently mobilizing local businesses to put amenities such as benches and lightings on the greenway.
Major locators of BGC were invited to speak at the launching ceremony.
Speakers at the BGC Greenway launch ceremony
(left to right): Mr. David Toze, Superintendent, International School
Manila; Mr. Don Lee, Lafarge country chief executive officer; Mr. Patrick
L. Phillips, Global Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Land
Institute; Mr. Rally Martinez, president and CEO of Nuvoland
Philippines; Mr. Charlie Rufino, outgoing chairman of Urban Planning
Institute Philippines; Mr. Robert F. Kuan, Chairman, St Luke’s Medical
Center; Mr. Manuel Blas II, Head of Operations, Makati and Bonifacio
Global City, Ayala Land Inc.; Mr. Raymond Rufino, incoming Chairman of Urban
Land Institute Philippines.
Anybody who is interested in the developmental history of Fort Bonifacio would have found the speeches by the speakers, particularly those given by early locators of the Fort, very interesting.
Mr. Toze of International School Manila, recounted how his school decided to move to its current location in Fort Bonifacio.
The decision to move the school to Fort Bonifacio was not an easy one, Mr. Toze recalled. At that time, Fort Bonifacio was an empty lot. The school took a leap of faith in deciding on Fort Bonifacio as the new school location. He was happy with the way that it had turned out today. However, he also named the challenges ahead, such as in dealing with a growing traffic congestion problem, as well as worsening air pollution.
Mr. Blas II of Ayala Corporation talked about the planning for green space in Fort Bonifacio.
He explained how green space was designated in Fort Bonifacio.
Mr. Robert Kuan of St Luke's Medical Center also relayed how he persuaded the board of St. Luke's Medical Center to agree to build a new hospital in Fort Bonifacio despite the uncertainties in financing this mammoth project. He expressed his eagerness to try out the whole length of the greenway when it was completed later this year, as he would much prefer to exercise outdoor in an unpolluted environment than in an air-conditioned gym.
According to FBDC, the greenway should be completed before the end of year. When it is completed, I am sure it will be well used by residents. Even now, when it is not fully finished, and not raining, some residents are already taking walks on the greenway.
For more details on the design of the BGC Greenway, read this article.