The Metro Manila Subway was dubbed “Project of the Century” not only in the Philippines but for the whole Southeast Asian Region. In collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the construction plan for the country’s first-ever subway or underground railway system is on its way.
Actually, the idea of the Japan-Philippines joint subway project was already planned out as early as the year 1973. The JICA (at the time known as the Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency or OTCA) and former Secretary of Public Works and Highways David Consunji conducted a feasibility study. To make the story short, the subway dream did not come through and instead constructed the Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 1 which was completed on May 12, 1985.
Today might be different as the dream of a subway transport is coming close to reality.
Japanese Prime Minister Visits The Philippines
November 13, 2017 could be a historic date as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Philippines for a bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. Both sides exchanged notes for the much-awaited subway project along with four other deals. This date is probably where it all starts.
Present at the meeting, Shinya Ejima, senior vice president of JICA, might be the first to claim the subway as Southeast Asia’s “Project of the Century.” Then on March 16, 2018, the Philippines and JICA signed the first loan agreement amounting to ₱51 billion. To finish the project, the country needs an estimated amount of not less than ₱350 billion.
DOTr Formalized A Ceremony To Start The Construction
The subway is Duterte Administration’s flagship project. It aims to decongest traffic on EDSA and connect major business centers in Metro Manila. On February 27, 2019, the first groundbreaking activity was done in the depot site in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City despite several postponements.
On December 21, 2019, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) held a ceremony to formalize the start of the project construction. The ceremony was held at the same location as the first groundbreaking activity. Here is also where the subway line’s East Valenzuela Station will be located. On that day, DOTr also started the clearing operation in the area as part of their continuing effort to ensure all the factors needed are sufficient in building the underground railway project.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade led the ceremony and also announced the progress of acquiring right-of-way from legal owners and relocation of informal settler families. A batch of affected landowners was present during the ceremony and received their check payments. As for the informal settlers who lived in the area, Tugade also announced during the ceremony that 178 out of 183 affected families have already been resettled in Disiplina Village, Barangay Bignay, Valenzuela City.
Details And Projection Of the Subway
The project involves the construction of 15 stations that can span a length of more than 30 kilometers. The following are the proposed stations’ locations:
- Mindanao Avenue
- Tandang Sora
- North Avenue
- Quezon Avenue
- East Avenue
- Ortigas North
- Ortigas South
- Kalayaan Avenue
- Bonifacio Global City
- Cayetano Boulevard
- Food Terminal Inc. Complex
- Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
The trains are designed to run at 80 kilometers per hour. The tunnel diameter inside and outside is projected at 5.2 meters and 5.65 meters respectively. It is designed to withstand a magnitude-8.0 earthquake to anticipate the massive threat of underground movements in the Marikina Valley Fault System.
The systems are greatly similar to the Tokyo subway stations in that they have design features such as water-stop panels, a high-level entrance for flood prevention, earthquake detections, and a train stop system. With all the mentioned details, it was expected to serve 370,000 passengers daily with an actual maximum capacity of 1.5 million passengers.
By the year 2022, it was projected that the first three stations namely Quirino Highway-Mindanao Avenue Station, Tandang Sora Station, and North Avenue Station should be running for public transport. Then by the year 2025, the Metro Manila Subway is expected to be fully operational.
Project Construction Amidst Lockdowns
The COVID-19 global pandemic, more than health issues, also creates an economic meltdown. Obviously, construction projects have been put on hold, including the Metro Manila Subway. To prevent the virus from infecting more people, a nationwide quarantine has been implemented and began on March 16, 2020. To slowly bounce back the economy, the Philippine government allowed construction work to resume.
DOTr announced the resuming of work for 13 projects which also included the Metro Manila Subway. However, they also said that the resumption is only for limited works such as the relocation of affected utilities including electric, telecoms, and water lines.
As part of additional rules, there should also be limited mobilization of personnel and need to observe skeletal staffing patterns. There should also be near-site accommodation and/or point-to-point shuttle services. Social distancing, proper hygiene, and frequent disinfection of all related places should also be implemented.
The Positive Impact For Capitol Commons
For the Capitol Commons, Pasig City’s 10-hectare site with ongoing high-end construction projects, the subway will exponentially increase the positive impact for socio-economic growth. As part of the proposed networks for the railways, Capitol Commons will host the Ortigas South Station.
Besides the mega-project subway, Ortigas & Company, the site’s developer, are also planning to construct this ₱1.6 billion BGC-Ortigas Center Link Road Project to connect the rest of Ortigas central business district with Bonifacio Global City.
Capitol Commons seems like only a small part of a big picture. Come to think of it, every major business district in Metro Manila will only be minutes away from one another once these projects come to fruition. Imagine a 40-minute commute from Mindanao Avenue to NAIA instead of two hours. Moreover, the Metro Manila Subway will be also connected with other major rail lines such as the PNR Clark, PNR Calamba, and the Common Station to increase the railways’ interconnections to nearby provinces.
The Taal Volcano eruption, and recent pandemic made the year 2020 a hell of a challenge for the Philippines, and we are only almost halfway there. But if all goes according to the government’s timeline, real estates within the surroundings of Metro Manila Subway can increase in value like never before.
Residential projects like The Imperium, The Royalton, Maven, retail establishments like Unimart and Gastro, as well as the Estancia Mall are among the property lists bound for higher evaluation prior to subway construction.
For Capitol Commons, investments will continue to pour in addition to the recently approved ₱26 billion investment from Ortigas & Company.
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