Why Torre de Manila should be built all the way to the sky

torre 03 coconutsmedia

[Photo credit: coconutmedia.com]

I’m sorry, I don’t grasp this emotional outrage about a condo high rise. I fail to see the sacrilege. Of course, I also defended President Aquino not attending the arriving of the coffins, so it is for sure me who is out of step with the rallying masses.

Beyond the outrage, I also don’t understand the Supreme Court and Legislature always meddling with progress as if their main function were to throw wrenches into the engines of enrichment.

You know enrichment? It’s that stuff everyone is claiming the Aquino administration is not doing enough of, as they tie its hands in every way imaginable. I laugh. The three branches of government are a lot like the three stooges, face-slapping one another. In the DAP case, the Court stopped an Executive program aimed at accelerating spending. Now the Senate is investigating because Executive is not spending fast enough.

Here’s an idea. Each branch of government just do a better job itself and stop pretending its wisdom is holier than that of the other branches.

I rather think that if the Senate were doing more good law-writing and less investigating of Executive, it would actually HELP with the enrichment process instead of bogging it down. Like, let’s talk about the absence of a National Land Use Act to correct the fact that today land use authorities are conveyed to the cities and municipalities, so they can build high rises wherever they please. And houses on flood prone river banks.

Rather than them saying “You (over there) aren’t doing your job right”, how about these leaders start asking “How can I do my job better?”

Trust me, they can.

I laugh again.

People commonly blame President Aquino for the perennial Manila area floods, neglecting entirely all the decisions made by surrounding cities to build thousands of structures in the natural drainage channels during the past 20 years. Where were all the protesters then, I’m inclined to ask. Where was the Senate on that deal? And where is the rational understanding that the President cannot jack Manila 15 meters higher in six years?

What is it about this nation that, whenever a perceived mistake is made, someone must be hauled to the altar of righteousness and sacrificed for it? It’s like we can’t do virgins anymore because that is sexist, but we can do presidents and mayors and businessmen. I’m surprised we don’t open up the acid waters of Pinatubo for dumping the culprit of the week in for a nice skinning job to teach him a thing or two about attending properly to our emotional needs.

The builder of the high rise, a company known by the initials of DMCI, is the current virgin being pitched into the volcano by legions of protesters who aim to assuage their righteous anger.

Do you know what the job of businessmen is?

Their job is to be profitable, and to get there, they provide jobs for people.

It is not to worship at the altar of Rizal, a deity in the making if this emotionalism continues.

torre 01Do you know what surrounds the half-built high rise? Urban jungle. Rizal Park is a huge expanse of land, and that is not enough? We must grant the dead doctor viewing rights all the way to the ocean?

Surely this is the only nation in the world that would protest in favor of building out instead of up, as if Manila were situated in the uninhabited prairies of Mongolia.  It is the only nation that would require businessmen to build inefficient low rises because high rises don’t fit their definition of pretty.

Clouds in the Philippines are a dime a dozen, yet we don’t want any buildings in the way. We are into aesthetics instead of building a vibrant economy and feeding the poor.

Stopping the project sent a shiver through the whole real estate industry. Who wants to invest here when a meddling Supreme Court has no concern for RAMIFICATIONS of its decisions, and just puts everything into the calendar for handling in a year or ten. The Court’s knee-jerk “stop the building” ruling put the whole real estate industry into shock.

These are wise men, you say? And women?

Pardon me for thinking that Judges don’t care. They don’t ever get dumped into the acid pits of Pinatubo, no matter how many Ombudsman orders they overturn or Executive programs they stop or criminals they keep in the clink without trial until they die of cancer.

All DMCI did was try to build a building.

Did someone make a mistake?


In hindsight.

Hindsight is a prism through which Filipinos view things really really well. Filipinos are stuck in past tense. Their favorite gear is reverse. They’ve been looking at the Philippine American War for over a hundred years now, feet and history books locked into the past while the future goes wanting.

Dr. Rizal is a hero, exactly why?

Because he wrote a couple of really good books? Because he stood up to those conniving Spaniards and the church they were in cahoots with to make way for . . . ummm, for . . . the conniving oligarchs of today and that same church they are in cahoots with? Because America wanted him to be a hero to unify the fractured nation?

Look, I like Dr. Rizal. He is about the coolest guy imaginable. He could think outside the box and write gloriously. He could speak a dozen languages and do masterful works like build an aqueduct while in confinement. And he was a ladies man, kinda like me in the good old days, a girl in every port as the old saying goes. He could incite a revolution just by walking into a room. And he died a martyr, not unlike Jesus Christ.

That’s a quality man.

But I don’t think he would be so shallow as to shake his fist at a building if that building was giving people a good place to stay, and helping poor people eat. I’m guessing he would not stop the project even if a mistake had been made. He was always funny in that way,  thinking about other people instead of himself.

I imagine he’d say,

“Well, a mistake was made, let’s move on.”

The Philippines is Pogoland.

Pogo is the Walt Kelly comic strip possum who uttered that famous saying, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

There are two competing needs at Torre de Manila:

  • The need to be emotionally taken care of because somebody goofed.
  • The need to see that our neighbors have jobs and homes.

As far as I can tell, there is no need for another deity. Hell, the one we have now is not helping out that much if I judge from all the corruption and crime and babies neglected across the land.

The Philippines seems to go with emotional neediness every time. I think there is a connectivity between outrage and the bizarre need people have for things to be perfect.

OCD, baby, Philippine National OCD.

Righteous rage is overblown to the max. The need for perfection makes mistakes intolerable. It is the same neediness that drives campaign murders or rage at misbehaving American troops or pounding on the President of the Philippines for missing the coffins.

Thereby weakening the Philippines.

Usually, the outrage gets transferred to the Legislature for some elaborate investigations not unlike the showy dancing, hair pulling and drum pounding that occurs before the rite of tossing the virgin into the volcano. The Mamasapano hearing was better than the best fiesta in that regard, with generals weeping, fiery speeches raging at peace negotiators, national secrets dumped on the faux nara-wood tables and the President kicked repeatedly in the groin by a line of prancing, half-naked senatorial street dancers.

As I said, it was elaborate.

If a mistake is made, find the culprit!

Sacrifice him!

That is the battle cry of the Philippines.

torre 02 gmanews

[Photo credit: GMA News]

People feel better about themselves if they toss someone else into Pinatubo.

Well, that’s not my religion. My religion is corporate, it is profit, it is progress, it is jobs, it is creation of wealth. And that building over there looks downright beautiful.

I don’t care that much about some statue made of brass that the pigeons donate to. I care about the principle the man stood for, the betterment of his nation.

I care about Jesus and Mohammed and moral values and living right. I care about being kind and not stealing and not electing presidents who steal. I care about building an economy that takes care of the poor.

But if a mistake was made, my religion has a simple principle:

Learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.

But don’t compound the mistake by flagellating the Philippines and businesses that are the lifeblood of economic well-being for the poor.

If you are going to sacrifice somebody, make it the Binays.

Not businessmen.

If you are going to hold somebody accountable, hold yourself up to the light first. That is ESPECIALLY true if you are on the Supreme Court and in the Legislature, two branches of government that seem to have a particular skill at driving the Philippines back into the needy, emotional, drum-beating stone ages.

Here are three recommendations:

  1. Supreme Court: Stop holding the Philippines back.
  2. Legislature: Pass a National Land Use Act that stops the indiscriminate chopping up of the Philippines; if you are so inclined, include a “line of sight” regulation for cherished structures where open space is considered an element of that structure’s meaning.
  3. People: Move on and build for the future.

As with Mamasapano, there was a confluence of events on the condo tower. There was no single culprit.

Seeing this rage of righteousness is like staring into a volcano.

And tossing virgins in won’t help at all.

Really . . . it won’t.


353 Responses to “Why Torre de Manila should be built all the way to the sky”
  1. pussyfooter says:

    I’d have to disagree. Sure maybe I’m “just” being emotional, but then any less-than-cold-hard-cash sense of history or culture (not to say that dreaded word “nationalism” or even “patriotism”) will always be intrinsically emotional if only because it would be strictly irrational. I also detest that deplorable Filipino hyperemotionality. But that doesn’t mean there is zero place in any productive, intelligent society for some appropriate emotion.

    The idea that there should be an undisturbed vista around the statue is, sure, irrational and no doubt “uncommercial.” But that doesn’t mean inherently invalid or unsound, especially in a country and in a spectacularly (hellishly) illustrative city that has its head up its ass about its history and culture in just about every other way. No doubt Baron Haussman-original and -inspired rules about maintaining certain Paris areas and facades through hundreds of years are also irrational, and gave us one of the most gorgeous (and thus massively lucrative, despite its own people’s frequent attempts to shoot its economy in the foot) places on the planet. Also Turkey was irrational in ordering the demolition of buildings “photobombing” ancient beauties like the Hagia Sophia. (http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/aug/21/istanbuls-illegal-towers-to-be-demolished-after-landmark-court-ruling)

    I agree with your other points like why didn’t/don’t people protest construction, er, obstruction of old and perfectly functional waterways and the three branches of government looking after their own households first and foremost. (And as you have I think already guessed, obviously it was Manila’s always-illustrious and noble-minded local government who made the offending condo more or less legal.) But I should think that anyone who’s been living so long in a society with such an abject and bullheaded lack of self-respect–born, I daresay, at least partly out of an utter and dogged ignorance of / disregard for their history and therefore identity–and who’s experienced an altogether much more self-aware society would be able to appreciate the advantages of the latter over the former… the aesthetic advantages if nothing else.

    Sure the construction generated jobs, et cetera. But to essentially claim that it’s either one ugly condo or mass starvation and poverty is to oversimplify the problem into a false dichotomy. Presumably there is a middle way between total disregard for cultural icons–with all the symbolic/cultural as well as economic implications of that, and independently of the actual accomplishments of the historical person–and a few more minimum-wage, mostly contractual jobs. As you said, it is the job of capitalists to seek to maximize profit. Similarly, it is the job of government and of private society (as much as it evidently forgets this a lot of the time) to seek to improve quality of life. And perhaps you will agree that on the scale of a whole society projecting into the future as well as living in the present, that’s not just about money.

    • pussyfooter says:

      Oops sorry, lost my way there– *between total disregard for cultural icons and a wholly speculative wasteland within a several-mile radius of the statue, I meant.

      Incidentally, I did consider Central Park in NYC which IS surrounded by tall buildings. But certainly vista is not as much of a problem for Central Park which is easily several times bigger than Luneta Park and is full of tall trees.

    • Joe America says:

      I would just hate to see DMCI face outrageous financial penalties when the Philippines needs their contribution. If the government approved the deal, no laws were broken, and taxpayers want it down. Let taxpayers suffer the financial consequences, not DMCI. For me, I’d respect Rizal if there were 20 tall buildings packed tightly around the park, because it is who he was and what he stood for that matters, and it does not require a temple. But I recognize I am the odd man out. I’d rather be moving forward than fighting these unwinnable battles.

      • hackguhaseo says:

        Nah, you’re not alone Joe. Personally, I think the company should be allowed to just go ahead and build the condo. It’s not like Rizal’s ghost is going to go over there to haunt it or anything. So it’s right behind the monument. So what? Filipinos are just being touchy about the subject as always.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        If DMCI ends up having to pay huge financial penalties, it is because they chose to bypass the law, Joe. There is an ordinance in Manila that specifically limits the height of structures to nine stories. This is the main bone of contention. The ordinance has not been amended nor repealed. Why and how DMCI was able to get a construction permit that allowed them to erect a 49-story condominium building is beyond me. To me, this is the greater issue.

        • Joe America says:

          I see that the Supreme Court will have a session next week on the matter. They’ve called for inputs from experts and interested parties. That makes me think it is not as simple as it might appear to be, that DMCI had ill intent.

          • Jose Guevarra says:

            I’m willing to give DMCI some benefit of the doubt here. Maybe they did test the ground on which TDM is being constructued and found it to be “safe” provided they build in some safeguards as well, which of course will require money. Maybe they were able to “convince” certain Manila officials to give them some special exemption from the city so they can build TDM as high as the eyes can see. And so you are right, things are not as simple as they seem to be. The question, for me anyway, is why? Why grant this permit (with or without the benefit of an exemption) when the law says otherwise? If DMCI wins its case, it will certainly reek of the monied having its cake and eating it too.

  2. Yvonne says:

    I have serious concern about the structural integrity of Torre De Manila (TDM). Newspaper accounts of its construction state that the original plan called for 19 stories and the building foundation was poured during the term of former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim. It is during the incumbency of Mayor Joseph Estrada that a decision was made to extend TDM to 49 stories high; apparently the construction was halted by the Supreme Court at a time when TDM is already at 40+ floors.

    Will the building’s foundation poured early on during the time of Alfredo Lim support the massive extension of TDM to 49 stories high, a decision made and approved later on during Estrada’s term?

    Considering the proximity of TDM to Manila Bay and it underlying softer soil formation permeated by sea water, was there ever an invironmental impact study made on the massive height extension as to its potential hazards to lives and properties on its surrounding neighborhood?

    • NHerrera says:

      yvonne, that is a good set of questions on structural integrity. Beyond the emotional issue associated with the Rizal monument, that question is best settled by a set of professional-expert structural engineers authorized to check the matter. Unsettled, it is a matter of life and death not only to the tower’s eventual residents but the people surrounding the tower.

    • Joe America says:

      That is a legitimate concern that ought to be understood.

    • BFD says:

      I agree with Yvonne on her fears on this. I remember a pastor of Cathedral of Praise in Taft Avenue, which is not far from Torre De Manila, he used to tell his congregation that the soil in which its building stands upon is a very murky, soft soil, and this is just 3- or 4-story edifice. What’s more with a 49-story building, you do have to consider placing a better and stronger foundation at the VERY START of the project, otherwise, it’s Ruby Tower all over again and the return of the finger pointing among officials.

    • neo canjeca says:

      I am like to be Ian McKellen, the new Holmes to want him say: “Elementary My dear Watson. This is not about anything else but probably about Cash not reaching the proper pockets. In a city adjacent to Manila any additional floor to a building means free land area equivalent to each floor area which brings lots of cash to approving authorities.

      Technically, Manila’s CBD has hydrosol, a soft parent material of soils. Manila because of possible earthquakes must grow downward and sideward instead of upwards. Not so for Quezon City whose soil parent material is escumbro and Makati City which have as parent material igneous rock (molten magma) locally known as adobe should go and develop skyward. Manila’s CBD should have been developed as city of canals like Venice and have underground trains network instead of LRT; Quezon and Makati cities are for high rise buildings and elevated train network. Manila mayors any and at all times should remember the Ruby Tower.

      So Joe Am, the ruckus or brouhaha about this tall building have positive repercussions greater than your observation and concern. Unknowingly some people are thinking that smoking cures cancer.

      • Joe America says:

        Thanks for the geology lesson. I wonder what is the latest in preparation of Manila for global warming and seas that are a meter higher, soon.

        I’m definitely picking a high rise in Makati when our family moves to Manila. I figure it will be about the size of a broom closet. That’s what I can afford.

    • Vicara says:

      At the Earthquake Resilience Conference last month, involving both private and public sectors, Manila was identified as one of the areas in the NCR with relatively high liquefaction potential (citing a Philvolcs study). Also of concern is its population density, the highest in the metropolitan area.

    • HighFive says:

      I agree with you Yvonne and I believe the depth of the foundation must commensurate with the height of the building. I think super tall structures would need a super deep foundation as well.

  3. NHerrera says:

    In the context of these five country concerns,

    – Poverty/ Education
    – Mindanao Peace and Order
    – Climate Change
    – China
    – Election 2016

    the issue of Torre de Manila inspires at most a pesky itch in me.

    • Yvonne says:

      I think there is a bigger hidden issue on this matter which is the potential culpability of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). This agency is tasked with the approval of condominium plans, including the issuance of development permits, conversion approvals, alteration of plans, etc.

      Guess who is the head of HLURB – Jejomar Binay!

      • NHerrera says:

        Now that bit of info changes the flavor of my comment. It is related to my item in the List — Election 2016

      • Joe America says:

        Most interesting. I might have to re-write the blog.

      • neo canjeca says:

        I read in the blogs sometime last year that Makati’s controversial parking building could have been built in the middle of the Pasig River without spending that much on the building foundation where so much funds went under.

      • Yvonne says:

        I just read from gmanetwork.com that for its July 21 oral arguments on the suspension of the TDM construction, the SC invited three amici curiae to attend, one of whom is a representative from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), designated by its chairperson, Jejomar Binay.

        Now, this is starting to get more interesting.

    • Joe America says:

      🙂 Have you tried flea powder? Within election 2016 is the idea that a guy of Binay’s character and credentials could be allowed on the ballot. Now there is something to raise a fist about, that our election and government bodies are so devoid of ethical integrity. What, all the lawyers around here can’t write language that would ban people with severe and verified credentials that would humiliate the nation if he is allowed to run? They can write libel laws that defend a person’s honor, they should be able to write election laws that defend the nation’s honor.

      • NHerrera says:

        I agree. But we will be up against the Roques and the Colmenares’ who will use the lawyer’s “innocent until proven guilty” mantra and its variation.

        I will try that flea powder for the itch. 🙂

        • neo canjeca says:

          JA and NH about flea powder about the flea powder you would think twice if you have seen the flea under an electron microscope (haven’t Googled though). It’s body armor is thicker than a WWII Sherman tank it will survive a bazooka attack. Don’t know though its prowess against today’s RPGs and rocket launchers.

  4. Ouili says:

    if some people dont like the torre de manille as background of Gat RIZAL a little thinking is needed …. construct a background they like….so that the torre can not be seen?….

  5. NHerrera says:


    I am glad you have decided to post the earlier intended last political blog to some later date. I am sure with some more data from events leading to the SONA, you will have a more interesting, juicy last political blog. Cheers.

  6. “If you are going to sacrifice somebody, make it the Binays” – comes across in the liquid article as a kind of a given – part of critical juncture or path dependence?

    I like how the matter was discussed as it amplifies the idiocy of our regulatory processes (i.e. a result of rent-seeking or ‘capture’).

    Somebody already said this or view to this effect: in Andres Bonifacio’s monument is a dirty urban sprawl and nobody did raise a howl and yet in Rizal’s, everybody else cries wolf? Oh yes, just because of some hard-headed instigator who can launch a well-published protest all by himself, possibly a con artist?

    • BFD says:

      When traitors are executed in BagumBayan, they let the traitor face Manila Bay. It’s a documented fact that our National Historical Commission of the Philippines have turned their back to.

      In the above analogy, we are reconstructing what the Filipinos have done with Rizal, shoot him in the back. Please remember that it was the Filipino Guardia Civil that fired on Rizal on that fateful day. The Spanish Guardia Civil were only their back as a backup if they fail in their mission.

      • neo canjeca says:

        LUNETA is so Filipino sa isip sa salita at sa gawa, sa kinis at libag ng balat. Isang bansa isang diwa. BFD, Luneta has been a park for my teen age years, depicted vividly in Rico J’s ditty, in the melodious shout SITSARON by vendors edging trysting lovers to go below the belt. Luneta is culture, is soap opera and a setting for heroism and murders of the Chinese by for others and for their very own kind by its own cops, Luneta is where Rizal watches 7/24 the reasons for his fate. What is happening to us today should be seen in Luneta’s predictive embrace, but the crystal ball is dark shrouded by the eternal fog hiding avarice of our leaders. Joe Am in Luneta and in all parts of the country foreigners should mind their minds.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, the offense was created by Filipinos and I am siding with those Filipinos who want to make money and play a role in the vibrant economy. I am not creating some kind of international incident by defending a segment of the Filipino community. If my writing style is too irreverent, that is another matter, don’t read. But don’t make it a matter of “foreigner” insensitivity. It is a pro-business vs. cultural heritage issue and there is no nationality at all to it.

          • neo canjeca says:

            If I may Joe Am the fingers are like eagle eyes can point, see front and back. It’s mostly the obverse: local sensitivity. It twists and turns. There is no corruption if there is no business. Good business begets dire corruption. No business no corruption involving big cash. I am like a partner saying it’s me, us not you. It’s slippery when it is both the singer and the song and how he sings it. It belittles the belief that a prophet is not believe in his village like Islam’s Mohammed. Jesus Christ demonstrated it when he got crowned with thorns, stoned, whipped and crucified not in his village of Nazareth. What’s the beef when all of these are nothing but words. If it is not words of swords.

        • BFD says:

          Luneta is where Rizal watches 7/24 the reasons for his fate.

          Nice words, but you didn’t get what I was aiming for. It’s been Rizal’s wish that he face his executioners since in his heart he’s not a traitor. Even in the end, when he was already shot, with his last dying breath, he turned around so he could die not as a traitor, but as a hero of his people, the Filipinos. There’s a great symbolism there.

          I grew up in Luneta, and to tell you the truth, it’s only now that I see the symbolism of Rizal facing the sea. It’s as if his ideals doesn’t matter to us anymore because of the corruption that its Filipino leaders are inflicting to its citizenry.

          • edgar lores says:

            Thanks for the symbolism.

            It bothers me that the erectors of the monument chose to ignore Rizal’s last act of volition.

            The monument was constructed during the American colonial period.

          • Bert says:

            Why settle for a symbolic movement when it’s so easy to do the real thing? Make the monument do a turn around by mechanical means. Two birds with one stone: 1. You do away with symbolic imagination, 2. You won’t be needing to take down the DMCI building.

            • Bert says:

              Oooops, too late, the idea is passe already. Mary Grace P. Gonzales beat me to it, pls. see her post below at July 14, 1:34 pm. Sorry.

  7. That’s a simplistic and reductionist way of presenting the issues, Joe, DMCI did not just try to construct a building for business, it knew what steps it was taking even before day 1. Good business does not ignore zoning regulations and does not repeatedly seek approval by officials and units that make different decisions, that’s taking advantage of the incoherence that should have been helped in resolution, not manipulation for business.

    • Joe America says:

      Are those known facts, Rowie, that DMCI forced their way onto this site? I wonder why they went to the trouble. Cheap land? Can you direct us to the details of the transaction?

    • neo canjeca says:

      Simplification sometimes works better than amplification or elaboration. Simplified to their descending level of abstraction: morality is refined into laws into policy into regulations and regulations refined finally and end up as RULES. NO SMOKING is the straight unbendable atom of the moral about good health. No two storey buildings is the rule in US communities of ranch style houses. No more than 8-storey buildings anywhere is the regulations (I supposed) NOT THE RULE for constructing buildings in Makati City. It is just a regulation NOT A RULE so pay up front if you want to construct 9 or more storey buildings.

      The ten commandments supposedly etched in stone are not laws or policy or regulations.
      They are deity RULES. Deviate from or break them and you got it made permanent till heaven or hell or worst Limbo. That’s why the “rule of law” invokers can make life more difficult sometimes in some places or nation-wide.

  8. Jean says:

    I agree 100%. I think a significant number of Filipinos are just too bound by the constraints of tradition. To them, I say when reviewing anything traditional, it would help immensely if one were to first, as with law, focus on the spirit of its conception/creation. The way things stand now, I feel as though people are putting too much emphasis on the mechanics.

    So we have a national site, which traditionally, had a unhindered view of the horizon. Now, the national site is still in place, but the view has… a building… blocking the uh sky… oh God… wait oh no… the end of times is upon us… such is heralded by errr… progress.


    Should the high rise developers’ petition be granted does the unequivocally equate to us respecting Rizal or remembering Rizal and his accomplishments any less… I didn’t think so.

    Rizal was an advocate of progress, it is my firm belief that he would be shamed by his so-called and self anointed champions of today.

    Let the building rise, let more of them follow suit. See the nation progress… that’s how you honor Rizal’s memories.

  9. I have come across this comment from PDI. Isn’t it a Solomonic solution?

    “Liten shadow

    I have suggested this before in my previous postings.

    Make the RIZAL monument rotate just like a rotating restaurant. It will stand on a rotating platform / foundation. It will rotate very slowly. You can have infinite background scenes. Also symbolic – how Rizal turned around to face his executioners. Rizal for sure will not get bored already as he gets to see the overall picture on what is happening to his dear country. This is going to be a world class tourist attraction.

    All costs shouldered by DMCI. Win-win for all parties involved.”

    My take:

    Yes, it will be a win win solution…the 49 storey-building will be saved from demolition (if ever a ruling will come out to this effect)… the Rizal monument will be saved from a photo bomber..wait lang for the nice background before you click…

    DMCI and Manila City should share the cost.

    • Joe America says:

      Still much ado, to me, about nothing. I don’t go to museums for the view and if I visited Rizal, I’d pay my respects “Hey, thanks, Doc!” and likely be looking to make sure no pickpockets were about. The surroundings? I’d not go there for that.

      • Some people think that’s not about nothing and while I am bothered by the concerns expressed by Yvonne on the structural soundness of the building and the possible corruption issues (which should be extensively investigated, (paging HLURB, COA and Manila City Hall Engineering Dept), I am for the full construction to go on, to complete the building (if it is determined that it is earthquake safe).

        I am for a middle ground solution, to satisfy issues on both parties, a win-win one should be found. I cannot just take for granted the feelings of culture sensitive souls out there, they should be heard too.

        • Joe America says:

          Two meaningful comments I’ve received on Facebook were: (1) cultural heritage is important (from Jim Paredes who says I am wrong), and (2) the monument represents Filipinos recognizing and being proud of their identity as Filipinos. Well, those matters certainly underscore the POSITIVE emotional engagement over the sight lines surrounding the monument. But I get confused as to what sight lines have to do with the issue, versus how people live. If a building in the distance is offensive to their cultural passion, what is corruption? What is Binay? What are the Chinese sitting on Philippine rocks in the West Philippine Sea? Are corruption and favors and impunity a part of the culture that is to be preserved and respected? So we teach kids to worship Dr. Rizal as a near deity, representing the heart and soul of the Filipino, but then we dump them into the corrupt pits of real life and this is the best we can make of Rizal’s ideals? So, like Jesus, we worship him for show, kiss the Pope’s hand, and allow a guy like Binay to run for office? I am mightily confused as to what this passion is intended to accomplish.

          • Jim Paredes of the Walk the Talk Movement? Well, he has passions, we can see that, one addressed against Binay and his evil deeds and schemes, another is this, our cultural heritage. Like me, I am against Marcos and his cronies, Estrada, Arroyo, Binay and all the plunderers out there. We may have different passions, may express them simultaneously, kinda like multi tasking.

            I may not participate physically due to health issues, I cannot walk my talk, but I try do something, no matter how tiny that effort is, just to express my passions. Our heroes, Rizal and Ninoy Aquino were able to influence the thinking of most of us in their respective generations although they were not physically among their countrymen like Bonifacio and the others who died in the actual battle.

            But I am digressing…

            I reiterate my hope to find a middle ground solution in this matter. We will aspire to have a prosperous Philippines and try to do something to achieve those aspirations, we may at the same time, try not to ignore our cultural heritage.

            Just wishing at the same time that those shaking their fists against TDM shake their fists and raise their voices against Binay and the other plunderers, too.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, that Jim Paredes, who reads regularly and shares a lot of the posts he agrees with ahahahaha, but not this one. He is a good guy, definitely. Superior patriot.

          • If I may, we should not teach our kids to worship and adore Rizal, that would be idolatry. Much like what we are cautioned by our church not to worship and adore Mother Mary, the blessed mother of Jesus as she is just one of us, a creation of our Creator, Our Lord God. I have heard of groups of people who worship and adore Rizal, Rizalists, if I remember it correctly, and IMHO, they are completely wrong, they are sincere in their belief, but they are sincerely wrong.

            • Joe America says:

              I agree, and in a way, I am poking at the heritage people who are so offended. What exactly would please them? How can they move their heritage forward? Idolatry? Or clean up corruption. That condo building is irrelevant to the matter of heritage and values, I think. Deeds are important to respecting them.

    • Vicara says:

      A friend reminded me of a story about the French author Guy de Maupassant ,who supposedly ate dinner every night in the restaurant on the upper deck of the Eiffel Tower. When asked why he did this he replied: “It’s the only place in Paris where you can’t see the Eiffel Tower.” Here’s hoping the Torre de Manila has a cheap cafeteria.

      Incidentally, Paris is in the process of granting approval for a 43-storey building, first highrise to be given approval in 40 years. You may say, Jean and Joe, that Paris can afford to be so choosy, since it is a prosperous, settled society. But it wasn’t always like that. Less than 250 years ago, it was more chaotic, squalid, and badly administered than Manila today, with average citizens reduced to rabble. There was revolution, of course. But afterwards, what was integral to the building of a progressive more equitable society was the creation of open, orderly, beautiful civic spaces–not just floor space, but upwards and all around. Manila had that once, and from all the accounts of those who lived through WWII and the post-war period, the near-total destruction of the city was a factor in the social and political degeneration which followed, the effects of which are still being felt. It’s not just about Rizal and statues and museums.

      The current Torre de Manila mess is the result of carelessness, poor administration and (alleged) duplicity on the part of officials and developers. But it is more than that, and as an issue it strikes a deep psychic nerve that is not just Filipino “emotionalism.” Joe, you are a mega-rational person, and that quality is precisely makes your blog posts so bracing and attracts so many readers. That Spock-like perspective is needed in national discourse. Yes, FDI and jobs and the creation of commercial spaces are vitally important (and I for one think it would be great to have an expanding, well-regulated mining industry), but as causes go… give this particular building a pass. There are other stymied development projects worth focusing on.

      • Joe America says:

        Here’s an idea. Build the tower out but require DMCI to rename it, “The National Monument to Philippine Government Carelessness”. It can stand as a stark and somewhat embarrassing reminder that we can do things a lot better than this.

      • sonny says:

        I like the de Maupassant anecdote at the Eiffel. T Y. I have to read “The Piece of String” to recall.

    • edgar lores says:

      Ahaha! You’ll have Rizal literally turning in his grave.

      Figuratively, Rizal may not mind… and may indeed enjoy the posthumous ride.

      (His bones are interred in the monument.)

      • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

        Yep, edgar, literally turning, via a revolving platform….symbolic, too, eh, BFD, as his last act while alive is to turn to face his executioners, also to perpetually survey the park, the scene of his martyrdom.

  10. hackguhaseo says:

    For me, the only things that companies should be screened for when building buildings is the science. Is it a safe place to build? Will it cause any untoward environmental, social or economic problems? Did you use the right methods and materials to build the building?

    If the companies check out on all those questions, then by all means, let them build. Seriously, Filipinos should get over themselves. Look at New York City. It’s a thriving place and it’s full of gloriously tall, elegant buildings. I’d rather we have a city like that.

    • Joe America says:

      Welcome to the Society of Philippine Progress. See, I can’t say that exactly “We should get over ourselves.” But that is spot on. We can never have it exactly our way. Perfection does not exist. Decisions are made that we disagree with. High rises will be built in Manila. Better to start laying a better infrastructure than bickering over what we would ideally like but can’t have.

  11. inquirercet says:

    The problems stems from our lax, or dare i say corrupt, implementation of zoning laws. A system that will allow the perpetual division a small lot to two or more lots. So much to the point where what was designed to house one family now houses 10. Not minding the capacity of the local roads, power grid, sewage system, public transport and ect… This same system that allowed dmci to build higher than it should. Is dmci liable? In my opinion yes. As i see it the enabler and the enablee should all shoulder the cost for the “mistake”. Dmci is not stupid and i’m sure as day, they knew exactly what they were trying to get away with.

    As for the progress vs aestethics / historical value debate, i do not believe that those things are mutually exclusive. In fact i think all those things along with a lot of common sense should go together like peanut butter and jelly. Lastly, this case somehow reminded me of a man who let his gut grow to the point where he lost the ability to see his ” digit”. From there it was a fast spiral down for his health and emotional well being.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, the cultural mechanisms of local government do not always favor good thinking, where community interests rises above special interests. I think the protesters would create a lot more value if they protested for a national land use law that mandated the disciplines you cite, and the protection of national heritage sites. And the protection of the seas and forests and water reserves and agricultural lands.

  12. Ateneo graduate Rizal would probably have reserved himself a condo, in the Torre de Manila.

    Why not see the new as something complementing the old. Rizal and the tower behind him – cool!

  13. Emotions or not, that eyesore has got to go. Not just because it destroyed most views of one of the country’s most famous landmarks, but because the building symbolizes what’s wrong with this country. A building, built on a zone which was not intended for high-rises, apparently even being structurally deficient (if Yvonne’s comment is to be believed), being built despite protests, all because of greed. Greed of politicians, and greed of corporations. It just shows how corruption Filipinos will do anything just to reach their objectives. And worse, now opportunist politicians such as Bagatsing are clinging into the issue in the hope that they will gain enough “pogi” points to raise their election chances. As you said, we can mvoe on, but we can’t move on properly if we can’t fix the problems that we are facing.

    • Joe America says:

      Good luck fixing history. Idealism versus pragmatics. I’d still prefer that effort went forward and into generating wealth and good future planning. But you speak for many many people, I’m sure.

    • sonny says:

      I am with MKL in this case.

      TDM must go. And “The National Monument to Philippine Government Carelessness” marker can be assigned to an appropriate space with an appropriate mini-park.

      OR demolish the whole Luneta Park and allow in its place whatever establishments can and will redound to our dedication to progress. In this way, demolition companies can be spawned to service building constructions that may come and go as “necessity” and progress will dictate. Rizal’s statue, Daniel Burnham and Howard Taft be damned. China is at our doorsteps anyway.

    • edgar lores says:

      Following BFD’s comment on symbolism, perhaps the building should remain… precisely as the tallest symbol of what is wrong with the country.

      • sonny says:

        I thought about making the building a resettlement housing for the poor instead of tearing it down. But on second thought, a 7.3 earthquake is too much to even imagine.

        • Those who will insist that the building is earthquake proof even if proven otherwise, should volunteer to do business, conduct meetings there, and reside there… 24/7 after paying the current / prevailing market price for each unit.

  14. onik says:

    What baffles me was how DMCI ignored the NCCA when they issued a cease-and-desist order early this year at past halfway point of the building. They only stopped when it was the Supreme Court who finally recognized the jurisdiction of NCCA in June 2015 to issue a CDO and ordered DMCI to stop building. How do you stop them when they just built the last floor? Now, they sued NCCA for damages? After DMCI treated NCCA’s CDO powers as worthless by continuing to build, they sue NCCA for damages?Just because the Supreme Court recognized NCCA jurisdiction on the matter? Yes, DMCI will follow the law to the letter. Beyond the legal aspect, cultural sensitivity and nationalism are farthest from their head. They could have been prudent with their actions when the issue first came out.

    • Joe America says:

      From a businessman’s perspective, meeting the financial targets is of paramount importance. If the NCCA’s authority was unclear and abiding by the ruling would cause great financial harm, ANY businessman would proceed rather than bring the project in at a loss. If the Supreme Court created or creates new law with its ruling, of course DMCI will work to make their shareholders whole. I’t like the President argued on DAP, hey, there was no “no parking sign” in place, and now that my car is here, you put in a sign and fine me for parking there. A businessman’s job is not to take care of the arts or presume laws where none exist, but to make money. That’s how the Philippines takes care of its poor, by respecting that, encouraging it, and doing more of it. Not stopping it.

  15. karl garcia says:

    If not for the news about structures getting destroyed because of continuous rain and the ominous warning by Yyvonne,I would want the construction to continue.If the project gets abandoned it will decay and that would be the real eyesore.If demolition is demanded by a group,good luck with that.

    • Joe America says:

      Right. And who pays for that, in the end? Poor people.

    • chempo says:

      Similar eyesores exist everywhere in metro manila. I see the ugly abandoned Enrille’s project along Ayala Ave everyday. TDM is just another inventory item.

      • karl garcia says:

        Ah the Enrile monument, maybe Ongpin willl buy it,he bought the long abandoned Puyat building and turned it into Alphaland Southgate.The TDM will remain there unless someone blows it up.

        • BFD says:

          Manila is home to unfinished buildings, by the way, which is an eyesore. When I used to go to a high school in Taft Avenue, there was this unfinished building we call Hotel Enrico. I don’t know what happened to it at this time, but because it was left to decay, it’s an ugly eyesore that blotted the skyline of Herran.

  16. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “I also don’t understand the Supreme Court and Legislature always meddling with progress …” – JOEAM

    Filipinos not only have a say in every government functions, they meddle. If they are not heard, they go coup-de-t’at. Trillanes is the byproduct of it. Coup-d’-t’at eventually downgraded pathetically to misunderstanding on bar tabs at Peninsula hotel. To this day, Trillanes has not paid the bar tabs by his thirsty fellow soldiers. Ran for Senate while ensconced in his “cell”, condoned and pardoned after he won a seat. Sereno was very quiet. Extremely quiet. Well, she was not Chief of Supreme Court at that time.

    In the history of the Philippines, President Corazon Aquino has had the most failed coup-d’-t’aters under her wings.

    • Joe America says:

      I was thinking yesterday, it is essential to elect Trillanes as VP. Doesn’t matter who wins the presidency. The military is on the side of justice. The “people’s” real representative (unpurchased) will take care of things.

  17. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    When it comes to corruption, Filipinos of color are ingenious.

    They use NGOs to funnel PDAF.
    No more PDAF? No problem. Overprice it!
    Overprice is so blase, try this, approve building permit. Build it, crooks will come. Half-way thru finishing touches, question the height. Grease money will flow.

    In the very near future, they will tap El Chapo’s contractors to tunnel to Malacanang’s bathroom.

    This I have to repeat, The Mestizo Class, The Colonizer Class are the most honest people in the Philippines. They colonized the Philippines to change the colored Filipinos and inculcate COLONIAL MENTALITY.

    To this day, COLONIAL MENTALITY is not absorbed. The Filipinos are still crooks. The Colonizers are still EXTREMELY HONEST.

    Despite crooked Filipinos lambasting COLONIAL MENTALITY for what they are, DO NOT BE FOOLED !!!!

    COLONIAL MENTALITY IS GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY. Just look at Mestizo Colonizer Class, THEY ARE HONEST. The colonized are not.

    Maybe the colored Filipinos are just afraid of the Mestizo Colonizer Class. They even adored the looks of Piolo and the wife of Chiz Escudero. And of course, they drop and roll when they see the beauty of Korina Sanchez.

    Korina Sanchez cannot be found. According to her publicist, hairstylist and beautician she is taking her masters degree so when Mar becomes president she will not only be running the Malacanang Palace household, she will also run the country from her kitchen.

  18. maya pula says:

    in principle, which the supreme court is all about, the torre is questionable since it involves space occupied thus, is a questionable process akin to land-grabbing which is alarming all over the Philippines, with the well connected having the upper-hand. as we speak it is happening all over like a plague. only a transparent and fair judicial system can correct this. those of us who are directly victims of this know full well. we also understand the compromise it entails , sadly, progress knows no pity, only the powerful fully benefits.

  19. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Jose Rizal is irrelevant. He was chosen by the Americans. Because if Filipinos were to chose their hero, they would have revolted against each other’s heroes.

    The Filipinos has spoken. Manny Pacquiao is their Hero !!! When he fights, Filipinos voluntarily stay at home. When Manny losses, Filipinos cry with him. When he speaks, Filipinos listen. When he only attended 3 congressional sessions while receiving years pay, Filpinos forgive him. When he did not pay his taxes, so what? Everybody cheats on their taxes. He is not a crook. He use his money to build hospitals.

    Manny Pacquiao without serving in the Military he is bestowed as Brigaider General
    Manny Pacquiao not graduating high school he is honored as Doctor of Humanities
    Without military experience and high school Diploma he became a 3-time Congressman
    His brothers, sisters and wife who never went to school became elected officials


    Let us have that Torre de Manila the Tower of Babel

    Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.

    • BFD says:

      And look where they ended up, scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth, worse they cannot understand each other…. Do you want that?

  20. lilit says:

    From what I can remember from news accounts, there was bad faith involved. DMCI was granted a building permit for less storeys; they wanted to build higher so they applied for an exemption. But meanwhile, they were already digging the foundation for the 49 storeys. You wrote about impunity. If we’re to do something about it, we have to start somewhere.

    Also, it’s about time Filipinos started caring about our heritage. I don’t know when you first arrived in the Philippines, but we’ve already lost so much in the past 20 or 30 years. Like the old Jai-Alai fronton which, ironically, used to be right in front of Torre de Manila. So I hope they save that El Hogar Building in Escolta too.

    And I don’t know if you know, the Rizal Monument is not just a monument. It’s his tomb. His mortal remains are in there.

    And speaking of emotionalism, Joe, what do you think about the recent brouhaha in the US about the Confederate flag? It’s just a piece of cloth.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, it is always possible to build a cathedral about the tomb, or a temple. Elevate the level of adoration if that is what it is about. I personally think millions of kids get inspired by Rizal and then go off to enter the real world. I’d rather we fix the real world, so that Rizal’s inspiration means something in the end, not just the beginning. A part of the real world is not understanding the financial impacts of decisions which ALWAYS flow down to penalize the poor. A mistake was made. Learn, correct if it makes sense to, but stop this incessant running to the Supreme Court with every objection. Time is money. Time is justice. Fix THAT system too. The Rizal memorial is so abused by these incomprehensible ways of conducting business. Look forward. Grow. Go go go. Don’t get distracted to bicker over that which is done.

      • lilit says:

        “A mistake was made. Learn, correct if it makes sense to, but stop this incessant running to the Supreme Court with every objection. Time is money. Time is justice. Fix THAT system too.”

        Yes, but the mistake was not the honest “Oh, did you say 9? We thought you said 49!” type. If I remember correctly, there appears to be evidence that at the time they applied for an exemption, they had already overshot the original height. Meaning they had already set the foundation for a higher structure, as if they were sure they will providentially — wink-wink — get their exemption. So the mistake is, they thought they were going to get away with it. Meanwhile, Mary Jane Veloso is in death row and her only mistake was, she didn’t know she was carrying drugs.

        I also recall there’s a similar aspect in the BSP-Alphaland deal, wherein the land was reclassified so taller towers can be built. Nobody’s asking for those to be torn down, true, but aren’t we all (or many of us) shouting for repercussions? If it’s wrong there, why should DMCI get a pass?

        Will it cause a chill among businessmen? Maybe. Probably. But hopefully only among those who will go, “Curses! Now what do we do with all these bribery bombs we just bought from the Acme Co.?” while stroking their cat.

        As a final point: I don’t know where you live in the Philippines and how long you’ve been there, but I’m guessing you have a view of the ocean. Or some mountains. (Nah, I’m betting ocean — sand, surf, sky, the works!) What if, some morning, you wake up and someone had put up an oil platform or transmission tower — not exactly blocking your view, but enough to mar it (See how I sneaked in Mar? Hah! I crack myself up!). It provides employment, and it already cost its builders some serious cash, but wouldn’t you want it out of there?

        Or would you rotate your house?

        • Joe America says:

          As for the particulars of the transaction, legal or not, I think the Supreme Court will sort that out. But I would note that wheeling and dealing, favors granted and received, is the Filipino operating style, in government and business. Why, all of a sudden, do we want to measure DMCI by the American standard? I’m guessing they feel they did no wrong, why are they being punished. The mistake is in the eyes of the idealists, and is being judged after the fact. The idealists should have been working to do a better job on Land Use regulations (who is the senator who is pushing this monument complaint)?? And in cleaning up the culture of corruption (has she protested Binay?)

          I live with a view of mountains and trees, all obscured by trees. The land is one/fourth hectare, large enough to be a self-contained park. If someone built a large building or transmission tower or oil derrick, I would not like it, but it is their property. If it put out pollutants or noise, I’d complain and the city would do something about it, as it already has noise pollution standards in place. As for views, I can walk 50 meters, and God’s glory spreads out before me. The Philippines has no lack of views. I don’t know why they have to come to us if we can so easily go to them.

          • lilit says:

            “I’m guessing they feel they did no wrong, why are they being punished.”

            Isn’t this like Jinggoy asking, “Why just us?”

            • Joe America says:

              The difference is in what they know. Jinggoy likely knows he stole money. DMCI knows it followed the rules. But the Supreme Court may help us sort that out. I am only making assumptions.

              • lilit says:

                I was going to walk away but something bothered me so much i had to go back:

                Why is it, if it’s wheeling and dealing, favors granted and received, it’s the “Filipino operating style”, but if it’s otherwise, it’s the “American standard”?

              • Joe America says:

                It is the American standard in the political and business arena, but the latitudes for doing it are more tightly controlled by laws and by systems that punish those who circumvent the laws. Those following the Filipino operating style display a greater willingness to break the laws, and the hideously poor system of investigation, adjudication and punishment via the courts allows that to be. Ethical standards are also higher in the US so a person of Mr. Binay’s character would be hounded from his party lest the party go down in flames. But here, political parties are not based on values or platform, but personalities, so no group is shamed by Mr. Binay’s skilled operation within the Philippine style code. They’ll risk staying with him in case he wins, and they can grab a piece of the Filipino style pie.

                I’m glad you came back. It is an excellent question.

    • Joe America says:

      The Confederate flag is indeed a symbol with a lot of emotion attached. The emotion is positive to a large group of people and negative to most. With the recent slaughter of innocents in a rage at a church, the larger group effectively said to the smaller, keep it to yourself. It is taunting and dangerous. Take it down. The cost of cranking down the piece of cloth was insignificant. The gain in wholesomeness huge. The cost of taking down the condo tower will be huge. Nothing will change that really matters.

    • karl garcia says:

      Landmarks,old buildingsand those part of our heritage.All the seven wonders are all gone,and people still hear or know about them,thanks to stories and paintings,museums and lifesize imitations.

    • sonny says:

      Now that our government buildings have been moved. I was and am still hoping to have a Luneta campus of true national memories/monuments (like Washington DC), e.g. a memorial to the unknown victims of the Philippine-American War, a single memorial to the guerillas of WW-II, a memorial to the victims of the Iwabuchi Manila Massacre.

      • karl garcia says:

        Supreme court is going to BGC,Customs will move to somewhere else,and the building will be turned into a museum.Sonny the American cemetary in BGC is the closes thing to what you have in mind,but you already know that because you lived in ft Mckinley,back then.But if it is like the Washington monument and the Lincoln memorial,maybe Luneta is way too small,but I cant tell just from visualizing it.

        • sonny says:

          Caution: I might go off topic.

          Karl, the whole idea of national remembering is a tricky thing: size, who/what/why/ how to include & exclude, for example. The value is obvious, we need to remember a common national register of the country’s dynamism – past, present, future. Our economic cares and concerns has an obvious priority. But so does our national soul. This must forever speak to us, the present and to our future generations.

          Just to mention another must-do “thingy” that requires a single civic resolve is how to best prepare to minimize the bad effects of the typhoons that come at us like clockwork. A classmate and I reduced this, among other windmills we joust with, to a civil engineering problem.

          We came out with a partial solution that befits our senior status: a thought experiment, just like Einstein was wont to do. Goes like this: Put up a prize money to challenge an individual or group to design solutions for problems like the two above. (I do realize we’re off to follow the yellow brick road and yes, we do have a lot of time in our hands 🙂 )

          • karl garcia says:

            At least Sonny,notwithstanding the quixotic stuff, I see we have to enjoy life to the fullest.
            If you go on with that,you wil get proposals galore,until someone mentions the legal hurdles,all because they did not follow the yellow brick road.

            • sonny says:

              Ah, you’re truly a romantic at heart, Karl. Difference from me, you have a healthy amount of cerebral gravitas which I can only emulate, like my classmate. He was quite serious about the prize money scheme. Although he retired with a good portfolio, he wanted our classmates to go with the project as a class contribution to the future. (BTW, he graduated Chem-Eng, at DLS/Taft, MBA/UP) I knew he had thoughts beyond the drawing board because he was the corporate legal/technical v-pres for Illinois Gas.

              I’m still keeping a watchful eye on this.

              • Karl garcia says:

                thanks on cerebral gravitas. Coming from someone who completed many degrees. Me i just had many courses,because,i shifted then expelled due to low grades,had to shift schools and enroll in another course.

    • sonny says:

      “… it’s about time Filipinos started caring about our heritage.”

      I agree a 1000% lilit. It’s never too late to do this. Mandatory field trips and multi-media exposure to our history is a good start. I suspect this might already be on-going. At this point in time it is an extreme disservice to our youth if this is not happening. Training the trainors would be another essential part of the educational agenda.

  21. manuelbuencamino says:

    Nothing but an Instagram controversy. Go to the park and you won’t see the building like it appears in those photos…

  22. I’m aghast why is there picture taking in a national monument for our national hero. This is not right. I move for a ban.

    If I was from DMCI I’d troll all these people by using resources to create a no photography in Rizal Park law.

    This should be a non issue if not for the corruption part.

    • Joe America says:

      I wonder if the selfie generation is most offended. It would be an interesting survey. Yes, if it is a place of honor, why is a photo required. People don’t usually take photos in a church service, only when doing tourism visits. You are right. I think motives are getting mixed up. If there is corruption, or if the building is on unsafe ground with unsafe foundation, those are different matters.

      Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and costs are running up.

      And the valuable time of senators and the Supreme Court is getting diverted.

    • I can see nothing wrong in picture taking, local and foreign tourists do that. We did it after touring Rizal’s residence in Calamba, the great monument they erected in that city, as well as the one in Luneta Park all done in the centennial year, June 19.

      What I can see wrong is in contemplating a ban.

      • What I was trying to say is that different people different reverence. What happens when taking a picture becomes intolerable for a small but powerful group and they move for banning picture taking. Everything the anti TDM guys said against the TDM will in effect be true for the Picture takers.

        Banning the picture statement is just me trying to illustrate a point. Something I seem to suck at.

        The other point of joe is why the passion against a perceived desecration of the Rizal monument when what is more important is the desecration of the ideals that Rizal died for?

        Save for Jim who is walking the talk where is the outrage against Nognog? Ms Pia Cayetano?

        Remember charlesenglund. Why aren’t we as mad as him with the inequality that is ripping apart our nation. With the quality of leadership that we have right now? (pardon to OMB Morales/Rogelio Singson/Leila Delima and all the other true servant leaders)

        • lilit says:

          “Banning the picture statement is just me trying to illustrate a point. Something I seem to suck at.”

          Haha! Hard to do sarcasm on print, ain’t it?

        • Got you, Gian.

          For all those tourists who are enthusiastic about taking pictures of monuments and views like me, I re posted an opinion posted in PDI (above) to ake the RIZAL monument rotate just like a revolving restaurant (the current Pasig admin is renovating our revolving restaurant).

          I echo your question, where is the outrage against Binay, and I may I add : where is the outrage against the SC decision allowing Estrada to run again, against all corrupt and plunderers?

    • Bert says:

      A brilliant idea deserves another brilliant idea. I move that the Rizal monument be elevated to a certain height higher than any structure or tree around it that protesters or fanatics can no longer complain of anything obstructing or distracting the view of Jose Rizal.

      Here’s another: Since it is claimed that the DMCI building distract the view of the monument, so does the Manila Hotel also which is nearer in proximity to the monument. Thus, if one is to be taken down, the other must be taken down, too, if only for the purpose of satisfying the clamor and satisfying the norm of fairness.

      • Joe America says:

        See, giancarloangulo, THAT’s how you do sarcasm in print. :0 🙂 Bert used to suck at it, but he practices regularly.

        • Bert says:

          Nothing to it, giancarloangulo. All one has to do is write something sarcastic on anything on topic and, lo and behold, you have your sarcasm in print, :).

          • Joe America says:

            Oh, my, my, my, you do have skills now. You are herein designated The Society of Honor’s Master of Sarcasm, a title that allows you unfettered access to any comment at any time to lay a little burn across the page.

            • Bert says:

              Thank you, Joe, for the honor. My wife is reading this and reeling with laughter now. But she’s buying a gallon of avocado-flavored ice cream for a little celebration for this well-deserve title, :).

          • edgar lores says:

            Ooooh! The once budding satirist has become a teacher.

            I bow to you, sensei.

            • Bert says:

              Ooooh, Edgar, please, you’re pulling my leg. You are the MASTER here, the master of us all here in Joe’s blog. And honestly, that’s no sarcasm.

        • Bert says:

          In fact, giancarloangulo, you’ve done it already, and quite effective. Evidence: Your “bravo bert” as it sounds to me is sarcastic enough, hehehehehe.

  23. Joe says: “Do you know what the job of businessmen is?
    Their job is to be profitable, and to get there, they provide jobs for people.
    It is not to worship at the altar of Rizal, a deity in the making if this emotionalism continues.”

    Joe also says: “All DMCI did was try to build a building.”

    Then Joe says, too: “Dr. Rizal is a hero, exactly why?”

    Last not least, Joe says: “Well, that’s not my religion. My religion is corporate, it is profit, it is progress, it is jobs, it is creation of wealth. And that building over there looks downright beautiful.
    I don’t care that much about some statue made of brass that the pigeons donate to. I care about the principle the man stood for, the betterment of his nation.”

    All these said and more [by Joe], quite aside from the many words of insult against our institutions (the tripartite branches) including our courts and judges, our sense of history, our kind of people in the face of the earth, even label Philippines Poguland [how dare you], to the point that he quite unabashedly so, even roll out three recommendations to our ‘Supreme Court, Legislature, and People’ – are something that really amazes me no end.

    How could one Joe America just do that without anyone complaining, without anyone insulted to the core of one’s being, and well with impunity.

    To my mind, nearly all ideas, views, opinions and biases that Joe America sell us – rather than get us all ‘demonized if not bastardized’ [pardon my saying], would even seem to drip more tomato sauce than blood from all of us. They always arc back to how he viciously criticizes our collective dementia, idiocy or stupidity even?

    Is no one feeling pained, wounded, ruined, and disrespected by the whole length and breadth of such an article written by Joe, in so far as this particular theme is concerned of so much historical and philosophical import? Are we to just stand under Joe Am’s ‘Big Tent Theory’?

    I have nothing against Joe save that views diametrically opposed to our collective sanity must tend to shake us all Filipinos. It did mine. In the end, the whole discussion sailed forth is not even Rizal that piece of stone – it is upon us – a curse by someone who can take the liberty to say his piece with much impunity. I still care for a healthy flow of ideas that he may have heretofore set on sail. Except that, he is cruising on ‘territorial waters’ and apparently still misbehaves.

    • Joe America says:

      This is the view of the nationalist who lashes out now and again, that I am impudent and readers who buy what I am selling are not patriotic enough as Filipinoes. The writing style, that aims at flair and entertainment and, yes, impact, is too powerful for a guest who should know his place. But as for “impunity”? That I don’t buy. The blog is open to anyone to write a counter opinion, insofar as it is expressed well. The comment threads are open to all, except those who prove they cannot distinguish issue from personal character, or who are abusive. So, Primer, what are you so afraid of? That people will listen to me? But they won’t listen to you? That my ideas have their attention, and yours are incomprehensible?

    • karl garcia says:

      Hey Primer, come back,I listen to you.Bring back the old times where you reply to comments other than the authors. Our past exchanges made me know you better ,that you were in the Navy same as my dad,worked in the logistics command again same as my dad,etc.Your questions to bongv forced him to say that he has nothing to hide and then he gave links to his blog and social media account.

  24. khoobooboon says:

    “Well, that’s not my religion. My religion is corporate, it is profit, it is progress, it is jobs, it is creation of wealth. And that building over there looks downright beautiful”

    Nice…nice. Hahaha…the typical American view, a product of a culture that worships corporatism, profits, and money at the expense of everything that comes under the rubric of culture and heritage – values, ethics and religion. I wonder Joe America, how you would explain the sub-prime crisis, the consensus being that this was triggered by corporate greed. Perhaps you are one of the few who will deny that the investment banks and other financial institutions are at fault as they will merely pursuing profits and creating jobs through the packaging of the ‘Credit Debts Obligations’ and “Mortgage Backed Securities’. That said, I wonder too why you choose to live in the Philippines, given your constant rantings that Filipinos are over-emotional on almost everything and that corporatism, profits, wealth and jobs should over-ride culture, heritage and values.

    My hunch, Joe America, is that you are living in the Philippines because you know the enduring Filipino culture of protecting and preserving their heritage extend to taking care of senior citizens and that you, being a blessed senior, will not live your remaining years in an old folks home! I bet my last dollar that, in the deep recesses of your heart, you know that your Filipino extended family will not send you to a ‘home’ by excusing themselves that they have not time for you for they need to work and built wealth!

    • Joe America says:

      Well, khoobooboon, most interesting screen name, and most interesting challenge. Let me do my best to respond.

      My background is corporate, yes, and American, yes, and democratic, yes. So that shades my views and my confusion that the Philippines does not do more to create wealth and social mechanisms that care for its poor people. Do you know how much wealth it takes to keep up with the flood of babies produced here? Believe me, you need a very well functioning profit mentality to generate the capacity to care for that mass of humanity. If you and most Filipinos think idealism and wishes will do it, and productivity is irrelevant . . . and that is what your national creed supports . . . then, yes, I should just shut my yap. And respect that “the way we do it, Joe” is fine. But I read the national plan and it has poverty reduction as the number one goal, and I wonder why are we obsessing about a monument?

      Does the American system produce greedy aberrations and crooks? Yes, greed is the driver of wealth production and people play the edges to get rich. But the American democracy is amazing. It is messy, argumentative, politically partisan, and it wobbles between the extremes now and then . . . and always gets pulled back to the center. The path of good values and knowledge and progressive change and compassion and working earnestly for a better life for Americans. No one said democracy was pretty, and one of my greatest complaints is how much the Filipino penchant for perfection actually drives imperfection. A mistake is a reason to crucify someone, not learn (Mamasapano). So tearing down is the main drive rather than building up.

      As for my “rantings”, most readers here grasp that I am here to express a point of view, provocative, if you will, and that they can then bounce off that and either agree or disagree with it. I am not selling a bag of goods you have to buy. I am providing a bunch of words, usually stated to mean something, and your role is to respond constructively to them. Well, taking me to task may be your idea of constructive, but the idea of “rant” is in the mind of the reader, not the speaker. Most of what I “rant” about are what I learn from Filipinos here who have the good grace to teach me or share their frustrations. I’m no isolated complainer running round screaming insults. If I were, readership would not be so high.

      So maybe you should consider why your reaction is what it is, rather than tell me to write differently or think differently. Just read, appreciate, explain objections on the issues if you have them, but not worry too much about who JoeAm is. Why I’m in the Philippines is irrelevant and none of your business, frankly. What is relevant is the argument over heritage versus economy.

  25. khoobooboon says:

    Very interesting response. Let me respond. First, Joe, I think you would agree with me that there is such thing as being a responsible corporate citizen. In as much there is huge expanse of land at Rizal Park, so is there in the whole Manila, Luzon and the entire Philippines. The question then is: Why build it there? Just because some ‘bad ass’ approve it. Isn’t it part of the decision process of a corporation to also consider the cultural sensitivity. Second, you have ranted more than a mouthful about your frustrations about how things work and yet choose to live in the Philippines. Isn’t it ironical? There is Iceland…and other interesting places to live. I think given all your rantings, it certainly is very relevant for me and others to find out what are the ‘attractions’ in this country that makes you want to live here. We also like to hear the other good things in the Philippines that have endeared you such that you have decided to make this your home. That would make for a balanced and more objective view from Joe America. Is that too much to ask? What is the relevant in the argument over heritage versus economy. Given all your rantings, it is not only relevant, it is crucial. Again, why bother to spend your retirement years here, paying for some services and consuming products/services borne out out ‘externalities’ and most probably paying no income tax. One can’t just dismiss this as irrelevant to the economy!

    • Joe America says:

      You clearly have not read my blogs, khoobooboon. I am one of the most positive guys around, banned from the anti- forums like Get Real Post. Supporting the Aquino Administration and getting beat upon and told to go home by Filipinos who have a different idea. Read more of my blogs. As for “style”, if that is what you consider rant, sorry, I don’t do boring. It is not fulfilling. I am not frustrated living in the Philippines. I have a great life here. I write blogs because it keeps me intellectually alert and growing. I am filtering through the frustrations of the commuters and the intellectuals and the progressives and others who see the potential of the Philippines and are trying to figure out what has to be done to realize that potential. “Balanced and objective” means I have to write things the way you like them, and this just flat out is not going to happen. So don’t read, that is the solution there. It is a freedom. Or write your own rant, and if it is well presented, I’ll publish it.

    • chempo says:

      Hello khoobooboon

      Joe does’nt need me to budge in but just allow me to say a bit.

      On my first visit to this blog Joe gave me a bit of advise – “Newcomers to the Philippines who are schooled in order and ambition indeed have an adjustment to make lest they become chronic complainers and find the complaints overwhelm appreciation of the good qualities of the Philippines, and the character, which is a unique concoction of many influences.” — I think that defines him.

      You are right – long stayers in this beautiful country probably pays no income tax, But they do pay VAT, paying for services and products that collectively helps the economy. At least, the sari-sari owners, the taxi-drivers, the FX drivers appreciate when they pay them. The naynay is happy she got a job. The extended families are happy when they go in full force to restaurants once in a while. The guy with the house is grateful for the rent he collects. Collectively, these foreigners contributes significantly. Sure, you can say we don’t need your money, you can go. My friend, it’s live and let live. All men are brothers and it’s a great world outside. What are other people going to say to the hard-working Filipino diaspora?

      The folks in this blog either appreciate and champion or refute and kill each other’s ideas which is perfectly fine. Sometimes in robust ways, sometimes fun ways. You should see some of the great jokes along the way. What I don’t see are egos here.

      • khoobooboon says:

        Hello chempo, just a few clarifications. First, I seldom like to budge people into a corner. And the proof of this is although I am regular reader of Joe America’s blog, this is the first time I am reacting to a piece by him, indicating that by and large he I find some good valid points. Second, like Joe America, I am also a foreigner in this country. I understand some of his frustrations as I have been running corporations and doing business here since 1994. But that said, I believe there is a way putting across ideas without putting down other people’s opinion and sensitivities. And one just can dismiss this as a question of ‘style’.

        • chempo says:

          That’s cool.
          It’s just a matter of perception. I find Joe’s style is simply provocative — he tickles to get get responses.

          • Joe sometimes use this style, which is mostly MRP’s style – provocative and not so serious, just to elicit responses…. slowly getting used to it, but it’s so hard…. it’s easy to detect sarcasm and satire when you know the author and his normal stand on issues, but when I’m deeply serious about a subject matter and the series of comments are serious as well, I sometimes fail to catch one or the other.

            • Joe America says:

              The best way, Mary, is to look at a blog by JoeAm that goes wild with the words as a fable, as a work of fiction, that is not meant to be read as factual, but as a teaching point. It is about foxes and hens who talk, and trick one another. Look for the lessons. There are many ways to say something. When I write:

              Hindsight is a prism through which Filipinos view things really really well. Filipinos are stuck in past tense. Their favorite gear is reverse.

              What am I saying? That all Filipinos are looking backward instead of forward? No. That you, Mary, are looking backward instead of forward? No. That the Philippines is notoriously famous for dysfunctional planning and converting forward-thinking into forward deeds, and we ought to avoid that? Yes.

              It can be said dryly and bore people to death, and bore me to death as a writer, because I am inspired when I can craft particularly potent lines.

              Just go with the words. Have fun with them. Look for meanings that are relevant to you and take NOTHING personally.

              • karl garcia says:

                I get this fable,better than fiction explanationt,than the psychometric test proponent analogy (Forgot which one) explanation you gave me.I had almost the same comment before,except the topic was 2016.

              • Thanks, I will, or rather, I will try, sensitive as I am. (not on what you write, I know how you mostly think, but on what MRP writes…hahaha

  26. khoobooboon says:

    Why the verbal constipation, Joe America? So tell me if you are an “economic asset”, contributing directly to the creation of jobs and wealth that needed to “keep us with the flood of babies produced here or an “economic liability”, consuming more goods and services than paying for it in this country”.

    • Joe America says:

      Do you mean diarrhea? Free speech. It’s fun, it’s enlightening. Why do you insist in putting me in your wee little box of condemnation and narrow vision? I mean, your arrogance, to think that I should have to do it your way.

      In terms of ideas and the generation of constructive dialogue, I contribute as an asset. In terms of bank account, I contribute in the monthly dollar transfers I bring over, the people I hire, the scholarships I give, and other ways.

      Now you are starting to irritate me. The subject of this blog is Torre de Manila, it is not Joe America. Kindly separate the issue from the person. It is doable. Then we can have delightful and meaningful chats. But these personal challenges are just nonsense. If you have a problem with what I write, don’t read. Now kindly stop cluttering up a meaningful discussion forum with your esteem issues.

      • khoobooboon says:

        I am laughing Joe. I was merely respond: “Why I’m in the Philippines is irrelevant and none of your business, frankly. What is relevant is the argument over heritage versus economy”. So the pseudo intellectual and former corporate guy is getting irritated because someone dares to take him to his game. Good bye Joe. This is the last you will hear from.

        • khoobooboon says:

          Typo. I was merely responding to your comment: “Why I’m in the Philippines is irrelevant and none of your business, frankly. What is relevant is the argument over heritage versus economy”. So the pseudo intellectual and former corporate guy is getting irritated because someone dares to take him to his game. Good bye Joe. This is the last you will hear from.

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks. You are welcome back to discuss issues any time. I would add that what distinguishes this blog from discussion threads elsewhere is the LACK of ego and personal challenge. You crossed the line, and kept crossing it. It’s a big deal with me and the quality of blog that I aspire for. It is so very very simple. Stick with the issues. Personal challenges divide. They don’t help us grow and unify.

        • khoobooboon says:

          Typo. I was merely responding to your comment: “Why I’m in the Philippines is irrelevant and none of your business, frankly. What is relevant is the argument over heritage versus economy”. So the pseudo intellectual and former corporate guy is getting irritated because someone dares to take him to his game. Good bye Joe. This is the last you will hear from me.

  27. Melanie Avery says:

    speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way.
    synonyms: hold forth, go on and on, deliver a tirade, rant and rave, fulminate, sound off, spout, pontificate, trumpet, bluster, declaim; More

    2. Noun
    a spell of ranting; a tirade.
    synonyms: tirade, harangue, diatribe, broadside, verbal onslaught; rarephilippic
    “he went into a rant about the people who were annoying him”

    Am not siding with anybody. Just thought you might want to read as to definition of rant. To someone new to the blog what JoeAm is doing might sound as a rant but is a very healthy discussion amongst intellectuals. He starts the ball rolling.

    I have been to different countries and find it frustrating to say the least when I see things that could be done differently but offered not to for fear of recrimation or even discrimation. JoeAm’s forum is for the likes of me .. Mostly people who have been living outside the country who wants to be heard. Would it contribute to the society? Who knows? Is there any harm in trying? Probably to people who feels offended reading these sort of stuff. Am pretty sure a lot of people feel the same way, like I do, towards this blog. Likewise you will find heaps sharing your sentiments about JoeAms” ranting”.
    I will read your blog, if you start one. It takes a lot of guts to continually produce a very good topic weeks after weeks. The dedication and time Joe Am, is without doubt priceless. Do you need more evidence he cares about Philippines, Filipinos? I say he cares more than others I know, including me.

    • Bert says:

      Very well said, Melanie. It takes all kinds, but some people just want to say something without understanding, including me. Why haven’t I see you around here before?

      • Melanie Avery says:

        Hi Bert. Alas. Time is not on my side. My profession, family and hobby takes me away from you guys. I do enjoy the discussion here tho. Every single one helps my brain. I badly need this sort of discussion. Occasionally try to add my bits, but am merely a reader. Am envious. You are all well informed( well, mostly), and I highly appreciate the contributions . As I said before, am truly supportive of a forum that aims to improve our dear country, regardless where or who made the comment.

        • Bert says:

          Please do come often, Melanie. I cannot speak for Joe, the owner of this blog, but knowing him for quite a time I’m sure he will be glad as me to see you here anytime you have the time.

          • Melanie Avery says:

            I will, or will try. Am also visiting Phil soon, and would like to see in person the changes happening. Might even visit the famous building in Luneta Park. I will keep my mind open as to suggestion of few, that it is just a building and the need to move on. Am a bit of a greeny, and would also love to retain the Luneta park that I use to know. The problem is by the time I come back, this TDM would have been forgotten. Hmm I really need to keep abreast!! Thanks again Bert.

            • Bert says:

              I am also a greeny, Melanie, but that controversial building is not within the perimeter of Luneta Park so does not bother me at all it will affect any of the greens inside the Luneta Park, now popularly called Rizal Park. The said building is located on the other side of Taft Avenue just adjacent to Sta. Isabel College, if you’re familiar with the area.

              • Melanie Avery says:

                Thanks for the clarification. Am not known for my sense of direction! Hah. Had visited Luneta or Rizal park only twice in my life. One – when we almost lost my young sister and second, to welcome some dignitaries. Can’t even figure out the boundaries between cities. My husband( a foreigner) can do a better job! Hah

          • edgar lores says:


  28. khoobooboon says:

    First, sorry, that this respond was delayed while in transit and came in only after your reply. The following are typo errors. Sentence should read as “So tell me if you are an “economic asset”, contributing directly to the creation of jobs and wealth that is needed to”keep up with the flood of babies produced here or an “economic liability”, consuming more good and services than paying for it in this country”.

  29. David Murphy says:

    Joe, I understand your being in favor of economic progress but it seems to me that you’re missing an important point. Consider the construction of TDM. Although we have no proof, past experience makes it likely that a number of politicians and bureaucrats made a great of money from providing permits for construction and exceptions to rules and regulations, probably through the auspices of attorneys, who got their fees without doubt. The architects and engineers got their fees for design with each modifiation. Laborers and supervisors were paid for actually constructing the building. Now the lawyers and judges are getting their share. In what I see as the best case scenario, the courts will order the demolition of the building. More income for attorneys and judges as the case goes through appeal after appeal. And eventually, if the order is upheld, the laborers and supervisors will be called in to salvage what can be salvaged and demolish what can not. Possibly professional demolition explosive experts will provide a fantastic visual show for everyone as the building comes crashing down. Finally the debris must be processed so that it can be loaded and hauled away somewhere where the poor will salvage what could not be salvaged economically in situ. They will sell what has any market value and find ingenious ways to utilize the rest, probably in constructing residences that are stronger and safer than those they are living in presently. And then the best part: someone will apply for a permit to construct another building on the site of the old TDM and the entire process will start again. It is a perpetual motion profit-making machine that can run indefinitely because, as we have seen, nothing really changes.

  30. It may be interesting to note that so far as SC is concerned, it did contemplate only that so-called ‘non-interested parties’ should come from the following fields, namely: real estate, tourism, construction, architecture, engineering, and heritage conservation. The controversy is invested with public interest reason why SC wants to ‘broaden the debate’.

    Simply stated, corporatism, as a field, is not one of those.

    Until then, it is disheartening to see one [khoobooboon] leaves the forum in disgust. I hope he is welcome anytime, and ‘bullies’ – if there be any – must care enough to do a lot of listening. This way we all win.

    • Joe America says:

      He is welcome any time to discuss the issues. If you are intimating that I am a bully, I must say, you are the first in my 5 years of blogging. I think you should hang around the blog a little more. There are almost no bullies here, as that is a condition of participating. Leave the personal insults out.

    • khoobooboon says:

      I have no intention of returning this forum but since my name is mentioned, I thought I take this opportunity to clear up a few things. Do not worry Primer, I wasn’t bullied out. I opted out! To say I was bullied out or might have been bullied out is just giving too much credit to Joe America. Joe America says he can’t be a bully. And I believe simply because he lacks the intellectual depth to push any one away. If you will remember he started whining about the how over-emotional the Filipinos are over this culture and heritage vis-a-vis the more corporatism, profits, and creating jobs and in building wealth. I responded by showing the ugly side of corporatism and corporate greed wit, the bankers and the sub-prime crisis and also why he has decided to choose to stay in the Philippines given his constant rantings about things in the Philippines. Well, he obviously got irritated and asked me what is the relevance of this to the discussion of heritage and economy. I countered it has much to do with the economy. You see Joe America has been stressing the need to create jobs ( and the driver of this is profit and corporatism) and wealth to “keep up with the flood of babies produced here” and said I should stick to the economic issues. It is only in Joe America’s ‘small mind’ that his presence in the Philippines has nothing to do with the economy. It has everything to do with the economy and the subject economics because if Joe America is a are an ‘free rider’, consuming more than paying for the services, then Joe America is no different the many who “flood babies” in this country.

      Do not worry Joe can’t be a bully. You want to know why? It is simple. When Joe America is challenged, he will respond with his three favorite ‘flags’. The first flag being, “As for my “rantings”, most readers here grasp that I am here to express a point of view, provocative, if you will, and that they can then bounce off that and either agree or disagree with it. I am not selling a bag of goods you have to buy”. The second is even more defensive to drown any call for a more balanced and objective view and it is always “his style of writing”. And the final flag, the equivalent of the photo-bomber Torre de Manila, “So don’t read, that is the solution there”.

      I have hope this clarify my opting out from this forum.

      • khoobooboon says:

        Typo. I hope this clarifies my opting out from this forum.

        • khoobooboon says:

          Oops. Typo again. “It has everything to do with the economy and the subject economics because if Joe America is a ‘free rider’, consuming more than paying for the services, then Joe America is no different the many who “flood babies” in this country”. It is difficult to type without my reading glasses.

      • Joe America says:

        Thanks, khoobooboon, I’m sure readers here will give your point of view thoughtful consideration.

      • Karl garcia says:

        you remind me of GRP’s benign0 because he loves to call people small minded and loves to say it’s simple,really.try opting in in that blog.

      • Bert says:

        Bye bye, khoobooboon. Am I glad you opted out of this forum? You bet. Please don’t come back again until you learn how to do civil conversation without the personal attack. One of the reasons why I don’t want you to come back is that I was forced to respond to your rant and found it so difficult to write your name. Bye.

        • khoobooboon says:

          Really? Didn’t see any response from you. Would you mind pasting it. I certainly will happy to take a look at it for what it is worth, i.e. the level of your I.Q and E.Q!!! You make laugh…

          • Bert says:

            “Bye bye, khoobooboon. Am I glad you opted out of this forum? You bet. Please don’t come back again until you learn how to do civil conversation without the personal attack. One of the reasons why I don’t want you to come back is that I was forced to respond to your rant and found it so difficult to write your name. Bye.”

            • khoobooboon says:

              If Joe America was the Lone Ranger (he is so scare to reveal his academic credentials according to my sources, claimed he has a bachelor degree and a master degree to boot but dare not state which university, what year), you must be Tonto, the side-kick! And what are your academic credentials? Or are you like your Master, Joe America, also scared to reveal your academic credential. Is is Recto University? So where is the response that you claimed you were force to make. Hahaha…what is this the equivalent “after class participation”, trying to show your ‘marbles’ after I announce that I was leaving the forum. Where were you when Joe America was deep in the discourse. You are a real joker. Go play at the fringe. You simply have no intellect, sad to say!

              • Joe America says:

                This type of conversation violates the letter and spirit of the blog. Please refrain from discussing personalities or personal attributes. Your comments will henceforth be moderated to verify that they abide by the terms of participation.

                Bert, I would ask you not to respond to his taunts.

      • OK, now I will be alone, the reigning queen of typos…yey! Joke.

        Seriously, we would like more to join in the discussion, to have a lively exchange of ideas, varied opinions and bits of resourceful info via links offered. That way we learn or enhance our learning and wisdom. But, but…sans name calling, please. No bloated egos if possible, those egoistic people always trying to prove oneself as wiser and superior to others.

        Sarcasm and satire, I can take, I can give those, too, that is with practice. Wit and jokes (wholesome,pls) and humor….yes, please..to take away boredom on an all too serious subject, a respite.

        Bert, I usually copy and paste difficult handles, with my typo problem, I would not want anybody to murder me (digitally, that is…) haha

        • P.S. Thanks Joe, for your edit assists on my numerous typos, I noticed you once gave that to khoobooboon, too.

          • Joe America says:

            Yeah, but I stopped. He was making too many. ahahaha

          • Bert says:

            Have you seen that, Mary? khoobooboon asked for a copy paste of my response to him and I granted him his request, copy pasted. He just went ballistic after that. I don’t know what to feel right now, whether to pity him or what. Something is bothering the man I suppose. I’m sad for him.

            • Joe America says:

              Your comment went to moderation, Bert, because the system scans for “khoobooboon” and kicks it into the “look here first” bucket. You still have full rights, unmoderated. I would ask that you put him into history and we can just move forward.

            • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

              Just saw it, Bert. Let’s forget about him, I really cringed at his personal attack…you and Joe didn’t deserve it. A genuine troll, he is. Yes, Joe, he is history. My last comment regarding this sorry thread.

  31. apparently Serge Osmeña thins Poe should run as VP first.

    This is getting interesting.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks. I read the link. There are no surprises in Osmena’s advice to Grace Poe, were he to advice her. Such thoughts were early on discussed here. My comment may reflect also my bias for Mar Roxas.

      What is interesting is his estimates of the prospective votes for her as Presidential candidate being DISTRIBUTED to Mar Roxas as the Pres Candidate with her as VP — 60% going to Roxas and 40% to Binay and whoever else will run for the Presidency.

      • NHerrera says:

        I wish to expand on my note in the last para above related to the calculation of Osmena. I will use the The May 30 – June 5 Pulse Asia survey result as a basis for my further notes below (I am not using the SWS result because of the complication resulting from the methodology asking respondents to name Pres Preference as much as 3 names — resulting in a bloating in the SWS numbers):

        Poe 30, Binay 22, 15 Duterte, Roxas 10

        Now since Poe will not use the 30 (she will run as VP and a sure win in that derby), according to Osmena’s calculus the 30 gets distributed to Roxas 18 (= 30 x 0.6), Binay = 6 (= 30 x 0.2), Duterte = 6 (= 30 x 0.2).

        Thus the adjusted number for Binay = 22 + 6 =28, Duterte = 15 + 6 = 21, Roxas =10 + 18 =28

        I am aware that this is just a numbers game, but Osmena’s thought results in the competitiveness of Binay and Roxas. This does not consider also other factors not known to us — for example, there may already be some number addition to Roxas numbers relative to Binay. in the intervening period from the last survey, etc.

        • Joe America says:

          Sal leaned over and said “this guy’s good!”

          • NHerrera says:

            If you mean Osmena, then I agree — he is a numbers man and seem to know what he is talking about; I recall his ” What’s the matter with you” retort to old man Ongpin. Osmena also redeemed himself in my book in the recent event where he sang that song as a prelude to the “dinner.”

            If you mean me — very presumptuous of me — this I can say, “flattery will not let your blog off the hook.” I will clutter the blog with numbers when warranted. And that is promise, not a threat. 🙂

  32. sonny says:

    neither here nor there.

    Joe, I have noted down three words with much imagery: verbal constipation (koohbooboon), verbal diarrhea (JoeAm) and an old one from James Fallows, logorrhea. Fallows used it to describe some Philippine journalists.

  33. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    DMCI is David M Consunji, Inc. He served and booted by Marcos, according to David, “he served as Secretary of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications during the Marcos years, Consunji revealed that when he was removed from office, the president privately told him it was because of his intolerance for shady deals.”

    DMCI is straight arrow. He is a Cebuano. As you know, there are no crooks in Cebu.

  34. josephivo says:

    Why not a McDonald’s on the lawn of the White House or a condo on Tiananmen Square? People need icons, heroes, national anthems… cultural elements to unify. If you accept this tower, stop complaining of the lack of national feelings in the Philippines. Rizal Park becoming just a simple square, Rizal monument just an ordinary statue.

    A sky line needs some unity. In metro Manila you have plenty of high rise sites, Makati, Ortigas, Manila bay… A new tower is not needed there, it clutters instead of unifying. It is a terrible eyesore, ugly, out of place.

    What about the extra traffic, extra power lines, extra sewage? Urban planning as a joke, a past time for academics.

    Rent, money. Who is benefiting from building a high rise in a 6 story building zone? We don’t need an icon of corruption, not in that location.

    • sonny says:

      On the nose, as usual, Joseph.

    • Joe America says:

      That’s not quite the point, I think. Preserving cultural heritage is important, and the schools work hard on that, but then dump kids off into the real world. The article acknowledges a mistake was made. It is the real world. Now, what to do about it? Tear it down? Who is to pay for that if no laws were broken? Taxpayers or DMCI? Either way, stuff flows downriver and it will eventually take food off somebody’s plate, as it is an expenditure with zero return. And if it is the preservation of cultural heritage we are talking about, ought we not be more concerned with the destructive affect of corruption on that heritage, or is that the part of the heritage we wish to preserve.

      We start at a point in time now. With the beautiful (or monstrous) building already in place. It is not a mutually exclusive deal. You CAN preserve the Philippine national heritage with that building in place, and you CAN feed the poor if you grow an economy instead of burdening it with waste, and you CAN preserve the best of Philippine culture by getting rid of the worst of it.

      • josephivo says:

        Fighting Binay will cost money, food on the plate for some. Should we accept him for that reason? Sending Ampatuans to prison cost money, so let them free?

        Beauty is value by itself. We should stop translating all value in monetary terms. This tower is an eyesore, destroys a lot of the “beauty” of the Rizal park.

        Accept all profits made via “rent”? Set examples, tear the tower down and let the corrupt bleed.

        • Joe America says:

          It upsets a few people, not the masses. They will never visit. What do they care.

          The Binay argument is strange. There are investments and there are expenses. The investment in keeping Binay out of office is likely to pay back in a major, multidimensional way. The investment in tearing down the building is just another incident of wasting time standing in place when we could be growing and building. Already, hundreds were put out of work so that a few can get their aesthetic thrills. Those who want to tear it down are tyrants, I have concluded. Elitists who want to impose their sense of beauty, or the costs of a gigantic selfie, on people who just don’t care.

          Always a pleasure to disagree with you idealists.

    • Melanie Avery says:

      Josephivo, I like that ” an icon of corruption”

  35. surfer sison says:

    Hi sir JoeAm, i am also following this case of Torre de Manila with much interest. Let me share my experience designing a project in the small provincial city of Xiamen,China. we were to do a sports building with residential condominium. we were not allowed to go higher than the height of a monument in front of us. and mind you, this was just a monument of local import. and so, the project was a no go.

    Another thing that offends me about the whole thing is that DMCI forced the issue by trying to get an exemption. In normal situations I can understand them because that is in the DNA of the company. In one of their company presentations, they said the value added that they give to a project is by finding a way to make a difficult and impossible project site possible. in this case , they went too far.

    I am an architect and very much pro-business. but i strongly believe that TDM should be demolished . how much is national pride ?

    • Joe America says:

      My guess is DMCI went for that property because it IS visible, has decent road access, and was relatively cheap land (zoned and priced for low-rises). They played by Philippine cultural rules. Most do this . . . but don’t meet public outrage. DMCI miscalculated. Rather like President Aquino miscalculated the arrival of the coffins.

      Kabloom. Indignant outrage.

      The problem is that the solution is economic. Someone has to pay for it. The Philippines is desperately in need of economic growth, of building, of jobs. As in all economically inefficient elements, like corruption, fixing this will siphon money from the bottom, from the poor, and I just don’t think that helps . . . or is respectful of Dr. Rizal.

      • surfer sison says:

        If you are poor and hungry, will you sell your mother for a few pieces of gold ?

        the project i mentioned above was in year 2000.
        at that time, china was a poor country.
        being poor at that time did not change their stance to preserve the sanctity of the monument.

        i researched a little on this matter and found out that there is a height limitation in washington d.c. long in place.
        no building in there can be built higher than the width of the road in front of it.
        reasonable zoning laws are not anti-business. it can help in making a coherent environment that will be aesthetically and functionally relevant.

        what i cannot accept is that with all the technical and engineering prowess of their company ( with one daughter of the owner being a board topnotcher in architecture and taught in up architecture) they did not see the urban disaster they are creating.

        it was not news to them.
        early on , when the marketing brochures came out, there were already howls of protest regarding this project. being insensitive to this public outcry is the height of insensitivity and colossal hubris on their part.

        now who has to pay the bill for its demolition ?
        i am guessing DMCI built it quickly to its current height to make things fait accompli.
        reminiscent of china building the great wall of sand in the south china sea despite of / because of the arbitration in Hague.

        let me hazard a guess. the supreme court will order the demolition of the tower. they will then leave it to DMCI to sue whoever was responsible for allowing them to build it in the first place. (good luck ).

        I am excited to see how this pow wow in the supreme court goes.

  36. juanlee says:

    this is a battle of two interest groups, the developers group (looking into the future) and the rizalista groups (looking into the past to be in the future). Both are patriotic. One advocates development, the other history and culture…both have valid concerns. turn between two lovers are us.
    inputs to have a win win solution would be great…and what are the options that we have…the extremes are let tdm fall or let tdm stand.
    one blogger says let rizal statue rotate (to satisfy fotobombers believers), some suggest transfer. i support the first (an off shoot of the 180degree turn). maybe others can think of better one that will make both sides winners, i am sure many would like to know about them, no idea is a bad idea, with the so many brilliant and creative minds in this blog, an idea could be enhanced…let us synergize.
    beauty is on the eyes of the beholder. and i thank the Lord for giving me the eyes to see and appreciate what is presented before me. gude

  37. surfer sison says:

    There are those who said that DMCI got their historical clearance , building and zoning permits from the relevant authorities so they are doing everything legally.

    I beg to disagree. the historical , building and zoning authorities may have approved the project based on the historical, building and zoning regulations , but that does not give DMCI the carte blanche to break other laws.

    did they not break the law on being a public nuisance ?
    were they not sufficiently warned that there is a continuing public outcry on how this is the ultimate photo bomber ?

    I quote the Civil Code of the Philippines :

    “Art. 694. A nuisance is any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else which:

    (1) Injures or endangers the health or safety of others; or

    (2) Annoys or offends the senses; or

    (3) Shocks, defies or disregards decency or morality; or

    (4) Obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any public highway or street, or any body of water; or

    (5) Hinders or impairs the use of property.”


    • Joe America says:

      I’m thinking the Supreme Court will consider all the legal ramifications. Art 694 to me is like the libel law, giving those with power the right to subject those they find objectionable to their whims. Meanwhile, a person of little power will not have access to that law. Further, that which “annoys”? What kind of standard is that? It gives anyone with a complaint the right to try to command what people do on property that is not theirs. Again, it is a law for the powerful.

      • surfer sison says:

        I think the law is not that subjective.
        i quote again:
        “Art. 695. Nuisance is either public or private. A public nuisance affects a community or neighborhood or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance, danger or damage upon individuals may be unequal. A private nuisance is one that is not included in the foregoing definition.”

        did it affect a community or neigborhood or any considerable number of persons?


        then it is a public nuisance.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, thanks for that clarification. That is more reasonable. And if irritates a considerable number of people that such a ruckus is being raised over a building off in the distance, what is that?

        • juanlee says:

          pls educate me and my group how the torre de manila as a building and structure (not the process of how it is put up) affected a community or neighborhood or a considerable number of persons negatively? if it does what shall we do about it?
          there are a number of people out there who see a beautiful structure in the background where the monument of rizal is. there are a number of people out there who appreciate rizal monumento and the torre at the same time.
          i agree that there maybe irregularities in the process and that is what we are talking about it here too to educate ourselves thus we can improve the system. i feel we should not let the building down for these reasons if does not pose a clear and present danger; i’ll be one among the many to say tear the building down if it does.
          if we have to tear the building down to punish the developer for the irregularites, to me that is too costly and wasteful. there are other meaningful ways to give the penalty to the developer for the irregularities. the court system is responsible for that.
          speaking of clear and present danger to the our pinoy society is the possibility of mr binay becoming president. what i am doing about it is i am not going to vote for mr binay and telling other people to not vote for him and i am telling people to vote for mr roxas, MAR ROXAS HAS EXPERIENCE, INTEGRITY, DEDICATION and LOVE OF COUNTRY as a public servant. gude and thanks

  38. Andrea Soriano says:

    K. I’ve been struggling with this issue for a while but I was busy with work for a bit but initially couldn’t do the necessary research and background to figure out what’s going on. I’ve done about a week of research on this now, and there are still issues that I find genuinely troubling:

    1. Why did people kick up a fuss only once they’d made it to 17 storeys? I mean If it really was a serious matter of public interest, I don’t get why they waited ’till the “damage” was done before making an issue of it.

    2. I don’t understand how the monument is any less of a monument just because there’s now a building behind it. I don’t understand why an empty horizon and sunset has serious claim to being essential to the man’s legacy. I think we need a stronger reason than “because reasons” — which is so far all I’ve really gotten.

    3. If it’s an issue of corruption over permits etc., I’ve yet to see any concrete evidence that this was the case. I don’t really see anybody pushing people from either side of the issue to produce evidence a compromised procedure, and I find it problematic that people are happy enough to pillory DMCI without evidence that they did something they weren’t allowed (and therefore supposed) to do. If it is, in fact, the case that evidence of corruption, then this should be the focus and not some silly bickering bout a skyline aesthetics.

    • Joe America says:

      Very reasonable take on it. Andrea. I miss this kind of dispassionate examination. It’s like people have been gored to the soul, as if somehow Dr. Rizal somehow got executed again. It would seem more an honor to me if his ideals got translated into people’s ethical and moral deeds. I think I must be too analytical and am missing the gross offense that people are feeling. I don’t know why I should apologize. I just can’t relate.

      It’s interesting. I’ve traveled a little in Europe and Asia and enjoyed seeing cathedrals and temples for the amazing architecture and elegance of expression. But my most impressive spiritual moment was found in a small chapel on a hillside in Portugal, built in 1620, granite stones weathered and worn, cement floor polished smooth and shaped in waves by thousands and thousands of peasant footsteps. The souls of the dead and joyful seemed to inhabit the place, as bats darted from the small balcony on my arrival.

      I somehow think Dr. Rizal wants good work. Not worship.

      • surfer sison says:

        Sir Joeam with all due respect, do you think Americans will readily accept your reasoning you wrote above if the Torre de Manila is built ” all the way to the sky” beside the Washington Monument ?

        • Joe America says:

          The condo tower is not “right beside” the Rizal tomb. It is off in the distance. The Mall in Washington DC, where the various monuments are located, is rather large, but adjacent to the Mall are all kinds of office buildings and strange structures. I have no idea about zoning limits, which are more organized and enforced than in the Philippines, but I personally would have no trouble with a high rise condo built near the Washington Monument. Washington is not a God, and the monument is more a tourist attraction than anything.

          • surfer sison says:

            yes. i trust you would not care. But i am willing to bet most americans will also be up in arms if a building mars the view of the Washington monument the way Torre de Manila did to the Rizal monument.

            • Karl garcia says:

              How can a building mar a view of a monument when you are standing in front of it? You look up,yes but not all the way up.

            • Joe America says:

              Hard to say. A lot would. Most is a stretch. But my point is, the deed is done, learn from it, stop wasting time and money, and move forward. I rather think Dr. Rizal will be a hero, deeply respected and appreciated no matter what, and we honor him best by building a nation that is not poor, and is fair and reasonable.

      • Having trouble figuring out where to reply — there are a lot of threads I kinda feel like responding to, but for the sake of efficiency, I’ll keep it here.

        I understand, and can glean from responses to this and other posts, how many people are upset about the Torre, but I think that there can be equally good reasons to not see the Torre as a problem. I think there should have been some proper (ideally even-tempered) public discourse on the issue –with all sides having the opportunity to argue their position without threat of harassment or getting lynched online. What I see as most problematic is about this did not happen at all — now the issue has become so emotionally charged that people are jumping on bandwagons, without demanding concrete and tangible facts to prove foul play.

        I am concerned about how interest groups organized around the issue — I think it’s made it very difficult for honest, objective discussions to be had. I really don’t get why they waited so long to protest the building — 17 storeys isn’t built overnight, it’s genuinely shocking why no one else who’s asked has gotten a good answer to why this was brought to public attention only now. It’s a tad convenient that interest groups were silent until the damage was done and people had a “photobomber image” to rage behind before presenting their case. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t demand that the state produce answers for why permits to build were given — I’m saying it’s only fair to be equally critical of the movements that have inflamed the issue and whether they have motives beyond what the public is focused on. If anything it’s fair to criticize their lack of organization — if your advocacy is essential to the public interest — it’s a little disappointing for you not to put in a little extra effort to organize effectively (or try).

        I also find it troubling that the state has reduced to squabbling and speechifying without really producing a satisfactory and fair response. The “best” responses to the issue have so far been empty speeches about how local and international heritage groups find the Torre to be a visual abomination — but that is only marginally less asinine than Mayors Lim and Estrada accusing each other of issuing the permits that allowed the project to happen. Delivering verbal condemnation is not the same as producing a fair judgment or a workable solution. It’s not even really the same as answering what I consider to be the base question of this issue: “Wtf happened here!?” We all need to be a bit more honest about the amount of facts that are available — the truth is that we don’t really have enough information to conclusively determine whether or not DMCI did anything wrong. It’s tempting to trash on “the man” but it’s equally unfair for the public to demand mob justice.

        Joe — while I agree with the exasperation, though I wouldn’t go as far as to speculate that local businesses like DMCI will be put off of investing in buliding projects. I also wouldn’t trivialize the need for proper checks and balances to prevent companies like DMCI from unfairly acquiring permits that aren’t in the public interest (especially if they did so by messing with the system) — I think intelligent policy design is one that allows business to operate efficiently without undercutting public interest. PS: I would really like more discussion about policy design — political sentiments have to translate into policy solutions that actually result in progress of some sort. 🙂

        • surfer sison says:

          sir, this did not happen out of the blue.
          people were protesting since 2012.
          it got louder when the warnings went unheeded by the bullheadedness of this developer
          and his callous determination to make it became a concrete reality or shall a say monstrosity!

          here is the timeline.


          “But how did the Torre de Manila saga start? Here are the key events involving the controversial housing project:

          “JUNE 2012 – In the same month DMCI got a zoning permit from the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MZBAA) for the construction of the condominium, cultural heritage activist Carlos Celdran protested the plan, saying it will destroy the view of the Rizal Monument.

          JULY 2012 – City building official Melvin Balagot granted DMCI Homes a building permit, saying the firm submitted all the necessary requirements.

          However, in the same month, Manila city councilor Don Juan “DJ” Bagatsing drafted a resolution suspending the building permit issued by Balagot. This was approved by city council.

          APRIL 2013 – Lim, however, vetoed the city council resolution stopping the condominium’s construction a month before the 2013 elections, while the council was on recess and officials were busy with their respective election campaigns. This prompted Celdran to revive his online petition against the building’s construction.

          NOVEMBER 2013 – Months after Estrada’s election as city mayor, city councilor Bagatsing refiled the Lim-vetoed resolution, saying the building’s construction violates a zoning ordinance pertaining to floor area ratio and height restrictions within a University/Institution Cluster Zone.

          The resolution suspended the condominium’s construction temporarily.

          JANUARY 2014 – The MZBAA later approved DMCI Homes’ appeal, granting the firm an exemption to the local zoning laws.

          Manila Councilor Joel Chua, chairman of the Oversight Committee of the Manila City council, said the taxes the city will earn from the condominium project can be used to pay Manila’s debts.

          AUGUST 2014 – Senator Pia Cayetano joined the fray, filing a resolution emphasizing the need to review laws and policies governing the preservation of national and historical sites.

          She later conducted an ocular inspection of the site. After her visit, she said the building violated zoning permits.

          The senator said those who would file a case against DMCI Homes can use the “builder in good faith” and the “builder in bad faith” argument.

          A builder in good faith is someone who starts the construction of a building or a house without knowing any flaw in the land title or permits.

          SEPTEMBER 2014 – Knights of Rizal filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking that the construction be stopped.

          OCTOBER 2014 – Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon appealed to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to inhibit herself from the Torre de Manila case. He said he received information that Sereno’s husband, Mario Jose Sereno, previously worked in DMCI’s corporate planning office.

          NOVEMBER 2014 – The SC included the National Museum (NM), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as respondents in the case.

          JANUARY 2015 – The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) issued a cease-and-desist order to stop the construction of Torre de Manila.

          DMCI Homes, however, did not heed the cease-and-desist order, according to the NCCA.

          FEBRUARY 2015 – Three months after the SC issued a resolution making NM, NHCP, and NCCA as respondents, the three agencies asked the high court to remove them as respondents.

          JUNE 2015 – The high court finally issued a TRO temporarily halting the condominium’s construction.

          Many contractual employees relying on the Torre de Manila construction are left without jobs.

          DMCI Homes, for its part, said it will “vigorously pursue” legal remedies.”

          • Joe America says:

            Thanks for the information, surfer. I retract my prior acerbic comment about investigative power of the media.

            Most information-packed comment in the history of this blog, I think. Thanks.

            • Most information-packed comment in the history of this blog, I think. Thanks.

              (For realsies? That’s kinda sad. I think the best type of discourse is the one where people spend time scrutinizing and meta-scrutinizing facts)

              • Joe America says:

                Usually the facts are outside, and the concepts are discussed here. When facts are relevant, people link to them or bring in excerpts. This comment was particularly relevant because it recast the whole (emotional) discussion along an unbiased timeline. I particularly note that Surfer did not attach an editorial judgment.

                So don’t be sad. This blog is based on reason, and . . . somewhere . . . facts.

              • Joe America says:

                I’d add that a common problem in the Philippines is obsession over details, devoid of context or direction, resulting in dysfunction. So facts are of themselves not a solution. This blog is purposefully aimed at context and understanding, not details.

              • sorianoandrea says:

                Agree that facts in and of themselves are not the solution, but disagree that the problem stems from an unhealthy obsession with details in general, but a blinkered focus on one set of details while having a lack of attention towards others. One of the biggest difficulties I face keeping up to date on issues back home while being abroad (not based in PH the moment), is that coverage or editorial rarely, if ever present and process facts completely. I find this problematic because it makes discourse especially polarized and emotionally charged (not unlike what’s going on right now with TDM)

              • Joe America says:

                What you say is true. The reality is that most of the commenters here are not themselves able to spend the time doing the research (just as you would find it difficult), or the information is privately held or not published. More government information is available now due to financial transparency (available to you, I might add), but to put together a timeline like that supplied by Surfer . . . it is outside the resources of the blog. It only pops up if someone comes across it and provides it here. But I agree better data makes for better analysis.

              • Joe America says:

                As for me doing detailed research . . . not my bag. On occasion, I’ll do a facts based article. They are time consuming and readership is generally low. The income stream does not allow hiring of staff. I have one bookie and a cousin available for part time work, but they are rather unreliable and drink or eat too much from my fridge.

              • As someone working full-time in a totally unrelated industry, I absolutely empathize with the lack of resources and time to be putting all these things together. I would though, lay this on the media — this should be the remit of “responsible journalism”. Hopefully one day we get this sorted out — if I get the time and resources, I might take a crack at it myself. 😛

                That being said, love your work and appreciate the honesty and effort in your analysis. This isn’t even the first or last time I’ll mention it. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, the media could do a lot better. Again, financial realities enter the picture, I think.

                Thanks for your appreciative words.

          • Hi Surfer, Finally! This is is the type of response that I’ve been hoping for, not just from this blog but also from all that research I’ve done in general.

            Looking at the timeline though, I’m still uncomfortable not knowing the following:

            1. Clarification needed on this item:
            {NOVEMBER 2013 – Months after Estrada’s election as city mayor, city councilor Bagatsing refiled the Lim-vetoed resolution, saying the building’s construction violates a zoning ordinance pertaining to floor area ratio and height restrictions within a University/Institution Cluster Zone.

            The resolution suspended the condominium’s construction temporarily.}

            Did the building construction begin before this? It isn’t clear according to the timeline. Is there also information available on how high the building was? Because prior to to that there were various suspensions filed which sounded as if they should have blocked the construction. If this is the case, then people should pursue to question whether construction happened while the suspensions were in place, or if the suspensions were filed in a less-than-timely manner, which means that the building construction would’ve proceeded fairly and the gap was in the states’ efficiency at executing the suspension they wanted.

            2. I think the timeline should also show how high up the buildling had been built before people started coming into the picture. 1 year (from 2013 to 2014) is a considerable amount of time — quite a few floors should have been built and I think my comment about people not kicking up a fuss until then still applies to a few parties. I’d understand why Pia Cayetano would not enter the picture until later since she approaches from the perspective of reviewing historical preservation laws (meaning that her role would’ve been more relevant anyway post-hoc), but I really don’t get why the Knights of Rizal waited ’till 2014.

            3. What happened to Carlos Celdran between 2013 and now? He started the movement, but I don’t see him mentioned in any of the succeeding timeline titbits. I remember he ended up in jail over something, but I can’t remember the details. Surfer, perhaps you can clarify this? It’s an honest question. I’m puzzled over the absence of the earliest proponent of this issue. His presence would lend a lot of credibility (and likely a more coherent advocacy, since he’s the expert) than what’s available now.

            • surfer sison says:

              hi Sorianoandrea, if you google ” Carlos Celdran Torre de Manila” you will see that he has been actively protesting from 2012 to present.

              so far, i do not see any evil motive in the delay in the action of the Rizalistas or the other protesters. these people are laymen. It is only when the building started to rise to its monstrous proportions before people suddenly realise what a disaster it really is.

              We should cut ourselves some slack. In the case of Hagia Sophia of Turkey, the three luxury condominium towers have been fully built and occupied before their Supreme court ordered its demolition.

              The burden is with DMCI. they are the big powerful engineering and construction giant , so I i do not see any reason why they did not foresee how their tower looks right now in relation to the Rizal monument.

              The reason I posted the whole timeline of TDM is to show how stubborn DMCI was in getting their way. They took advantage of every weakness of the national and City government ( like railroading approval of their project during the election period and the transition from Mayor Lim to Mayor Estrada.) to get their way.

              Only an extremely dense organisation will not heed the backlash of public opinion and go full throttle with the construction as if everything is business as usual.

        • Joe America says:

          Well, I’m glad you found a jumping off place for your comment. I agree, it has been a little wild and talkative in these parts. I intend to do some really boring blogs for a couple of weeks to settle things back down.

          You raise a very good point, that this is a case where emotionalism has overtaken reason. I was reflecting yesterday that the atmosphere seems a lot like Mamasapano Junior. But I don’t exactly know who or what has been killed.

          The state’s “speechifying” rather than producing a result is also like the Mamasapano hearings, that produced a lot of pain and angst and nothing positive. Well, a part of that has to do with forthcoming elections, perhaps. So we have to look at it that democracy is a messy business. I would add to that paragraph that the fourth estate, the press, has not done its job either of providing a timeline of engagements and approvals. The investigative power of the media hereabouts is about zero.

          As for DMCI, I suppose it depends on how deep their pockets are, and how much financial pain they end up bearing. If they were knocked into bankruptcy, would that be a sufficiently defined virgin for the volcano, to appease the anger? I agree, the incident is likely to IMPROVE the way cities and businesses go about their project planning and approvals.

          For me, policy design has to do with more sensible land use policies, with a national framework that would impose more order locally. I’ve been harping on that in numerous blogs. More zoning regularities and strict processes for variances . . . like public hearings.

          Wonderful comment. Thanks.

    • edgar lores says:

      I, too, find this comment the most dispassionate and constructive and, like JoeAm, I will use it as my jumping off point.

      1. It is hard to argue against progress.

      2. It is equally hard to argue against the preservation of national heritage.

      3. After some reflection, I think the vision might be too narrow.

      4. Not only Luneta Park but the entire area starting from the delta of the Pasig River and bounded by the river itself, Manila de Bay, up to the Pasay City boundary should be declared a national heritage site. This area is replete with history from Spanish colonial times up to the present. It encompasses Fort Santiago, Intramuros and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

      5. The vision is to develop this area as the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT CENTER (NGC).

      6. The Senate should create a National Government Center Development Commission (NGCDC), which will be entrusted with the task of envisioning and planning the development of this national heritage site and concretely putting it into place.

      7. Part of the vision is to have most, if not all, of the three branches of the national government housed here, with the exception of Malacanang Palace which is just across the river. The Supreme Court is already on Padre Faura.

      8. Part of the vision is to have the international embassies and consulates here. The United States Embassy is already on Roxas Boulevard.

      9. Part of the vision is to maintain the architectural integrity of the government buildings already here such as the Central Post Office, the old Congress, and the Supreme Court. All have a classical Grecian theme — tall, elegant columns, entablature, with lots of sculptures.

      10. Part of the vision is to have cultural and art institutions here. The National Library is here and some museums. We need art museums, ethnic museums, science museums, amusement museums and more.

      11. To make room for all of these, the businesses, school campuses, residential areas and transport hubs should be relocated. The government can offer schools sufficient funds and incentives to shift to a Universal Learning Center in Quezon City or to Los Banos. (Then, like JoeAm, college students can move away from home and gain some independence.)

      12. This is just the start of a vision. It it is to be implemented, it means that the Torre de Manila must go… for the sake of national heritage and progress.

      • Edgar, I can agree with most of what you’ve said, actually. Follow-ups to details in parentheses below:

        3. After some reflection, I think the vision might be too narrow.
        (Sorry, but which vision are you talking about? You mean the NGC?)

        5. The vision is to develop this area as the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT CENTER (NGC)…12. it means that the Torre de Manila must go… for the sake of national heritage and progress.
        (I would have been on board with this plan had it been communicated and advocated earlier. The problem now is that this plan was not advocated for properly enough to be protected by interested parties like myself. Question though — was the vision something that was state-sanctioned or is this more of a proposal — a really cool one, might I ad — for city planning in that area?)

        • edgar lores says:

          Thanks, Andrea.

          1. The narrow vision is the limited focus on Luneta Park on this issue… and not even that. It’s just the Rizal monument and its background.

          2. The vision for an NGC is my humble proposal to preserve and project into the future the historical significance of this part of old Manila.

          3. The vision is to counteract the Filipino tendency to live for the day… without reverence for the past and without care for the future.

          3.1. Planning is not our forte. We always make do. Kahit ano puwede na… lalo na kung makalusot.

      • juanlee says:

        in some countries, in one city or town, there are old town and new town sections, there are historic areas and modern areas as well as open market and covered market, etc. my relative who lives in tampa bay area florida told me it will take the approval of the zoning commissiion to erect any non-residential building in a residential community and public meetings are held regarding such endeavors where residents are given notices and letters prior to the public meeting. but that is in america and we are in the philippines where systems have differences.
        with respect with the vision you suggested (vigan as an example), it would perhaps take the law of imminent domain to make it happen IF the area is to be rebuilt as a national heritage area. it would take also a lot of inputs from various sectors and interest groups to incorporate their ideas into the vision. it is a group effort indeed and it is to be done not for us in the present but maybe for our children and our children’s children. for starters, the area (defining its boundaries) has to be declared a historic area and create the historic area commission to establish what activities and structures are allowed in this historic area.
        i for one would like to have an area like what you have envisioned for heritage enhancement and posterity, for tourism, and job creation. now that fasting is over…you all can eat a lot now…Glory to God in the Highest. gude

        • edgar lores says:

          Thanks, juanlee.

          You have gone several steps ahead of me.

          Yes, the power of eminent domain would be the way for the government to acquire most of the proposed NGC. And, yes, it would need community planning of a high order.

          Before I had the idea that the central government should be relocated to an island in the middle of the archipelago, in particular Masbate, but this NGC idea in Manila would be less expensive in the long run.

          And speaking of decongestion, moving the schools away from the NGC would lessen the problem a great deal.

  39. I think this is the first time I disagreed with you Joe. The Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument has no photo bombers destroying the view and aesthetic and I don’t see the cities that host these two structures not being progressive. High rise and more development can be built on the outskirts of Manila where there should be more jobs and less traffic going towards the city center. The city needs to decongest. I do agree with you that people are getting emotional but my logic tells me we can still build, develop, progress and keep the Rizal monument as is.

    by the way, in Turkey, a court orders 3 tall luxury condos to be demolished so that the view of an iconic mosque can be preserved.

    <a href="http://www.interaksyon.com/business/94342/manila-take-note–turkey-orders-3-luxury-condos-demolished-to-preserve-iconic-istanbul-view&quot;

    • surfer sison says:

      I would be horrified if our supreme court rules for Torre de Manila given this decision made by the Turkish Supreme Court on a similar situation.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, if it were up to me, I’d have not allowed the building either, and for sure think zoning in the Philippines is skinko. That’s why I harp relentlessly on a National Land Use Law, but I don’t hear the complaining senators taking that up. The challenge is how best to go forward, and how do you factor into thinking:

      – Economic pain, which will invariably flow down to the poor
      – New policies and procedures (thanks Andrea)
      – Figure out who or what was killed here, ala Mamasapano. History or idolatry?
      – Think about what Dr. Rizal would do, if we indeed choose to honor him.

      The discussion has been wonderful, and no matter what, lessons are being learned. Thanks for disagreeing and adding to the lessons.

    • juanlee says:

      yes i agree metro manila must be decongested and how do we do that. locate centers of business and provide employment opportunities in the provinces, and build affordable hi-rise housing for the employees and the agriworkers, build schools, markets, hospitals , parks and other support systems near these dwellings…but this is strategic planning and requires a community planner architect. people need not go to metro manila to work or get education or
      get good medical care, etc. people need not commute far from their homes to avail of the services and work. if one can walk or bike it, much better for health than smoke belchers.
      with respect to putting down what is already up, unless it is a clear and present danger to society or gives a negative impact to majority of society (as in turkey’s mosque being a majority muslim and governed at present by religious group, i would not know if kamel pasha or attaturk would allow this or not) i would say move on, let it stand and penalize the guilty.
      let us move on to progress and at the same time let us respect and not forget our heritage. building a structure near a national monument such that its skyline aesthetics is altered is not a sign of disrespect to me..
      who can provide the vision to decongest metro manila…mar roxas…vote for mar for president and say NO to binay…prevent the philippines from going to its old ways…mar will continue the tuwid na daan.
      TUWID NA DAAN or BALIKTUWAD NA DAAN ….you are the master of your own choice, God is Great. gude

  40. Karl garcia says:

    Aside from the forever pending national land use act.how else can we legislate masterplanning? realtors,building developers abandon projects when there is heat, like cases similar to tdm,financial crisis,etc .
    Presidential decrees about urban land reform in addition to the Lina law,makes illegal settlestay put against the property owners wishes.
    Edgar is right,planning is not our forte,better late than never.

  41. surfer sison says:

    The public’s outrage towards Torre de Manila is not arbitrary, whimsical nor irrational.

    London has long established laws and regulations on strategically important landmarks.

    Is it enough that the immediate front view of the Rizal monument is not obstructed based on the narrow interpretation of NHCP’s Ma. Serena Diokno ( Ms. Diokno, did you shame the very illustrious reputation of your father Senator Pepe Diokno) ?

    London’s take on these matters are as follows :

    “New development in the background of a Townscape View should preserve or enhance a viewer’s ability to appreciate the Outstanding Universal Value of a heritage site” and should not contradict the achievement of the objectives of the site which is to “enhance people’s experience of a view.” It is basically to satisfy a sense of sight, but not as an end in itself for the ultimate end is an appreciation of the meaning of the heritage site.

    So did TDM ” preserve the viewer’s ability to appreciate” the Rizal monument ? nope.
    Did it “enhance the viewer’s ability to appreciate” the Rizal monument ? you tell me.

    “If there is one thing we can learn from London, it is the fact that the current legal battle over the Torre de Manila is not an isolated phenomenon in the world. It is hinged on a concept that is being actively practiced by prominent cities elsewhere in the world. There is nothing arbitrary about it. Nor is it frivolous and whimsical on the part of our heritage lawyers….”

    Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/86448/learning-from-londons-sense-of-view#ixzz3g9sBuNcQ
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

    • karl garcia says:

      Surfer sir, thanks for all your inputs.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, I think that is right, Surfer. When Jim Paredes is in the pack of those wanting the building down, one has to respect the call. Yet, it is not ALL the people who are outraged, but a wee small segment who care about those matters. So it is like leftists who speak for the “people”. No, no. They speak for the “like-minded people”, who may or may not be substantial in numbers, and who may or may not be right.

  42. surfer sison says:

    I beg to disagree sir Joeam .

    Even assuming , for the sake of argument, that you are right that there is only a small group of people are indignant on the Torre de Manila, does it mean the nation and its leaders should not pursue it ?

    Does the majority of Filipinos give a hoot about the “Freedom of Information ” Bill ?

    Or the Philippine Anti-Trust Act ?

    Does the fact that only a minority of people care about these two issues make if frivolous and unnecessary to push for these two landmark bills that will redound to the benefit of all , including the clueless and indifferent majority ?

    (I hope you don’t feel I am badgering you. I am on your side on most issues anyway, so don’t worry. hehe.)

    • Joe America says:

      Oh, absolutely pursue it. No, I am not suggesting don’t pursue it. Most important social changes start small with a dedicated group of advocates. Indeed, I wish you well on your advocacy. May the best team win. I’m a good sport in the basketball and political arenas. It is just that representing it as a “people’s” initiative requires a huge asterisk.

      • surfer sison says:

        Pardon my passion on this issue.

        Every time I go to Singapore, I am amazed to see how they improve their cityscape through the years.There is the constant endeavor to improve it. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made Housing and Urban Development one ot the most important initiatives of his administration. This thrust became one of the major engines of Singapore’s economic miracle.

        Here we cannot even manage to preserve and enhance our foremost national monument.

        Someone commented that when TDM becomes fully occupied, what is to stop its occupants from hanging their laundry and undergarments in their balcony towards the Rizal Monument ?

        How will we explain this to our children and grandchildren ?

        • Joe America says:

          I think you are tipped a little too passionate when laundry enters the picture. Come to think of it, laundry flapping is a wholesome symbol of the way MOST of the population lives, hanging shirts on the highway guard rails or fences or trees. Why do you want to deny it? It is more symbolic of Filipino real life to me than a brass statue, although I do get somberly emotional about Rizal’s grave. The condo has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

          I like Edgar’s proposal. Back up to the start. Develop a plan for a comprehensive government and cultural center in the area, and develop it with respect for all.

  43. surfer sison says:

    I just visited the corporate website of DMCIhomes.

    Listed among their core values is this:

    All our actions are guided by what is ethical, fair, and right. Believing in profit with honor, we are committed to good governance and the highest moral standards.”

    let’s check it one by one:

    ethical ?
    fair ?
    right ?
    profit with honor ?
    good governance ?
    highest moral standards ?

    Mr. Consunji, which among these qualities of intergrity were you trying to achieve when you did TDM ?

  44. galingnyoboy says:

    ^lol galing mo surfer. FYI Mr. David Consunji was one of the contractor’s who said no to Marcos-era projects due to corruption – FYI lang

    dami nagmamagaling at riders kasi.

  45. surfer sison says:

    ^ then tell Mr. Consunji to show his outstanding citizenship by demolishing TDM.
    otherwise, TDM will forever stand as a shameful monument of their family’s role in the marring of the Rizal shrine and negate all the good works they have done for our country.

  46. galingnyoboy says:

    lol demolish? you must be nuts.

  47. galingnyoboy says:

    shallow patriotism and nationalism over a monument.

  48. surfer sison says:

    REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10066 or the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009” would probably figure in the Supreme Court hearings.

    Was the approvals given by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the zoning and building permits given by the Manila city government enough to exempt DMCI from its obligation to abide by the the provisions of this law ?

    its relevant provision states the following:

    “Section 13. Maintenance of Heritage Zones. – A heritage zone shall be maintained by the local government unit concerned, in accordance with the following guidelines:

    (b)Appearance of streets, parks, monuments, buildings, and natural bodies of water, canals, paths and barangays within a locality shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute; ….”

    • surfer sison says:

      I just realised that the National Historical Institute became the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. DMCi will say that the NHCP has already officially determined that TDM does not ” obstruct the front view” of the Rizal Monument.


      NHCP chair Ma. Serena Diokno, University of the Philippines history professor and daughter of Senator Pepe Diokno, shame on you!

      • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

        I admire your passion, surfer. Pepe Diokno, Claro M. Recto, Jovito Salonga, Ninoy Aquino, Doy Laurel, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag…those were some in the list of my late mother’s when she was voting, through the years. She was politically aware, civic minded in the sense that she never missed the chance to vote, up until she can no longer do so, when she was bedridden already for eight years….even then, she still watched with us the live coverage of the Estrada impeachment, and clapped her right hand in her thigh when a particular witness has driven a cunning defense lawyer to a corner….oops off topic, sorry

  49. jameboy says:

    200+ comments about a building that has not threatened anybody by reason of structural risk issue nor of corruption-laden transaction but because of obstruction of view? If the pristine scenery of the environment has been somewhat corrupted by the erection of the building, so what? It’s not the only building there. If its really that bad, why not demolish it? Either way I don’t think people will really give a hoot. 😎

    • Joe America says:

      Right. It is a contest between those who prize aesthetics over profits, and those who prize profits (earned the Filipino way) over something nebulous that doesn’t make money. It is two rather small camps, one passionate the other pragmatic. The papers merely hype the conflict, because they have figured out, as DMCI has not, how to make money out of passion. It is not a civil war. It is a distraction that is quite meaningless in the great scheme of things. And it for sure does not honor Dr. Rizal, for the poor are still poor, and the Church still plays its games under a cloak of morality, and the empowered are still greedy and self-serving.

      I much prefer when we see things the same.

  50. surfer sison says:

    DMCI was the toast of Philippine stock market.
    From 2008 to 2014,its market value zoomed an amazing 4,000% .
    if you invested 10,000 php in 2008, that would have become 400,000 php six years later.
    this made Mr. Consunji one of the ten richest man in the Philippines.

    I was fortunate to have invested in a portion of that rise.
    So i know what profit is.
    Yet ,on this issue of Torre de Manila, i am totally against DMCI.
    I am not some leftist communist or some wide-eyed environmentalist ideologue
    I believe that profit is good when it is channelled properly.

    But I believe business is not only all about profits.
    Companies should realise that there is such a thing as Corporate Social Responsibility.

    Did their business make the community where they operate a better ?
    Did they make Rizal Park and its environs a better place than before ?

    Did it aspire to make a ” profit with honor ” as stated in its DMCI homes website ?
    Is the Torre de Manila a project where they can proudly say ” it is an privilege honor to built this tower for our nation.” ?

    • Joe America says:

      I would genuinely like to read DMCI’s response to the questions you raise. It ought to be fairly easy to discern candor from spin.

      • Joe America says:

        I wonder what other shareholders think. The Board is obligated to listen to them (to you).

        • surfer sison says:

          that is a very good point. shareholders need to be considered.

          if bad news is handled properly, it should not be that bad.

          the stock market might have already discounted the loss of 1 billion php on this project.
          but putting this side by side its latest annual profit of 17 billion php and a market value of 174 billion php. the negative impact can be easily absorbed.

          from its peak, DMCI’s stock price have been down by 38%.
          from the darling of the market, it is one of the underperformers.
          I wonder how much of this is caused by the bad press of TDM

          The earlier they get this issue behind them, the better, i think.

          but that is just me. and i am not a stockholder anymore as of this moment. 🙂

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, they should put it behind them quickly, I agree.

            Buy one share, then go to a shareholder’s meeting and speak your piece. 🙂

            Made your killing and sold at the peak, eh? I think that’s the way it is supposed to be done. Not the way I do it . . . ahahaha

            • surfer sison says:

              Don’t worry. I am not a perfect timer of the stock market either.

              But if you believe , as i do , that our country is in demographic sweet spot., then we are now witnessing the start of a 30 to 40 year economic boom.

              but that is another story. hehehe

    • Percival says:

      Surfer Sison, the arguments and rebuttals regarding TDM you presented exceptionally well, IMO, are my exact sentiments too. Thank you for your contribution. Your passion and patience is commendable, I am also an architect like you.

      Joe, In addition to what Surfer has already contributed, allow me to share something and I quote in rearranged order:
      “The International Council on Monuments and Sites – ICOMOS Venice Charter, the principal heritage charter observed globally that is referred to by Unesco for World Heritage issues, stipulates that sight lines to architectural heritage structures must be kept free. Among the basic principles of conservation followed internationally is the stipulation that all angles of architectural monuments or heritage buildings should always remain in full view to the public. It means that nothing should visually block either the long or short vistas that lead the eye towards the monument, and that the view to be maintained is the view from the ground up, as originally envisioned by the building’s architect. Part of the principle is also preventing the construction of new buildings so close to the monument that they diminish its visual impact. In other words, we are asked to control the setting around our architectural heritage so that we can continue to display our monuments with pride, and also to see them clearly.”
      Source: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/158890/display-our-monuments-with-pride/#ixzz3gOPFi9Ma

      Thus, I strongly believe, this has nothing to do with idolatry or worshipping a hero as a god, as you had tried to ascribe to those against the Torre de Manila and Filipinos in general. But that is your opinion and you’re entitled to it, and this is your blog. Although you may not mean to, personally, as a Filipino, I feel offended and insulted, as I am not at all an emotional person and neither too religious. I don’t go to funerals and I don’t keep pictures in my wallet nor use personal photos on my desktop/cellphone wallpaper. But I do give reverence where reverence is due. And our National Hero deserve that.

      As an architect, the issue of aesthetics is very important to me. I believe, that the appearance of a dwelling shows a glimpse to and affects the personality and mood of the dweller. The study about “environmental psychology”(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architectural_psychology) show that a chaotic view of the surroundings pollutes the subconscious affecting behavior and mood of the those who are forced to see the disarray every day of their lives. And those are the “poor people” who don’t have the privilege to get out once in a while, and be hounded rather unconsciously by the continuing decay (exemplified by the Torre de Manila) adding to the numerous “environmental stress” in the city.

      On the heritage aspect, as the country’s premier Landmark (few meters away from KM 0) and most important tourist attraction, the Rizal Monument is to the Philippines, what Eiffel Tower is to France, Sidney Opera House to Australia, Taj Mahal to India, Burj Al Arab to Dubai, Great Wall to China, and so on. Aren’t we allowed as Filipinos to preserve our own heritage as other nations do, just because we are poor and can’t afford to waste a billion peso even for the sake of our dignity?

      Economics wise, as a residential structure, the TDM will not provide long term employment to the poor. The most it could contribute is the yearly property taxes due the city government, a big chunk of which will only serve to line the pockets of city officials. On the other hand, in the long run, an added eyesore in the cityscape and the congestion and stress it would add to the physical environment and other effects that would lead to the city’s decay, will lure tourists away affecting revenues and jobs and businesses dependent upon tourism.

      On the moral side, allowing TDM to remain standing where it is, is tantamount to allowing Binay to get away unpunished with his crimes, that will set a bad precedent for others to emulate. The Torre de Manila has to go. DMCI and other players who allowed its erection should shoulder the cost. The assumed1B peso cost of the structure is a small price to pay to send a message to our people that crime does not pay, and offenders should suffer the consequences of their actions, intended or otherwise. Yes, a big amount but a small price if we can start reversing the culture of corruption and impunity so glaring.

      • Joe America says:

        Thanks for the strong statement of position, Percival. Aesthetics is indeed important, and I think the court will draw the line that needs to be drawn between art and profit. I guess my only comment would be that the deed is done, it is not as harsh as Binay’s theft, and there is a certain aesthetic to making sure the commercial enterprises are rid of handcuffs (witness the bills signed today in that direction), so that the poor may soon be attended to.

        • surfer sison says:

          thank you to my fellow architect Percival for defending the need to protect the aesthetics of Rizal monument so well.

          Let us listen in on the live stream the first hearing of the Supreme Court at 2 pm today.

  51. surfer sison says:

    DMCI stock went down 7.7 % today.
    their subsidiary Semirara Mining went down 13 %
    probably due to the mining accident.

  52. surfer sison says:

    Arguments will cover the following topics:

    1. whether the threshold and purely legal issue on the definition of the Constitutional mandate to conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, includes the preservation of its prominence, dominance, vista points, vista corridors, sight lines, and setting

    2. the specific laws, statutes, ordinances and international covenants that the DMCI breached as a result of the construction of the Torre de Manila and how does the said tower become a nuisance per se; and what are the legal consequences of the violation of any of these laws

    3. whether or not Torre de Manila significantly altered the physical integrity of the Rizal Monument as may be defined by law

    4. the effect of permits, licenses and opinions issued by public respondents as regards the validity of the construction of the Torre de Manila project

    5. the total damage to be sustained by private respondents, including the workers, the subcontractors, the investors, and the buyers of the project, in case the building is demolished

    6. whether the permanent cessation of the construction and the building’s demolition constitute taking of private property for public use requiring payment of just compensation.

    More from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/525634/news/nation/torre-de-manila-debates-push-through-as-sc-rejects-solgen-reset-plea

  53. surfer sison says:

    live streaming of the Torre de Manila hearings today

  54. surfer sison says:

    click ” audio recording ” to listen to the hearing

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for providing the link, surfer.

      • edgar lores says:

        My impression is that the hearing did not go well for the Knights of Rizal. Their lawyer was grilled over hot coals, and the justices did not seem to be impressed.

        Carpio said that there was a big procedural problem in changing the prayer from an injunction to a mandamus.

        • Joe America says:

          And Justice Leonen took JoeAm’s argument up another notch, that Rizal is not a god, and there is no lack of honor granted him, considering most communities have a Rizal Avenue. The only argument is aesthetics, evidently. DMCI appears to have followed civic rules. Yes, I think it did not go well for the Knights today.

          • surfer sison says:

            Sir JoeAm, don’t congratulate yourself too quickly on how Justice Leonen asked some very tough questions.
            I am a big fan of his. He is one of best SC justices we have now.

            I think he is just playing devil’s advocate in his line of questioning. He warned us ( and the media ) in the initial part of his questioning that his questions are not indicative of his beliefs or of how he will be voting in the furure but is just a part of his quest for truth.

            I would be very disappointed if he doesn’t ask very tough questions on DMCI and the other government respondents in the next hearing.

            I however noticed how Justice Peralta was actually ” lawyering ” for the KOR. He came up with his version of the timeline where you would be able to conclude that DMCI was a “builder in bad faith.” DMCI designed the project as 49 storeys even from the onset with full knowledge that it was intending to build in a lot with a strict zoning restriction.
            There is also a claim that they were already pre-selling and have started building TDM even in the absence of a valid building permit. The narrative will show that DMCI was fully aware that there was strong opposition of TDM in the Manila City Council , the city legal counsel, the Department of Tourism and even the National Historical Commission(initially) because of zoning , historical and aesthetic considerations. DMCI never heeded this adverse reactions from the city council and the public protests on the project and stubbornly went full speed with the construction.

            There was also an observation that the city council made shortcuts in granting the zoning exemption without going through a formal legal process.

            So far, despite an amateurish attorney defending , I am still optimistic that this case will go our way.

            • Joe America says:

              Okay, I’ll stop suggesting we build a monument to Justice Leonen then. 🙂 Good advice, to see how it plays out.

            • edgar lores says:

              There seems to be an inordinate bashing of DMCI and a whitewashing of the role of the city government. Is this fair?

              Yes, DMCI planned a 49-storey building — but the city government approved it.

              Yes, DMCI exceeded the zoning ordinance — but the city government exempted it.

              The ultimate responsibility lies with the city government, which is the regulatory authority, isn’t it? It has the final say.

              DMCI could not have dug one hole, it could not have laid one stone without the say so of the city government.

              So if we are apportioning blame (or responsibility), should not an equal share — if not the lion’s share — be attributed to the city government? (Specifically the administration of Mayor Lim?)

              Take your pick of metaphor:

              a. if DMCI was able to pass through the eye of the needle, who widened the eye?

              b. If the DMCI horse bolted from the stables, who opened the gate?

              Let us give credit — or blame in this case — where credit is due.

              • surfer sison says:

                Who produced ” millions of considerations” to make things go their way ? I just don’t know how this can be proven in court.

              • edgar lores says:

                Good point. Who received the millions in consideration to look the other way?

  55. surfer sison says:

    Not the best lawyer to defend on our side, i must agree. All the big shot lawyers dare not cross swords with a business giant like DMCI for fear of loss of business in the future. I am not giving up hope. Wait till the justices grill DMCI, the city government and NHCP in the next hearing.

    • Joe America says:

      I didn’t quite understand all the legal whiz bang going on, as to how elevating the case to the Supreme Court may not have been the best idea. As I understand it, the question was asked as to what laws were broken, and none was cited. It is strictly a matter of aesthetics. I appreciate your point that the wealthy businesses do carry a heavy hammer, and good recall, if an attorney attacks them. I think City government will bear the heat next time more so than DMCI or NHCP.

      • surfer sison says:

        I think the counsel of the Knights of Rizal made some serious procedural errors in elevating the case immediately to the Supreme Court. By its very nature, the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts . The normal procedure would be to bring the case to the lower courts first. The SC bent over backwards and allowed the Knights of Rizal to amend their case to Mandamus vs. DMCI , and included the city government , and the historical and cultural government offices to be included as respondents in the case. Mandamus is i one exception to the rule of not elevating the case to the Supreme Court immediately.

        Mandamus means ” A writ or order that is issued from a court of superior jurisdiction that commands an inferior tribunal, corporation, Municipal Corporation, or individual to perform, or refrain from performing, a particular act, the performance or omission of which is required by law as an obligation” http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/mandamus

        My understanding is that, it means that if the SC finds something irregular in the action or decision of the city government or the NHCP in the performance of its duties and mandate, the SC can order/ command them to rectify the situation.

        I reckon, worst scenario here for our side is that the Supreme Court rules that this case go to the Court of Appeals first.

        disclosure: I am not a lawyer, so please correct me if I am wrong . 🙂

  56. surfer sison says:

    just making some musings on some Supreme Court behind the scenes action which might give us some clue on how the justices will be voting on this issue :

    “Those who voted to issue the TRO even without oral arguments were Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Arturo D. Brion, Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, Martin S. Villarama Jr., Jose Catral Mendoza, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, and Francis H. Jardeleza.

    Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Justices Mariano C. del Castillo, Jose Portugal Perez, and Bienvenido L. Reyes did not vote for the issuance of a TRO before oral arguments.

    Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen were on official leave of absence.”

    Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/supreme-court-issues-tro-on-torre-de-manila-construction/#30wsjgF5SYPhRcCG.99

    Antonio Carpio is definitely on the side of DMCI. He was previously a senior partner of ” The Firm” that defends the “Big Money”.

    Perez already inhibited himself because his son bought a unit in TDM.

    Some critics have questioned the objectivity of Chief Justice Sereno because her husband worked for DMCI before. And she raised the issue of compensation in case the project is demolished.
    She is in the pro- DMCI camp. Will we see her vote for demolition of TDM as long as DMCI is properly compensated ?

    I consider Justice Peralta solidly on the side of Rizalistas based on his questioning yesterday.

    Leonen, i guess neutral but leaning more to the side of the Rizalistas.

    • Bert says:

      Inquirer headline today quoting Justice Marvic Leonen’s responses to the Knight of Rizal’s lawyer, as happened in the hearing:

      -“For you to tell us the Rizal monument is the soul of the nation and that we should put that in jurisprudence, we cannot do that. It is tyrannical of the court to establish the narrative of the nation.”

      -“We do not forget Rizal because of the view, we remember Rizal regardless of where the monument is.”

      -“It’s within DMCI’s right as a private enterprise to pursue housing projects in private property.”


      Sorry, I don’t know how to put a link. Source is Inquirer.net.

      • edgar lores says:

        Come to think of it in relation to the second cited quote, the reverence for the monument of Rizal is idolatry. It is mistaking the representation, the stone and metal, for the real thing.

        The fourth and third to the last verse from “Mi Ultimo Adios” seems appropriate to JoeAm’s argument for progress… and is keeping in faith with Rizal’s wishes:

        “And when my grave by all is no more remembered,
        With neither cross nor stone to mark its place,
        Let it be plowed by man, with spade let it be scattered
        And my ashes ere to nothingness are restored,
        Let them turn to dust to cover thy earthly space.

        “Then it doesn’t matter that you should forget me:
        Your atmosphere, your skies, your vales I’ll sweep;
        Vibrant and clear note to your ears I shall be:
        Aroma, light, hues, murmur, song, moanings deep,
        Constantly repeating the essence of the faith I keep.”


        • surfer sison says:

          -“We do not forget Rizal because of the view, we remember Rizal regardless of where the monument is.”

          yes. we will remember his regardless.

          but we will show the all peoples of the world and the Filipinos here and abroad , born and unborn how little respect we have for our country’s history and all that jazz the Rizal monument represents.

          • edgar lores says:

            Not really. As JoeAm argues, economic progress is showing great respect for what Rizal’s ideals and dreams were.

            And Rizal has wished — no, granted permission — for that progress to occur… even over his grave.

            • is this correct then “The people fighting over TDM do not follow what JP Rizal wanted”?

              • edgar lores says:

                Yes, I will say so… definitely.

                Again from Mi Ultimo Adios:

                ,em>”…And should a bird descend on my cross and alight,
                Let the bird intone a song of peace o’er my site.”

                The people fighting over TDM are not singing a song of peace over his site.

                More, the poem delineates the dreams of Rizal in poetic language:

                “My dreams, when scarcely a lad adolescent,
                My dreams when already a youth, full of vigor to attain,
                Were to see you, Gem of the Sea of the Orient,
                Your dark eyes dry, smooth brow held to a high plane,
                Without frown, without wrinkles and of shame without stain.”

                To paraphrase:

                My dreams when I was young
                Were to see you with dry eyes (that is, without crying from suffering)
                With smooth brow held high (that is, full of pride)
                Without frown (that is, full of happiness)
                Without wrinkles (that is, forever young yet at the same time mature)
                Without shame (that is, without guilt of wrongdoing)
                And without stain (that is, without corruption and pure).

              • I felt this when the issue broke out .

                I didn’t have the time to find the proper text to support this sense of how Rizal thinks.


              • edgar lores says:

                Same here. I still have no firm opinion as to whether TDM should remain or go.

                My stated opinion of TDM being demolished was conditional on the premise that the entire area be planned as the center of the national government.

                My opinion is that the emotionalitiy surrounding this issue parallels the Mamasapano hysteria.

                My opinion is that this imbroglio is the result of the corruption of the city government.

                Root out corruption… and TDM would have been a 7-storey building. If this were so, there would have been no case to speak of.

  57. surfer sison says:

    Rizal is being humble.

    When he wrote those words in ” Mi Ultimo Adios ” he never thought that he will be the one honored with a national monument.

    I think the fair question to ask to Rizal is this:

    Dr. Rizal, if national monument in Luneta is in honor of another national hero, say Andres Bonifacio, would you agree to the building of Torrre De Manila knowing it will mar its background ?

  58. surfer sison says:

    if it is just any other bronze statue , why is is guarded 14 hours everyday ?


    “….Attracting hundreds of tourists every day, the monument — a national landmark along Roxas Boulevard in Manila — was erected 17 years after Rizal?s execution by the country?s Spanish colonial rulers.

    A masterpiece in bronze and granite designed by Swiss Dr. Richard Kissling, it stands near the spot where Rizal died by firing squad. Across the monument is the marker for ?Km. 0,? the starting point for the country?s road mapping system.

    The Rizal monument is the only statue in the Philippines provided with an honor guard. For decades, guarding it has been a role exclusively given to corporals and sergeants of the Marine Security and Escort Group (MSEG), mostly soldiers with at least a year or two of combat experience against Moro separatists or communist insurgents….”

  59. surfer sison says:

    If you look at the google map of the lot of TDM, it is actually not fronting a street. it is behind the lot where the former Jai alai was. You need to pass through a right of way to go to the TDM property. Unless DMCI owns this Jai Alai lot, then it would be difficult to get permission to build such a high building. Let’s see if this issue will be tackled when the zoning regulations exemption is scrutinised.

  60. mrericx says:

    Well there’s a solution to that National Photobomb & recently this video that I gonna show you was been reported from GMA Network & the designer of that new monument will cover the Torre De Manila & it was really a nice one and very keen to the story of Jose Rizal unlike that Rizal Monument which is also known as the Kilometer Zero: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/335779/3d-artist-iminungkahing-lagyan-ng-mural-ang-likod-ng-rizal-monument

  61. luela grageda says:

    Thank you for saying that your religion is about profit. Now, I know exactly where you are coming from. I think you come from a place where it is ok to ignore the existing ordinances just for money just like, oh heck, #DMCI. Surprise! Surprise! It might not be the best ordinance but it is there. As the cliche goes, “Dura lex (ordinance, in this case) sed lex (ordinance).” Why can’t you and DMCI just get that when you are so evolved and so much better than us mere ordinary citizens? Thank you for your so-called progressive thinking. We, with the small brains, will follow ordinances and laws as we are mere mortals who as you say are emotional while you and your ilk break the ones you cherry pick for development’s sake.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t believe profit is a religion. However, it would help feed the poor. The conclusion that I favor breaking the law is you putting words in my mouth, and I don’t really like them being put there. If laws have been broken, please cite them. As I understand it, the case is with the Supreme Court. I am prepared to accept the findings of the court, and trust you are, too.

      You should read the blog more often before presuming bad faith. I write for literary effect and it does no good if you take it literally and then twist it awkwardly to suggest I consider those supporting tear-down of the tower to be small brains. Again, you are putting words in my mouth, and they have never been spoken. My ilk, as represented by most in the blog discussion thread, are hear to learn, to talk, to argue with respect, and do our best to figure out difficult issues. I suggest you try that on for size. It is not a personal issue. It is an issue of heritage/arts versus commercial interests vs the culture of favor/power (whoever approved the permits) vs taking care of the poor vs representing Dr. Rizal well. Simplifying it to say you represent the good guys and I represent the bad does not solve the complex issue the case represents.

  62. surfer sison says:

    I am for the demolition of the Torre de Manila. Even if I do not agree with the stand of sir JoeAm on this issue, I value very much the opportunity to hear him and others defend the other side of the issue. I find this is one of the few blogs where we can debate intelligently and with respect and hopefully be able to get to the truth.

    Supreme Court hearings resume today.

    ps. Sir Joeam, you said “As I understand it, the case is with the Supreme Court. I am prepared to accept the findings of the court, and trust you are, too.”

    do I sense that you are about to concede defeat ? hehehe

    • Joe America says:

      Ahahahaha, yes, yes, I think the Supreme Court is not political on this matter and will make a proper decision. I’ll acknowledge defeat, after the fact, but not concede it now. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • surfer sison says:

        my fearless forecast: DMCI will lose this case. they will have to try to get compensation from the city of Manila. good luck with that 😛

        ps. sir Joe, does your bookie Sal take bets ? 🙂

  63. surfer sison says:

    Supreme Court hearings today

    • surfer sison says:

      DMCI had a rough day in the Supreme Court today.

      Only Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza was able to interpellate DMCI’s counsel today.
      Among the issues discussed are as follows:

      1. Conservation : Contrary to the claim of DMCI that words such as ” sight lines “and “settings” are not found in the law, Justice Jardeleza mentioned that article 22 of RA 10086 stated the National Historical Commission should “…ensure that preservation, restoration and conservation techniques and procedures are in accordance with the accepted international standards set in protecting historical objects and materials” . One such international standard is the Venice Charter that includes concepts such as sight lines and settings.

      2. DMCI claims they can build up to 49 storeys since the NHCP gave them their clearance. But according to Justice Jardeleza, the NHCP might have committed grave abuse of discretion by not following the guidelines and rules it had set for itself.

      3. DMCI claims that since they got a zoning permit, they can build accordingly. Not so, according to Justice Jardeleza, who pointed legal precedents like the Pandacan Oil Depot where the Supreme Court decided that “there is no vested right to permits ”

      4. Jardeleza questioned DMCI on the seeming contradiction of their actions to their professed beliefs as embodied in their Corporate Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.

      5. the grounds for just compensation to DMCI is still not a sure thing. Justice Jardeleza is questioning why DMCI decided to proceed the decision to build a 2.7 billion php project knowing full well that there are many risks involved. These risk include the need to obtain a zoning variance from the city of Manila, the risk that the general public might sue DMCI for violation of public right, the need to get clearances from various historical and cultural government agencies, etc. Jardeleza is asking for an official timeline of the project to see if there was indeed ” good faith” and prudence on the part of DMCI ‘s actions.

      Based on today’s hearing, I consider Jardeleza solidly on the side of the Rizalistas.

      next hearing is on Aug. 11 , 2 pm.

  64. surfer sison says:

    it is interesting to see if my take on the Supreme Court hearings matches with what we find in the news media.

    although the news headline below and the first paragraphs seem to favor DMCI
    ( i suspect no newspaper wants to put a very negative review of what happened in the Supreme Court hearing, considering the amount of advertising this giant firm spends year in , year out )

    read between the lines. It is very similar to the breaking news 😛 i wrote yesterday evening.

    Justice Jardeleza’s opinion matters a lot because he is the assigned opinion writer of this case.
    and he is solidly on the side of the Rizalistas. 💡

    Torre de Manila lawyer: Trick shots distorting truth

    By: Jerome Aning

    The lawyer for developer DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI), Victor Lazatin, dismissed the photos showing the Torre de Manila marring the vista of the monument as “trick shots” that distorted the truth.

    The condominium was erected lawfully despite complaints that the building ruined the view of the Rizal Monument, the counsel of DMCI told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

    Lazatin also said that the condominium project had a social function as it provided affordable housing to the public, noting that at P70,000 per square meter, Torre de Manila was “cheap.”

    At the oral arguments, the DMCI lawyer and Justice Francis Jardeleza, the assigned writer of the court’s opinion, debated on whether the Constitution’s provision on the conservation of the country’s historical and cultural heritage covered sight line, vista, visual corridor, dominance and settings applicable to monuments.

    2 constitutional issues

    The justice said that the case pertained to constitutional issues that have “far-reaching implications” and that DMCI had two things going against it: public right and injury in fact.

    Jardeleza said the complaint of the Knights of Rizal pointed to an injury in fact since its members go to the monument twice a year and hold ceremonies there.

    As for the public right, which the group claimed that DMCI violated, the justice said it would depend on the court’s interpretation of the applicability of three provisions in the Constitution pertaining to culture, particularly Article XIV, Section 15.


    The section states, “The State shall conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations.”

    When the Constitution was crafted in 1986 by the Constitutional Commission there were already definitions of the word “conservation,” which include vistas and settings of monuments, according to Jardeleza.

    The justice cited international conventions in reply to Lazatin’s contention that the word “conserve” should not be interpreted technically.

    Lazatin spoke before the justices to contest allegations that the Torre de Manila “photobombed” the Rizal Monument. He said photos on social media and newspapers showing the condominium looming over the monument were “trick shots that used photo lenses that distort the truth.”

    He insisted that the lot where the condominium was built upon was not historical, having been the parking lot of the demolished Jai Alai building on Taft Avenue.

    The high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the condominium project in June following a petition filed by the Knights of Rizal that the 49-story building ruined the view of the monument and thus disrespected national hero Jose Rizal, whose remains are entombed in the monument.

    Damage to firm

    Lazatin asked the Supreme Court to recall the TRO, saying DMCI had already suffered irreparable damage because the sale of units of the high-rise condominium was halted.

    He added that construction workers were suffering from loss of income as they were temporarily deprived of their jobs.

    The lawyer recalled a previous Supreme Court ruling that he said constituted the taking of a private property and therefore the owner should be compensated because it imposed limitations on private property to preserve the beauty of a public park.

    Jardeleza said the court would decide the controversy “on the threshold” and “on purely legal issues,” adding that allegations of “photobombings” and undeserved criticism of DMCI were factual matters that the high tribunal, being not a trier of facts, cannot entertain.

    Unesco convention

    Jardeleza also referred to a 2003 Unesco convention on the protection of intangible cultural heritage, which the Philippines signed, and asked Lazatin whether it covered landscapes and settings of a monument.

    Lazatin maintained that the protection afforded to the Rizal Monument only pertained to its physical integrity.

    “The statue does not possess a super-constitutional power that acts as laser-sword that any building that exceeds the line of sight will be torn down,” he said.

    Lazatin recalled that even the high court had planned to construct the Manila Hall of Justice near Torre de Manila.

    Jardeleza pointed out that DMCI’s defense of its property rights clashed with “quintessential” values held by Filipinos, namely that property has a social function and that Rizal, being the national hero, and his final resting place, are held in reverence and awe.

    Mere P655M profit

    Lazatin claimed that Torre de Manila also served social functions as it would give affordable housing, with its cheap P70,000-per-square-meter cost. He said DMCI invested a total of P4.2 billion and expected a mere P655 million, or 17 percent, as profit.

    “Nobody is saying that it is wrong with providing homes. The question is when your ability to make a profit collides with values [people hold about] culture. Why on earth of all places do you have to build where the Torre is?” Jardeleza replied.

    The justice asked whether DMCI had a “land bank,” or other lots where they could have built Torre de Manila.

    Lazatin advanced DMCI’s claim that it relied on the declaration of the National Historical Commission on the Philippines (NHCP) that the location of the high-rise was not a historical site.

    However, Jardeleza said that since the lawyer “tabled” the issue, it would be the court that would interpret whether the NHCP followed its own guidelines in making the declaration.

    ‘Client took risk’

    The last part of Jardeleza’s four-hour questioning pertained to whether DMCI conducted risk assessment and management in securing exemptions to a Manila zoning ordinance so that the company could construct the building and continue constructing despite mounting objections by cultural agencies and conservationists.

    The zoning ordinance allows school and government buildings of only up to seven stories to rise in the area.

    “Good faith cannot help your client because your client took a risk,” the justice said.

    Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio adjourned the oral arguments at 6:30 p.m.

    Lazatin will be questioned by other justices when the oral arguments resume on Aug. 11.

    Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/710537/tor … z3htQdb900
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

  65. surfer sison says:

    Supreme Court Question No. 2. the specific laws, statutes, ordinances and international covenants that the DMCI breached as a result of the construction of the Torre de Manila and how does the said tower become a nuisance per se; and what are the legal consequences of the violation of any of these laws

    Sections 14, 15, 16 and 17, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution:

    “The Constitution likewise mandates the State to conserve, develop, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations. It further provides that all the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State, which may regulate its disposition.”

    RA 10066:
    “Section 15. Conservation of Cultural Property. – All intervention works and measures on conservation of national cultural treasures, important cultural property, as well as national historical landmarks, sites or monuments and structures previously marked by the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute before the implementation of this Act, shall be undertaken through the appropriate cultural agency which shall supervise the same.

    The appropriate cultural agency shall approve only those methods and materials that strictly adhere to the accepted international standards of conservation.”

    RA 10086:

    “the State shall provide the means to strengthen people’s nationalism, love of country, respect for its heroes and pride for the people’s accomplishments by reinforcing the importance of Philippine national and local history in daily life with the end in view of raising social consciousness; reinvigorating government support for historical research; and sustaining and enhancing programs for the protection, preservation and conservation of historical relics and memorabilia, monuments, sites and other historical resources.”

    Venice Charter:
    “Article 6. The conservation of a monument implies preserving a setting which is not out of scale. Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification which would alter the relations of mass and color must be allowed.”

    Civil Code of the Philippines :

    “Art. 694. A nuisance is any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else which:

    (1) Injures or endangers the health or safety of others; or

    (2) Annoys or offends the senses; or

    (3) Shocks, defies or disregards decency or morality; or

    (4) Obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any public highway or street, or any body of water; or

    (5) Hinders or impairs the use of property.”

    manila zoning ordinance

    the torre de manila exceeded its allowable floor area ratio of 4.

    What are the legal consequences?

    partial demolition.

  66. Melanie says:

    Surfer, I bow to you. Give yourself a pat on your back. You have single handedly defended what others see as “indefensible”. I am totally against TDM, and supports your position. I am having second thoughts tho on what is the best solution to this. Would destruction/ demolition bring any justice to the” oppress/suppress/depress”( “Filipinos “) or would building a monument behind Rizal( as suggested by a certain mrericx) be a good option?… Of course, whatever decision we made would impact negatively or positively in the international scene. After reading and re reading the threads I still could not get the ” appropriate answer” .. I guess there is none.

  67. surfer sison says:

    Dear Melanie,

    DMCI took very expensive “purposive risks” that is turning out to be misguided, to say the least.

    Last January 13 , the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) issued a cease and desist order stopping the construction of Torre de Manila. At that time, the project was just 30% complete. Did DMCI stop ? They did not. They even have the gall to intimidate the NCCA by suing them in court. They told everybody that only the Supreme Court can stop them from continuing their construction.

    Now, all 49 storeys of the structure is built.
    If it is proven in the next hearings that the cease and desist order of the NCCA is legal and in order, then everything DMCI built from January 13 to how it appears right now will not be qualified for any compensation( if ever they are qualified to get any compensation.)

    Now, on your concern about how the international community will judge us, do not believe in those “business leaders” who are telling the media that an adverse decision against DMCI will hurt business confidence and affect our international image. Do not fall victim to that kind of emotional blackmail.

    I am a businessman myself but i will never accept that cr–. they are forcing on us. As long as everyone can see that DMCI was treated fairly, I actually believe everyone will respect us for standing our ground in preserving our historical heritage as mandated by our Constitution.

    • Hi Surfer, as usual.you never ceases to amaze me. Like I said I share your sentiments and would gladly knocked it down anytime, regardless of what others would say( I think it comes with age… You start to care less about what people say😛). Anyhow, if ever I think the international community will actually look at this( demolition of TDM) in a favourable light. Finally… As my elders used to say , ” nagka- bayag” ang pilipinas!!
      In addition to aesthetic and cultural insensitivity of the project and blatant disregards of cease and desist order of NCAA , am also very concern about the safety factors ( in the event of an earthquake ). Just one thing tho I would like to hear your take on an idea thrown by a blogger( well , not actually his, but credit to him for bringing it to our attention ) .. A monument behind Rizal. I think it adds “value”.. With Rizal’s life, including his untimely death/ execution, clearly see, and as the saying goes.. lest we forget.

  68. surfer sison says:

    dear Melanie,

    i think you are referring to the” wall with Rizal’s story” proposed by the blogger that will supposedly block the photobombing Torre.

    i am against it because there is no way it will be able to block the eyesore.

    secondly and most importantly, building something behind Rizal monument is not an internationally acceptable practice in conserving a historically important monument.
    i quote the Venice Charter:

    “Article 6. The conservation of a monument implies preserving a setting which is not out of scale. Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification which would alter the relations of mass and color must be allowed.”

  69. surfer sison says:

    live stream hearing today

  70. surfer sison says:

    here are the highlights of today’s hearing no. 3

    1. Justice Jardeleza: Torre de Manila’s residents numbering around 700 will have a good view of the Rizal Park and the Manila Bay.
    What about the views of millions of Filipinos whose views will be obstructed ?

    2. SJ Carpio: “Under the Constitution, what is not prohibited by law is allowed. To deprive someone of property, there must be due process ”

    J Carpio states that deprivation of property must be under police power or compensation.

    I think Carpio is on the side of DMCI and arguing for that DMCI should get just compensation.

    3. Justice Leonen: the zoning permit issued to DMCI by the City Planning officer June 19,2012 with a FAR of 13 is in clear violation of the Manila City zoning Ordinance that set the FAR of 4 for the TDM area. This City Planning Officer probably is guilty corrupt practice under the Anti-Graft Law.

    DMCI did pre-selling activities and construction around Oct and November 2012 even if they are in violation of the zoning ordinance.
    It is only later that DMCI sought to cure this defect when they got their zoning variance in 2014.

    Leonen asked DMCI counsel why his client relied heavily on the opinion of the city planning officer without checking the validity of the zoning permit they were issued.

    4. Justice Terresita de Castro said she passes through Rizal Park quite often and there are certain spots where one would have a very bad view showing the TDM overpowering the Rizal monument.

    Seems like most Justices who interpellated today were siding with the Knights of Rizal with the notable exception of Justice Carpio.

    • Joe America says:

      I tend to follow Justice Leonen because I have found his prior opinions to be impeccable as to reasoning. It appears that he is using the hearing for its intended purpose, discovery, and is well aware of both sides, advocating neither, challenging both.

      Thanks for the update.

  71. surfer sison says:

    DMCI is in hot water. They started selling and building when they had a defective zoning permit !

    You see…Sir JoeAm, Justice Leonen asking the tough questions. 🙂

    SC justice questions Torre de Manila zoning permit
    Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asks why DMCI started constructing Torre de Manila in 2012 when it was only granted variance to build beyond the allowed height 2 years after

    Vincent Bascos
    Published 8:32 PM, August 11, 2015
    Updated 8:32 PM, Aug 11, 2015

    MANILA, Philippines – Citing an irregularity, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen questioned the validity of the zoning permit issued by the city government of Manila to DMCI Homes for the construction of Torre de Manila.
    “I’m confused. The city planning officer approved the permit, which already includes the variance, but in June 19, 2012, there was no resolution or ordinance from the city council allowing the variance?” said Leonen when the court heart oral arguments on the case on Tuesday, August 11.
    The zoning permit in question was approved by Manila city’s planning and development officer, Resty Rebong, on June 19, 2012. It granted DMCI a variance to build a 49-story condominium.
    DMCI also started pre-selling parts of the property in October 2012 and started construction in November 2012, according to DMCI’s lawyer Victor Lazatin.
    Leonen questioned the validity of the permit, asking Lazatin how DMCI could have started building Torre de Manila when the variance was only approved 2 years after acquiring the zoning permit.
    Leonen cited section 63 of the Manila Zoning Ordinance noting that in cases of variances and exceptions, developers should refer to the Sangguniang Panlungsod, Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MZBAA) and the Committee on Housing, Urban Development and resettlements “prior to conducting any business activity or construction on their property/land.”
    Furthermore, Leonen questioned how Rebong could have granted DMCI variance for Torre de Manila, when Manila’s zoning ordinance was still in effect.
    Lazatin said there was no reason for DMCI to go to MZBAA since the variance for the construction of the condominium was already approved by the city planning and development officer.
    He also argued that the city’s zoning ordinance was also suspended by the “executive branch” and that the legal opinion of the city of Manila was that the construction of Torre de Manila did not violate any laws or ordinances.
    Leonen then asked for the legal basis for the suspension of the zoning ordinance favoring the construction of the high-rise condominium.
    DMCI lawyer Roberto Dio admitted that they could not see “any provision authorizing the city of Manila to suspend the ordinance.” Dio added that the company only “relied on the legal opinion of the city planning and development officer” at the time.
    “I’m quite worried. You paid P1.135 million for a zoning permit which now appears, at face value, based simply on the ordinance and the documents, to have violated section 63,” Leonen said. – Rappler.com

  72. surfer sison says:

    Did Justice Marvic Leonen deliver the knock out punch yesterday ?

    Justice Antonio Carpio put forward the idea that since DMCI did not break any law, then there is nothing to stop DMCI from continuing to construct Torre de Manila.

    But Justice Leonen’s interpellation seems to show that DMCI started pre-selling and constructing based on a defective zoning permit given by a city planning officer who went beyond his authority and blatantly disregarded the existing Manila zoning ordinance.

    Without a proper Zoning Permit, you are not allowed to do any business or start construction.

    unless proven otherwise, DMCI broke the law.

    • edgar lores says:


      My take: whether the permit was defective or not, it was still granted to DMCI. The city planning officer works for the city government, and officially represents the city government.

  73. surfer sison says:

    this was a 4.2 Billion peso project. Justice Leonen noted that it is quite strange that DMCI relied on the say so of a city planning officer. it is now turning out that this guy undermined the authority of the Manila city council and the zoning board by granting a zoning permit of the condo project that obviously is violation of with the zoning regulations many times over.

    For a big corporation like DMCI with its phalanx of lawyers, they did not realise beforehand that they were standing on shaky ground ?

    as they say, ignorance of the law excuses no one.

  74. Paulo Ortega says:

    Interesting piece though I do not quite agree myself with your opinions. DMCI’s conduct in all of this has been suspicious from the very beginning with so much back-and-forths going on about the permits and the city officials. DMCI as of late has had quite a laundry list of offenses and questionable business practices all over the country:


    If they’re capable of even half of what that blog lists, I would seriously doubt anyone who is inclined to disregard what his colleagues and superiors find appropriate and allow DMCI to do what they want

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the bigger picture of DMCI. The SC opinions ought to be most fascinating readings, the interplay between government and private institutions and the laws . . . and time.

  75. surfer sison says:

    this is why i am so pissed off with DMCI.
    as early as 2012, they are already made aware of their zoning ordinance violations and the public protest against their project.

    yet, they never bothered to attend the public hearings.

    what they did was to bypass the Manila City Council and got a zoning permit from a city planning officer who is not authorised to approve any variance from the zoning ordinance.

    now they are claiming that they are the ” innocent party in good faith” ?

    hellooooo, Mr. DMC, you are investing billions of pesos, but you did not bother to check that zoning variances cannot be approved by this city planning officer ?

    DMCI, Ayala Land under fire for Manila Land Use, Zoning Code ‘violations’
    July 2, 2012 6:13pm


    After cultural activists scrutinized the construction and development projects of Ayala Land Inc.’s Amaia Land and D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI), Manila City officials claimed the companies’ respective projects violated the city’s Zoning Code.

    The Manila City Council held its second public hearing Friday on the construction of DMCI’s Torre de Manila close to the monument of national hero Jose Rizal in Rizal Park and Ayala Land’s Amaia Skies Santa Ana Condominium.

    City officials say both developers failed to send representatives for the second time, despite having been served a one-week notice.

    Councilor Ernesto Isip, chair of the committee on laws and spokesperson of Manila City Council told GMA News Online in a phone interview that DMCI and Ayala Land have violated Section 22 and Section 47 of Ordinance 8119, also known as the Manila Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

    Section 22 regulates the use of Histo-Cultural Heritage/Overlay Zone (O-HCH), or “areas containing registered historical or cultural heritage that deserve special consideration for protection and conservation.”

    On the other hand, Section 47 oversees the development of historic sites and facilities by establishing historical preservation and conservation standards.

    There is no violation

    However, an official of Amaia Land, who requested anonymity, denied they violated any law. In a statement sent to GMA News Online he noted, “Amaia has not begun to physically develop the property nor does it have any pending applications for permits for the project; thus it is not in violation of any law.”

    Moreover, the company is only at its initial phase of evaluation. “We are only in the conceptual and feasibility stage of the project and still in the process of evaluating the information regarding the site,” he added.

    As of this posting, no official statement has been released by DMCI, despite efforts by GMA News Online to get their side on this matter.

    Unlike the Amaia Skies Santa Ana project, DMCI’s Torre de Manila is way past conceptualization phase. The project profile, floor plans and other details of the Torre de Manila are posted on the DMCI Homes website.

    Sought for comment, DMCI marketing manager Jan Penturanza could only say that the property development unit of listed firm DMCI Holdings “is monitoring the situation.”

    The building plans of the Torre de Manila has a link on the website, but when the supposedly 738 kilobyte file is downloaded and is opened, there are no pages to open.

    The website also has a section wherein a posted photograph of a night time perspective view of the Rizal Shrine shows the planned DMCI high rise as the only structure jutting out from the horizon in the background of the Rizal monument.

    Zoning ordinance

    “Following our zoning ordinance, Torre de Manila is only allowed a maximum floor area ratio of 4. However, if we calculate it based on their plans, we’re going to arrive at 7.79,” Isip explained.

    Moreover, he said the planned high-rise condominium is located inside the Institutional University Cluster, which imposes a maximum floor area ratio of 4, and maximum percentage of land occupancy of 0.6.

    The floor area of Torre de Manila, a planned 41-story condominium, is approximately 66,256 sqm. Each floor is estimated at 1,616 sq m.

    “The same goes for Amaia Skies Santa Ana. It’s only allowed a maximum floor area ratio of four. But following their lot plan, it’s going to reach a floor area ratio of sixteen,” Isip said.

    He said that Amaia Skies Santa Ana, a proposed 30-story condominium, is located inside a residential or mixed-use area, which imposes a maximum floor area ratio of 4, and maximum percentage of land occupancy of 0.6.

    The 30-story condominium is estimated at 72,000 sqm with 1,200 sqm per floor.

    The resolution to investigate DMCI and Ayala Land was authored by Councilor Joy Dawis Asuncion, also a professional architect.

    NHCP: Preserve the setting, building height matters

    While the Manila councilors focus their attention on floor area ratios, the guidelines of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on monuments honoring national heroes gives particular emphasis on building height, vista points, visual corridors, the preservation of settings, and urge local governments to put in place and carry out the implementing laws.

    “Height of buildings surrounding or in the immediate vicinity of the monument/site should be regulated by local building code regulation or special local ordinance to enhance the prominence, dominance and dignity of the monument, more importantly, the national monuments,” according to the NHCP guidelines.

    The NHCP guidelines also point out that “setting is not only limited with the exact area that is directly occupied by the monument, but it extends to the surrounding areas whether open space or occupied by other structures as may be defined by the traditional or juridical expanse of the property.”

    The same guidelines also cite Article 6 of the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites which provides that the “conservation of a monument implies preserving a setting, which is not out of scale. Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification, which would alter the relations of mass and color, must be allowed.”

    ‘We’re not anti-business’

    Cultural activist Carlos Celdran welcomed the good news, and asserted the importance of protecting the heritage.

    “This just sends a message that people are more aware of their heritage, that people are becoming more vigilant. Businesses can’t just bully their way around,” he in a separate phone interview with GMA News Online.

    “They say we’re anti-business. No, we’re just looking for a better deal,” he added.

    Celdran advised businesses to go online and tune in to people’s sentiments.

    “Businesses need to listen, especially to people in social networking sites,” he said.

    ‘Due process’ was served

    Vice Mayor Isko Moreno noted the Manila City Council has extended to DMCI and Ayala Land the opportunity to hear their side of the story.

    “The head of the committee gave an invitation twice but they declined to attend. Sila ang hindi nagpunta. Due process has already been served,” Moreno told GMA News Online in separate a phone interview.

    “Tayo Ilagay lang natin sa lugar. If these people violate ordinances, hindi pwedeng ituloy. Ganun kasimple,” Moreno added.

    Councilor Joel Chua, chair of the committee on oversight, also carried the same sentiment.

    “Feeling namin, may bad faith on their part. They just want to delay it. We’re concluding the public hearing,” Chua said.

    “A committee report on the findings of the oversight committee with respect to the violation of DMCI and Ayala Land will be submitted to the City Council on July 3 for deliberation,” he added. —VS/ELR, GMA News
    – See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/26 … XlM8U.dpuf

    next hearing on tuesday.

  76. surfer sison says:

    Rule of law not followed in Torre de Manila permit – SC Justice Jardeleza
    SC Justice Francis Jardeleza says 4 ‘layers of protection’ were ignored when DMCI was granted a zoning permit for Torre de Manila even without a city council resolution at the time

    Katerina Francisco
    Published 5:43 PM, August 18, 2015
    Updated 5:43 PM, Aug 18, 2015

    MANILA, Philippines – In the 4th round of oral arguments on the controversial Torre de Manila condominium, a Supreme Court (SC) justice said on Tuesday, August 18, that the rule of law was not followed when the Manila city government granted permits for the construction of the 49-story building.

    Citing excerpts from Ordinance No. 8119, or the Manila zoning ordinance, SC Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza said that 4 layers of protection were ignored when DMCI Homes, the condominium’s developer, was given the permits to build the high-rise residential project:

    Buildings under the university cluster, where the Torre de Manila stands, impose a maximum floor-area ratio of 4. Torre de Manila’s building plans show that it will have a floor-area ratio of 7.79.
    Section 22 of the ordinance prescribes building regulations in histo-cultural preservation zones.
    Section 23 states that the floor-area ratio requirement should be complied with “in all instances” and that the validity of this requirement will only be superseded by regulations specified for the zone.
    Section 47 requires a heritage impact statement to be submitted to the city planning and development office.
    In his 3-hour interpellation of Manila city legal officer Jose Alberto Flaminiano, Jardeleza said that the rule of law was not followed despite the provisions in the ordinance.

    Variance application

    In June 2012, Manila city’s planning and development officer, Resty Rebong, approved the zoning permit for Torre de Manila.

    Under Sections 60, 61, and 62 of the ordinance, real estate developers seeking exemptions from the prescribed allowable land use limits must apply for a variance, which should be approved by the city council.

    But Flaminiano admitted that at the time the permits were granted, DMCI had not yet applied for a variance. The approval of the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MZBAA) came in 2014, two years after DMCI started construction.

    Disregarded layers of protection

    “According to your ordinance, you are obliged to enforce Section 23. If anyone wants to be excused from Section 23, what should they do?” Jardeleza asked.

    “Apply for variance, your honor,” Flaminiano responded.

    “Ergo, it seems that the rule of law was not followed. And that’s just in Section 23,” Jardeleza said.

    The SC justice hit the city government’s decision to issue the zoning permit despite the limitations spelled out in the ordinance.

    “Who gave that person the authority to disregard the 4 layers of protection?” he asked.

    Issued approvals

    In last week’s oral arguments, Justice Marvic Leonen also questioned the zoning permit issued to DMCI, asking lawyer Victor Lazatin how they could have started construction of Torre de Manila even without a resolution from the city council or the MZBAA.

    Lazatin replied that they saw no reason to go to the MZBAA because of the approval issued by the Manila city planning and development officer.

    The High Court is hearing the September 2014 petition filed by the Knights of Rizal seeking to stop the construction of Torre de Manila because it destroys the “visual dominance” of the Rizal Monument.

    The next round of oral arguments is set for August 25 at 3 pm. – Rappler.com

  77. surfer sison says:

    the oral arguments on this TDM is completed.

    here is what i see in my crystal ball :

    1. Supreme Court will rule that the intent of our Constitution and our Laws is that sight lines and background are included in the definition of ” physical integrity”

    2. Torre de Manila impairs the ” physical integrity” of the Rizal Monument.

    3. City of Manila committed grave abuse of discretion in exempting TDM from its zoning ordinance resulting in the impairment of the physical integrity of the Rizal monument.

    4. the Supreme Court will order the City of Manila to determine how many storeys must be demolished based on the Floor Area Ratio of 4 and order DMCI to demolish accordingly.

    5. DMCI can try to seek compensation from the city of Manila through another court case or by mutual agreement.

    let’s see…. 😛

  78. edgar lores says:

    And after two years, the SC has come down with a decision: let the tower stay and grow.


    • Two ways to look at it.

      1) Commerce 1, Artists 0
      2) Legal technicalities 1, Artists 0

      I did the article saying the construction should continue, given that it was half done already. To stop would be a waste when views come and go and the unfortunate deed was done. Waste is a (controllable) way of life in the PH, but there are lots of views.

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