See Photos of the Rehabilitated Green Parks in Metro Manila's Urban Jungle
One of the things that proved to be beneficial in this era of physical distancing is the existence of public parks and urban green spaces. In Valenzuela City, north of Metro Manila, there are already three parks, a fishing village, and a mini-park, all part of their urban greening efforts. Now, two more open spaces and a bike lane are in the local government's pipeline.
"We want people to perceive Valenzuela not only as a place where one can do business but more importantly, as the best place to raise a family and stimulate a person's creativity. We offer our parks as recreational facilities where Valenzuelanos can spend time together or unwind from the demands of their fast-paced lives, or just relax," Mayor Rex Gatchalian said during the city's Earth Day celebration on April 22.
The Valenzuela Parks
Valenzuela City opened the rehabilitated Polo Park on January 21, 2020. It's not only an open space with a few green patches, but a place of heritage that commemorates war veterans through a memorial marker. There are also commemorative statues of Filipino heroes Dr. Pio Valenzuela and Dr. Jose Rizal around the park.
Then there's the Valenzuela City Family Park along Gen. T. De Leon Avenue, which opened in February 2019. This nature-inspired space preserves century-old trees and features an aviary, a playground, and a fountain area.
Valenzuela City People’s Park along MacArthur Highway was the first of three parks when it opened in February 2015. The urban park is often used for local concerts, plays, and activities that revolve around various holidays. It also has an interactive dancing fountain, a pavilion, a life-sized chessboard, picnic tables, and zoological spaces.
The World Health Organization recommends alloting 9 to 50 square-meters of green space per person to make a city livable. Urban green spaces can promote mental and physical health, alleviate stress, stimulate social cohesion, and reduce exposure to air pollution and excessive heat, according to the organization. If they want to follow this guideline, Valenzuela City's allotment for green spaces must be at 705.12 hectares. The three parks total a combined land area of 2.28 hectares, while the other existing green spaces in the city are at 269.59 hectares. Valenzuela needs about 400 hectares more of green spaces.
"Public spaces should not be an ideal but should rather be a pre-requisite. These are facilities that give a person the sense of confidence," Gatchalian added.
In 2018, Valenzuela was recognized for being one of the cities and municipalities in Southeast Asia with the cleanest air. This was based on the Air Quality Report from Switzerland-based IQ AirVisual and Greenpeace.
Currently in the works are Valenzuela City Sports Park in Barangay Wawang Pulo, Arkong Bato Linear Park in Barangay Arkong Bato, a 6.7-kilometer bike lane along MacArthur Highway, and an urban garden called Integrated Community Food Production Project in Disiplina Village Bignay.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.