A road map in rebuilding Marawi City

In Photo: Pasig River rehabilitation plan proposal

JUST like the legendary phoenix, Marawi City will rise from the ashes. From the ruins, it is a great chance for the government to develop Marawi into a modern, resilient, sustainable and world-class city.

Tzu Chi schools in Iran

In a recent interview with the BusinessMirror, urban planner and architect Felino Palafox Jr. revealed to a group of reporters his rehabilitation plan for Marawi once the situation normalizes.

“One of my recommendations to the government is to transform Marawi City as a medium for global peace. Moreover, it should also be a medium to detest terrorism,” said Palafox, the founder and principal architect of Palafox and Associates, pointed out in an open forum on July 10 at the Asian Institute in Makati City.

Palafox and his company have a wide experience in building and redeveloping places in the country and overseas. In Iran, Palafox Architecture was asked by the Tzu Chi Foundation to build their schools after it was devastated by strong earthquake in Iranian city of Bam. Meanwhile, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Project and the Alaminos development concept are still waiting for approval.

Palafox said, “The Philippines can build a smarter, safer, livable, resilient and walkable city.” Moreover, he said Marawi can be transformed into a modern city based on the Dubai model.

Alaminos, Pangasinan, conceptual development plan

Palafox recalled his experiences in Dubai when he was asked by Sultan Khalifa al Habtoor to design a master-planned community from vast desert lands. “I think Marawi can be the center of peace and inclusivity in Mindanao—Unity in diversity and interfaith,” Palafox said. “We can build a smarter, safer, livable, resilient and walkable city and a modern city that will be inclusive, Islamic, international and interfaith.”

Palafox recalled the experiences in Dubai when he was asked by the leadership to design a master-planned community from its vast desert lands. “I think Marawi can be center of peace and inclusivity in Mindanao. It will have the characteristics of interfaith, Islamic, international and inclusive like Dubai,” he added.

He stressed that some of the ruins caused by the onslaught of terrorism be preserved to remind the people, not only from Marawi but as well as other Filipinos, the horrors and evils of urban terrorism.

Having traveled in more than 38 countries around the world, Palafox shared his observation that government planners abroad put premium in restoring their important landmarks. He also stressed that local planners get an inspiration from the city planners of Rome Warsaw, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other major global cities in preserving important landmarks in their history. He cited Warsaw, the capital of Poland, for preserving the structures, such as the Nazi concentration camps, which serves as reminders of the brutality and horrors of fascism.

Palafox also pointed out the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as good templates in rebuilding Marawi. “Just like the ground zero in Hiroshima, it would be converted to a memorial to show the horrors of urban terrorism,” he pointed out.

Aside from showing the dreadfulness of World War II and the atomic bombs that devastated the Japan’s two cities, Palafox pointed out that Hiroshima and Nagasaki can serve as inspirations to the people to rise from the ruins caused by terrorism.

Aside from Manila, Warsaw was considered by historians as one of the most damaged cities in the world after World War II. The city was rebuilt mainly by the aid provided by the then-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, because Poland belonged to the Warsaw Pact led by Moscow.

Upon the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  On August 9, 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped in Nagasaki. Today, the two cities are thriving and prosperous.

“This would be a better way to use the country’s resources in rebuilding Marawi. The ruins should serve as memorial so people would go to see and learn from that horrible event,” he pointed out.

In other countries, ruins are preserved because they carry important lessons and messages to the succeeding generations. “In other words, we can preserve the ruins as living museums on terrorism,” he added. Elaborating his vision for Marawi, Palafox stressed it is important for the government to have foresight or long-term vision approach to development. “This is one of the characteristics of Dubai that the Philippine government and the Filipino people can learn from and emulate, along with strong political will, good governance, good planning and good design,” Palafox explained.

He also urged the government to pursue the development of information and communications technology to ensure good governance.

“I hope the President will listen to our proposal,” Palafox said.