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Visit Manila 2021: Mayor Isko’s Vision To Restore The City To Attract More Tourists

Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso took his oath as the new mayor of the City of Manila on Sunday, June 30, 2019. During his oath-taking, he expressed his plans to revive Manila’s historic areas from Escolta to Divisoria. The city mayor called his grand dream “Visit Manila” which aims to make the country’s capital city a great tourist attraction of about two years in the making.

Make Escolta the top business district of Manila

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Mayor Isko is reaching out to the country’s tycoons to invest in the old business district of Escolta to bring back its former glory. He said he had dinner with SM Investments Corp’s vice-chairman Teresita Sy-Coson, Ayala Corp chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, and Alliance Global CEO Kevin Tan to convey his plans.

The mayor asked the top businessmen to hire residents from Manila itself.

“Yan ang aking personal request, kung magtatayo ng branch, kung magtatayo ng franchise, magtatayo ng development, ang pakiusap ko at the very least, 70 percent ng i-hire nilang empleyado ay taga lungsod ng Maynila,” he said.

He reasoned out that giving jobs to Manila residents will lessen the criminality rate.

So, fewer crimes mean more people are not afraid to visit Escolta. It also means more tourist willing to enjoy the planned-to-be-restored business district.

Connecting all the heritage sites of Manila

Mayor Isko is foreseeing a so-called “tourism circuit” that will serve as the historic trail to different heritage sites of Manila.

He is coordinating with the Intramuros Administration (IA) Administrator Guiller Asido and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Pocholo Paragas to fulfill the plan.

TIEZA is the government agency under the Department of Tourism (DoT). On the other hand, IA is a DoT-attached-government agency which is responsible for the restoration and development of Intramuros which was built in the 18th century.

The “tourism circuit” will connect Intramuros, National Museum of the Philippines, Rizal Park, Chinatown, and other heritage sites of the city.

“In line with the reintegration of the Manila city government into the policies put forward by our national government agencies, I’m calling your support to revive the cultural heritage of the city,” he told Paragas and Asido.

Asido promised to fix the problem of the Lawton-Intramuros underpass occupied by a number of vendors who also lived there at night. The underpass was also damaged and full of vandals.

Paragas vowed to add more pedestrian lanes and light post within Intramuros. He also requested the removal of illegal settlers at the Club Intramuros Gold Course.

Divisoria as “shopping paradise” of Southeast Asia

A lot of crackdowns of illegal vendors created mixed reactions. Most are happy, but some are worried about the livelihood of those affected. The DoT has seen all of these as beneficial in the long run.

DoT Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado even praised the mayor’s efforts to clean up Divisoria. He said the continuous commitment could lead to making Divisoria as Southeast Asia’s next “shopping paradise.”

Saving the only remaining forest park of Manila

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The last lung of Manila, the Arroceros Forest Park was planned to transform into commercial space. Mayor Isko immediately assured the citizens after elected that the forest park will not be sold.

The mayor said in an interview with dzMM, “…we will develop Arroceros Park because that’s the only breathing space for Lawton sa Manila.”

Aside from the park, he also committed to protecting the Manila Zoo, which has been temporarily closed as it was considered the top pollutant of Manila Bay.

Reclaim them for our children

Besides all the mentioned plans, the city mayor is eyeing for the rehabilitation of 47 public recreational parks.

He said this is part of his efforts to reclaim free public spaces, especially where children can grow instead of commercial spaces like malls.

“It is time to reclaim them for our children. Para sila at tayo ay may pahingahan, pahanginan at palaruan. Huwag po nating hayaan lumaki ang ating mga anak na ang concept ng open space ay ang lobby lamang ng mga malls,”

All of these seemingly impossible feats to make Manila a great tourist destination by the year 2021 is part of the mayor’s legacy for the future generation.


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