Laguna de Bay: A vision for the future

In the micro-scale perspective on the rehabilitation and development of Laguna Lake (LL), plans were crafted to properly and judiciously allocate proper land uses, especially for the Eco-Areas.

These areas are a unique feature of the project where artificial islands are made from dredged materials and are planned as green developments of open spaces, parks, flora and fauna sanctuaries, and low-environmental impact developments. To add, ferry stations are also designed, applying green architectural principles.

Water Transport System
As mentioned, the development of an efficient and environment-friendly mass transport system is proposed to
service various growth areas around LL. These growth areas, where the ferry stations are proposed, are Binangonan, Taytay, and Angono in the Province of Rizal, Taguig City, and San Pedro and Santa Rosa in the Province of Laguna. These stations have linear and perpendicular connections. Linear linkages refer to ferry service routes that stop at consecutive stations, while perpendicular linkages cross to other stations while bypassing others.

It is anticipated that economic and population growth will soon disperse to the eastern side of LL. To this effect, accessibility and efficient transport becomes an essential. Thus, several additional stations are proposed that will service the southern and eastern areas of Laguna and the central northern areas of Rizal. This expansion will comprise the second phase of the LL Water Transport System. The identification of these suitable areas for service expansion and the designation for additional ferry terminals are based on their demographic, economic, and tourism trends. These proposed stations are located in Cubayao, Calamba City, Los Baños, Bay, Santa Cruz, Sinoloan in Laguna, and Jalajala and Tanay in Rizal. Similarly, they will all have similar linear and perpendicular connections.

Eventually, the LL Water Transport System will be integrated with the current Pasig River Transport System, thus expanding water transport from Manila to as far as eastern Laguna and Rizal. There is also potential to integrate the proposed Manila Bay Water Transport System to the integrated LL-Pasig River Transport System, ultimately tapping the potentials of water transport for increased accessibility, efficient flow of people, goods, and service, and the strengthened linkages from various LGUs. Further feasibility studies and planning will be recommended.

Transport Linkages
In the larger regional perspective, it is anticipated that the prioritized ports in the western section of LL as well as the proposed port expansion in the northern, southern, and eastern areas will act as gateways to farther regions and significant access points. For example, the role of Siniloan Station in the eastern portion of LL will become crucial as stronger land access is prioritized to link the eastern coast of Luzon to LL. Cargo megaships that traverse from far away across the Pacific Ocean may call port to the eastern coast of Quezon Province, where cargo and goods travel through land to reach Siniloan Point and distributed elsewhere after sailing within designated routes within LL.

Numerous plans have already called for the connection of Manila Bay to the Pacific Ocean, which also traverses several stations such as those located in Binangonan, Taytay, Angono, and the proposed expanded station of Tanay within the LL Water Transport System. These stations become tributary gateways to the southern areas of LL. Allowing a north-south linkage reverses the stigma of LL being a blockade of access for the southern coastal towns of LL to reach Rizal Province and other northern areas beyond.

Other proposed ferry stations that have gateway potentials include Santa Rosa, Calamba City, and Santa Cruz. These gateways connect the southern stations of LL overland to terminus coastal areas. Each route also has certain dominating land use characteristics. The western corridor linkage from Santa Rosa City station to Nasugbu, Batangas, is a more tourism-dominating route, passing by tourist destinations of Tagaytay while ending at the beach town of Nasugbu. On the southern section, the Calamba-to-Batangas-City corridor highlights commercial and institutional development as its main development thrust. Another route, with Calamba City as its main ferry station as well, crosses Taal Lake to Taal town proper, and potentially as far as Puerto Gallera. The route from Santa Cruz to Mauban, Quezon, on the other hand, looks at opening an additional access linkage of the LL region to the Pacific coast. Overall, all ferry stations will play significant roles for these development corridors to ensue.

During and after Ondoy, Laguna Lakeshore was flooded for more than 65 days. From more than 80,000 hectares, the footprint of the lake expanded to 115,000 hectares; much larger than the land areas of Metro Manila or Singapore. This excess water could be stored or collected to supply water to MM. The holding capacity of LL could be increased tremendously by deepening, desilting, and dredging the lake. With dikes around the lake and our proposal to integrate the water reservoir underneath the walkways, promenade, and parks, we could have huge volumes of water supply and a world-class urban waterfront development more than 200 kms long. An urban land for lakeshore waterfront urban development can be planned, designed, and developed similar to the lakeshore cities around Lake Michigan like Chicago and other cities, or around Geneva Lake like Geneva and other European cities.

A Call To Immediate Action
Twenty-one rivers, the Manggahan floodway, and other waterways flow into LL. It is now both very critical and imperative that it should be dredged and desilted to make it deeper and increase its holding capacity for rainwater and floodwater to avoid further disastrous floods in MM, Laguna, and Rizal; and create green islands or eco-islands out of the dredging and silting. These are two of the 23 major recommendations we put forward to the previous and current administrations, which include desilting, dredging, and creation of green islands.