A vicissitude of growth: the view of Manila’s iconic Rizal Monument with a 46-story condominium as a backdrop

RizalMonument-Phobombed-530x300A 46-story condominium building – Torre de Manila – has risen in the city of Manila, creating a new and imposing backdrop for the city’s iconic Rizal Monument at the Luneta Park. Members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal claim that the condominium building is effectively photobombing and desecrating the venerable monument.

While the Order of the Knights of Rizal has won a temporary restraining order that stops work on the towering edifice, it is unlikely that the building’s construction will be permanently halted, or that the building – almost complete as it is – will be ordered torn down.

Opposition to the construction of the Torre is a natural reaction to change – change that drastically alters what we’re familiar with or – in this case – what we’re used to seeing. But once change takes place, people adjust to what’s new. Fifty years from today no one would mind that the Torre is seen in the background when visiting the Rizal Monument – because fifty years from today people would expect to see the Torre when they’re at the Monument.

Population growth, new technologies, and urban development result in change – and most times change requires a drastic revision of what we’re used to seeing or feeling.

StatueOfLiberty-530x270The world is replete with examples of landmarks whose views were revised by such vicissitudes. Passengers on vessels entering the New York harbor will hardly notice the Statue of Liberty because of its imposing backdrop – the city and its skyline – a situation that might offend someone who lived in the 1900s. And the Eiffel Tower, from many angles, would hardly be noticeable were it not for its sheer, dominating size.

By the very law of nature, nothing is permanent. Change will take place, whether we like it or not. If it wasn’t the Torre de Manila, it would be something else, sometime, sooner or later.

If the Order of the Knights of Rizal is truly concerned about its view, they should consider rearranging the Rizal Monument so that it has the Manila Bay for a background. Having the city skyline – and its ever changing architecture – as a backdrop to the monument is a mistake.

About Julius Willis

A former Philippines newspaper publisher and businessman, Julius resettled in California, USA, where he simultaneously worked as an instructional and technical writer and engineering department manager and taught college for 26 years. Now retired, he serves as a member of the Alameda County Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee. He also served as a member of the City of Hayward's General Plan Task Force and the city's Planning, Personnel, Citizens Advisory, and Community Services commissions.
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