The Manila Bay, particularly the promenade that stretches between the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the U.S. Embassy has been in the news again lately giving the never-ending warnings for people not to swim on its shores because its waters is contaminated with chemicals, toxins and other hazardous waste products. The warnings come as people, in their eagerness to beat the summer heat, toil along the waters unmindful of the hazards that could affect their health.
Manila Bay has a proud history, where historic battles have been fought and won, where the marina was once alive, teeming with fish and other aquatic mammals and where your parents brought you when you were small, gazing on the wide sea and running wildly at the vast expanse of green facing the Luneta Grandstand.
Polluted as it is today, nothing still beats its spectacular view and while strolling along its promenade, people still flock there in the early evening to witness its famous sunset, it’s giant red-orange rays dipping past the horizon and slowly disappearing into the foreground signaling the end of another day.
So what does one runner expect to see along the bay on the wee hours of the morning? When running buddy June decided that we ran the Baywalk last Wednesday for a change (his office is just infront of CCP) i immediately agreed. When we started our run at 5:30am from the CCP grounds going southbound towards Rizal Park, there were already some semblance of activity wherein joggers and walkers were already hugging the lanes. Past the Manila Yatch Club, we saw some vendors, vagrants and what have you sleeping on the benches probably waiting for sunrise before they rose up and continue with their daily activities. One also notices fathers angling on their home made fishing rods.
The big difference now is that the restos, watering holes and stalls that lined up the promenade during the time of former Mayor Lito Atienza is no more. Present Mayor Fred Lim dismantled all of them when he assumed the mayorship back in 2007. A boon for runners maybe, but a bane for tourism, definitely. Personally, i don’t think runners would have minded the presence of these stalls as there are still jogging paths that traverse beside these edifices. When we reached the U.S. Embassy, visa seekers were already starting to line-up near the entrances under the watchful eyes of the security guards who, with their usual authoritative voices answered queries irreverently from anyone who would dare to ask anything. Brashness personified.
At the Rizal Monument, promenaders were now starting to trickle in, some looking for benches to sit on, others just content in taking their leisurely walks toward the seashore. June and i continued our run towards the grandstand, past the Museo Pambata on our way back to CCP. Past The Embassy again and along the promenade, we noticed fishermen hawking their catch from the bay of small Tilapia and what appeared to be large local tuna or ‘Tambakol’. If the waters here are polluted, aren’t the fish unfit for consumption? Just wondering…
Before reaching back to the Manila Yatch Club, we noticed the presence of rowers propelling their dragonhead boats and canoes with the head drummer barking to paddle in unison with his drum beats. It was a sight to behold.
Upon reaching CCP, we decided to call it a day and made our way back to the parking lot to do some cool down/stretching. I noticed that there were no less than eight (8) groups doing Aerobic workouts/dancing scattered around the CCP complex with members numbering from 6 up to 50 per group. There was a group leader who would approached their members with an inverted straw hat in their palm asking for P20.oo ‘donation’ for the aerobics teacher. The more their followers, the bigger the money collected.
The aerobics fitness buffs headed off to Tropical Hut after their session. June and i followed suit and enjoyed brewed coffee, breakfast and the ladies!