3 Jun 2011

Espana Boulevard Circa 2011

  • 3 Jun 2011
  • Lagalag

  • For years, Espana Boulevard has been an image of a city of denial. Denial that this main thoroughfare in the old district of Sampaloc is unsafe, deteriorating, hard to drive at night, no street lights and the bulwark of different kinds of bad elements. I remember early last year. I was driving past 10 pm on the way home. Espana Boulevard was not lighted that time, a man suddenly appeared in front of me running while crossing the road. I was shocked and the sudden step on the break almost smash my face on the wheel.

    There were times, we're afraid of riding jeepneys that pass by along Espana, because 'robbery hold up' usually took place in the area near PNR railroad crossing. Robbers ran towards the slum area after robbing passengers at gunpoint. That was the main reason I developed a habit of riding a jeep at night in front of the passenger vehicle.

    That was then. Espana of today is the exact opposite of the Espana of yesteryears. I was surprised to see the whole stretch of one of the oldest roads in the metropolis. It's been a while before I took this route again after getting used to taking the route of Ayala Boulevard-Magsaysay-Araneta Avenue and sometimes Recto-Legarda-Magsaysay-Araneta. I hate traffic.

    But last Wednesday, I decided to give it a try. At around 9:45 pm I passed through Quezon Underpass and turned right onto Lerma until I got to the west end of Espana. As soon as I approached Lerma and Espana junction, I got to see a change that I thought very peculiar for a district like Sampaloc. As we know, areas from Sampaloc to Mabuhay Rotunda were very outdated and no amount of attention from authorities seemed to modernize it. But what I saw while on red signal is a sign of a very auspicious undertaking for the local government of Manila and a beautiful sight to behold for motorists and commuters. Lights. Very shining lights in the center island and in both sides of the old boulevard. But the lights are not your ordinary lights of any city streets. These ones are much like of those in the parkways. The railing of the center island is very noticeable, too.

    The traffic lights turned green and I drove on, turning left on my subject street - Espana. And... WOW! I was ecstatic. Truly, a magnificent work of architectural engineering and landscaping. Espana Boulevard transformed! Now this is what a boulevard should look like.

    What struck me the most?

    First off, the road widened and elevated. Unlike before, the whole stretch of this street was so narrow and somewhat immersed in the ground. I still remember the steps along the both sides of the road from Lerma to UST and even beyond Lacson Avenue. If you gotten off an automobile for example in front of UST, you needed to climb the steps to get to the sidewalk. Today, it's like a parkway where you can get in a vehicle from the sidewalk in a very convenient way.

    Second, the entire center island has been changed beautifully to blend with the aesthetically designed lamp posts. The old barriers has been changed with ergo designed railings. I think, too much attention has been given to materials, style and costs of the entire center island rehabilitation.

    Third, ultimately, the parts of the boulevard that compliment the lightings in the center island are the opposite sides of the boulevard which are now dotted with promenade lightings. Brighter than its counterparts in the middle of the boulevard.

    I could still imaginge, prior to this rehabilitation, both sides of Espana are dark and eerie at night. One word to describe it is 'ugly'. Now, it's totally different. You couldn't help but feel relaxed when driving in the middle of this highly evolved boulevard in the off peak hour of the night when there are less traffic. With those very bright aesthetically designed lights come passing to your both sides, your stress will be lessen, that's for sure. I just wish the Espana Boulevard that I see while driving go beyond Welcome Rotunda and stretch up to Quezon Avenue and Timog. But the beautiful night sight on the road only lasts up to Welcome Rotunda. Needless to say, this is an amazing change.

    Another major change that caught my attention is the lighted 'BABAAN AT SAKAYAN' stations located in strategic areas along the new Espana Boulevard. Each 'BABAAN AT SAKAYAN' or Loading and Unloading in English, is a complete package with the waiting shed full of lights to drive away robbers, holdapers and snatchers. An advertisement full of neon lights above the roof of each waiting shed is very eye-catching.

    And the most amazing part of the image change of the whole Espana Boulevard that capped it all is the construction of plant boxes on both sides of the road. Now landscaped, Espana can now be considered boulevard in the real sense of the word. This is what I mean when we say living up to your name.

    Sad to say, this post about Espana Boulevard transformation might soon become a diary of once famed street. In our metropolis, all improvements don't stand the test of times. Its inhabitants always play the lead role of the culprit in havocking the environment - both man-made and God-given. As what happened to the railings in the center islands in front of the Metropolitan Theater which by now are broken and with large parts missing, slowly part by part, piece by piece, the integral body of this boulevard will be eaten by those this project is built for.

    It is saddening to know that some of the inhabitants of this city always think on how much money would earn for them a kilo of an iron or light fitting they forcibly stripped and detached from a roadway. After all, in a third world country stomach comes first before the surroundings. In this regard, I sincerely wish there were agencies of National Government with the only task of looking after these projects for the Filipino people. After all, these are people's money which constructed them. Anyway, I am sure the maintenance and longevity of this amazing project will be taken care of the present administration of the city of Manila. The question is... Who will do the job after the term of the current Mayor - horable Mayor Alfredo Lim? Well, look what happened to the railings of Quezon Boulevard in front of Metropolitan Theater.

    I also wish local authorities who built this project can also provide some measures to safeguard long term existence of this very well thought and masterfully designed project. Even this early, we could see signs of things to come that await this project. Vandalisms are already visible in some waiting sheds like this one in this photo.

    Whatever happens, this boulevard will go down in the history of city planning as one of the most if not the most improved roadways in Metro Manila of 2011.


    1. => hala. dati dumaraan ako rito at naglalakad. buti nagimprove na xa and dapat lang mag-improve kasi Manila mirrors the prosperity of the whole Philippines

    2. Sakto ang sinabi mo, Maynila ang reference point ng mga dayuhan at ating mga kababayan sa pagpunta sa Kalakhang Maynila. Kaya natutuwa din ako sa malaking pagbabago sa Espana Blvd. Sana ma-maintain nila ng tuloy-tuloy.

    3. Nice nice nice. At least now we know that not all people's money goes into somebody's pocket. They still share some money for grandiose improvement of the famous Espana Bloulevard.

    4. If we see more tangible undertakings like these, we would be more positive in our perception toward our leaders' governance.

    5. Quits lang. Gumanda nga ang Espana, yung Taf Avenue naman this time ang naging baboy at dugyot

    6. @ amteurprocrastin8r. It's a common thing in Manila. Like today, this project has already started to deteriorate. Shades are now dilapidated and shabby. They abandoned maintenance, scores of railings are gone and parts cut off.