Pasig River hailed 1st Asia Riverprize champion for reviving waterway

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The Pasig River rehabilitation project has been adjudged as the most noteworthy endeavor in Asia, earning the 1st Asia Riverprize, the world’s foremost award in river basin management.

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) received the recognition from the International RiverFoundation judge panel during the International Riversymposium Riverprize ceremonies held in Australia on October 16.

During the awards presentation, the Asia Riverprize judges were quoted to have said they were impressed by the scale of the problem and the scale of the response to the problem faced by Pasig River.

The story of Pasig River “that refuses to die and has come back to life” was presented to the Riversymposium participants before announcing the recognition for the Philippines.

“Critical to the success of this story is to bring the communities of about 18 thousand people to decent houses and transforming these communities and their lives into environmentally responsible citizens is an amazingly outstanding achievement,” said the Asiaprize panel chair of Pasig River’s feat.

The Pasig River is a 27-kilometer river which served as the main route for transport, trade and cultural exchange since the pre-colonial and Spanish era in the Philippines. It was declared biologically dead in the 1990s after decades of rapid urbanization and industrialization in Metro Manila.

The PRRC was established in 1999 to lead in the revival of the Pasig River and has since established projects for riverbanks development, solid waste management, water quality improvement and public awareness.

Earlier this year Pasig River was touted as the soon-to-be arts and culture hub of Metro Manila in a public awareness campaign conducted by the PRRC together with the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and various local governments. The creative campaign dubbed “Taga-Alog Ilog Pasig: Balik Tanaw, Balik Sigla!” presented various projects that build on stories surrounding the river and the communities that surround it.

The PRRC report to the Riversymposium noted the following improvements:

  • From 1999 to 2017, PRRC have resettled 18,719 families living along the riverbanks to decent homes
  • Dismantled 376 encroaching private structures
  • Established 37,471.68 linear meters of environmental preservation areas
  • Developed 17 of its 47 identified tributaries
  • Diverted almost 22,000 kilograms of solid waste
  • Communities around Pasig River now have more opportunities to have recreation and have developed pride and motivation to preserve and protect the river
  • More than a hundred species of fish, birds, trees, and aquatic resources can now be seen on the Pasig River
  • The Pasig River ferries have now again made the waterway a viable alternative transport in the metropolis

The Philippines’ Pasig River project competed against China’s Yangtze River in the finals of the 2018 edition of the Riverprize for Asia which was formerly called the Asia-Pacific Riverprize Awards – this year it was divided into two awards, one for Australasia and another for Asia.

PRRC social media announced the recognition given to the PRRC team led by its executive director Jose Antonio Goitia.

At the announcement of their finalist recognition in September, Goitia said the consecutive citations for the Pasig River as a finalist in the 2017 Thiess International and 2018 Asia Riverprize served to highlight the efforts of the Philippines to restore the river.

“Last year, the Philippines is the only third world and developing country that made it into the international finals and bravely competed with the US and the United Kingdom. In this year’s Asia Riverprize, we will be facing another super power – the red dragon, China. However, with an indomitable spirit, we remain steadfast and optimistic that we will stand triumphant in the end,” Goitia said in a PNA release announcing the Pasig River as finalist for the Asia Riverprize.

Pasig River as the winner of the 2018 Asia Riverprize will automatically qualify for Stage Two of the Thiess International Riverprize in 2019. The Pasig River Integrated River Basin Management will receive widespread global recognition which can build new partnerships, provide opportunities for exchange of knowledge and best practices, and open doors for international support.

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