Pasig, 22 October 2015 — During Urban October, UN-Habitat Philippines held a pilot walking tour through one of Metro Manila’s public spaces – the Rainforest Adventure Experience (RAVE) park. The walking tour aimed to gather insights into unique characteristics of local Filipino public spaces.
“Much of the literature about public space is foreign and there is little debate on the definition or shaping of public space in the Philippines,” said Nathaniel Von Einsiedel, a senior urban planning specialist and consultant for UN-Habitat.
“Other more renowned public spaces, such as Rizal Park, are operated by the national government and have largely been designed according to international or American ideals of open green spaces.”
Formerly known as Rainforest Park and located in Pasig City, RAVE park was selected for the first tour as it is the largest public space to be operated by a local government in Metro Manila. The park is distinctive because it combines traditional open access areas with user-pay attractions, including a waterpark, adventure park, and zoo.
Local residents are offered discounted rates to the low-priced activities and the park’s education programme is widely utilised by schools in Pasig and beyond. It has recently added a fitness centre for local residents, offering affordable access to gym equipment and exercise classes.
“Pasig residents and visitors certainly appreciate the attractions, and are willing to pay the low prices. It is therefore meeting a community demand for entertainment services and it is commendable that these are delivered within a green public space,” added Von Einsiedel.
“Although RAVE park is very popular, it could be modified to be more inclusive and accessible, particularly for families from the surrounding informal settlements. It is nevertheless an interesting and unique location to inform discussions on Filipino specific achievements in public space usage.”
Given the challenges facing local governments – from affordable housing, waste management, traffic, and lack of land – the provision of green spaces and parks (or entertainment services) is often a low priority. Streets and public spaces are regularly overlooked and undervalued, although they are increasingly being considered the backbone of cities.
This is because well-designed and well-managed public spaces and streets increase property values, multiply retail activity, improve health and well-being, protect the environment, make the city more attractive, and allow more effective and efficient transportation and mobility.
During Urban October, UN-Habitat promoted the importance of urban public spaces for all and created a crowd-sourced digital campaign for better public spaces in the Philippines. The first walking tour included representatives from the media. On the success of the pilot, UN-Habitat is planning additional walking tours to examine other uniquely Filipino public spaces.
To find out more about RAVE Park, visit rave.pasigcity.gov.ph
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