Project to showcase country’s cultural heritage
Source:  Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Tourism (DoT) plans to offer for potential public-private partnership (PPP) a master-planned redevelopment of the five-hectare “Walled City” of Intramuros, the oldest district in the Philippine capital of Manila built during the Spanish colonial period.

In a roundtable forum with the Inquirer business staff, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said Intramuros would be spruced up to better showcase the country’s cultural heritage. The DoT also plans to attract retail businesses over the next two years and to redevelop some areas into a mixed-use commercial and residential hub over a five-year period using financial muscle from the private sector.

Lim said a feasibility study would be undertaken soon and the government might bid out the Intramuros redevelopment project under the PPP framework by early 2012.

The DOT is making a timely move to draw in a private sector participation for this major project given the huge interest among the country’s biggest property developers like Ayala Land, SM of taipan Henry Sy, JG Summit of the Gokongweis and Alliance Global of tycoon Andrew Tan on tourism-oriented real estate.

As part of the redevelopment, Lim said Intramuros’ Maestranza Wall, used as a shipping warehouse during the Spanish occupation, would be fixed using a P250-million grant from Japan’s official development assistance arm Japan International Cooperation Agency. This stretch of wall lies near the mouth of Pasig river on its southern bank.

“We will make it look like what they have as store fronts in Clarke Quay,” Lim said, referring to a historic riverside quay in Singapore that now houses a bustling pedestrian retail row.

The redevelopment shall also include the rebuilding of the San Ignacio Church, which is currently in ruins. “It will become the Museum of Intramuros, where we will put the Ecclessiastical art collected by Jimmy Laya (governor of the Marcos-era central bank).

This refers to art produced during an era in the Middle Ages in which the influence of the Church was practically paramount.