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By Kristofer Purnell
Images by Noel Pabalate

I n just a few days the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will begin, and the Philippines is more than prepared to boast the facilities and establishments they have been working on the past two years since it became official that the country would be hosting the SEA Games for the first time since 2005.

With the supervision of architect Royal Pineda, New Clark City is now home to a 20,000-seater Athletics Stadium and a FINA-approved Aquatics Center, each of that will host particular events of the SEA Games and then become a training spot for our local athletes.

But New Clark City is not limiting itself to simply be a home to brand new sports facilities. It is envisioned to be a fullfledged city away from the metropolis where people can live and work—as a matter of fact, office buildings are already being leased out to interested companies, government satellite offices will soon begin their move up north, and it’s only a matter of time before residential areas will pop up (apart from the alreadyconstructed Athletes Village).

LEAVES OF DIFFERENT SHAPES Along the pathway through the River Park, visitors can enjoy various art installations

LEAVES OF DIFFERENT SHAPES Along the pathway through the River Park, visitors can enjoy various art installations

Also among these is the creation of River Park, 4.5-hectare space that has a 1.4-km pathway for jogging and biking, open amphitheaters, and designated areas for exercise—not to mention a breathtaking view of the Zambales mountain range.

Vince Dizon, president of Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) who is overseeing the construction of New Clark City, shares with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that there is a “desperate need for more parks,” pointing out that there are only a few parks in Metro Manila, some of which are exclusive and not open to the public. This vision is what propelled the River Park to be the first area to be completed in the brand new city, even ahead of the Athletics Stadium.

New Clark City’s River Park is made even more special because of the involvement of several local artists who have created and will create a series of installations for the park. Dizon refers to the importance of artists, thus having public art installations to promote the arts.

SHADES OF WEAVES Rattan gazebo installations by Kenneth Cobonpue

SHADES OF WEAVES Rattan gazebo installations by Kenneth Cobonpue

Already standing are a couple of gazebos designed by Kenneth Cobonpue, easily recognizable because of the artist’s rattan weaving style. Dizon shares the gazebos are weatherproof, meant to be a sort of resting area for families spending time in the park. Also at the River Park is the first of five wooden dome playgrounds constructed by Bernie Pacquing, which are made out of recycled wood and car parts.

In the process of landscaping at the moment is a sculpture by Jude Teotico paying tribute to Filipino swimmers, and soon to arrive is a river tribute by Bea Valdes. Dizon explains these particular artists were selected because BCDA had worked with them before, but says that they “want more local artists [to pitch in], and have public installations throughout the city.”

There is now the issue of maintenance, particularly post-SEA Games when New Clark City becomes a fullfledged operating city. Dizon ends by suggesting operations be privatized, not just for the River Park but even for the sports facilities—this way, he says, everything will be “kept well and maintained.”

Source: Manila Bulletin

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