It is sad to see the Anda Rotonda go. Here was a magnificent circle with enough open space to be a park, looking green under the sun, emerald in the rain, existing in the midst of traffic and congestion to show a better way of doing things. It was a welcome sight and a glimpse of felicity like open space, greenery and a legacy to be cherished and remembered. For the monument to Anda, who stood up to the British who came to these shores in illwill to plunder, a precious legacy was the norm of the times. And now the rotonda will be broken into pieces replaced by traffic lights for four streets or maybe just two. And the monument will be transferred to some obscure part of Intramuros, out of sight mostly. Is this the future we will face? Will the Quezon Memorial be undone, will Remedios Circle be reconfigured to smaller pieces, more concrete, diminished space? How mundane, banal and unimaginative. And ineffective for traffic and perilous for any monument as historical legacy that is there.
If this is a DPWH idea, it is a misbegotten one. Rotondas are traffic regulators with more amplitude for different directions than traffic lights. This means you are not curtailed to four directions but can have more – six, eight, etc. Washington DC has the Du Pont Circle which has proven its worth through time. London has the Piccadilly Circus (circus is another term for rotonda). Madrid has a distinctive number all over the inner city i.e. Cibeles, etc. Rotondas are used to access one’s chosen street in flowing traffic. Everyone slows down when entering a rotonda and maneuvers toward where he will get off. It is orderly, continuous and not time-consuming unlike waiting out traffic lights.
Manila has been losing its roundabouts or rotondas over the years. The one that had the Carriedo Fountain in the middle which used to be in Sta. Mesa or Magsaysay Boulevard was exiled to the National Water and Sewerage Agency (NAWASA) office in Quezon city, out of place and out of mind. It effectively undid the rotonda in the area. Has the traffic improved in Sta. Mesa (despite flyovers instead of rotondas?), not really. Traffic lights have not helped, there is always a waiting time instead of a continuous flow. Meanwhile the result of this precipitate move in Sta. Mesa is that of obscuring the legacy of Carriedo who donated the first waterworks for Manila and is now forgotten and unhonored by a city with no feeling for the past, thanks to present clueless administrators.
I grieve for the Anda Monument which like a Lego toy to a child is allowed to be dismantled, moved aside and, well, forgotten. It deserves better. It is a tall monument and I worry how it will be moved and by whose expertise and concern. I do not see these essentials with the way we treat the past or what is left of the past to us. It seems to hold no value from the indifference if not vandalism that prevails. On our watch we are seeing its dismantling in unacceptable ways. First we neglect our tangible legacy, then we pronounce it damaged, obsolete and meaningless which then forms the basis for finally doing away with it.
Can someone ever explain why we lost the Jai Alai building in executioner-style fashion? Can someone justify the demolition of the wall with the Monti sculptures from the pre-war Meralco building? What about the exchange of old monuments for new as in Plaza Roma in the past? What about the criminal neglect of the Metropolitan Theatre, now derelict, soon a ruin? For the majority, particularly those in charge, new is always better, old is obsolete, almost embarrassing. No wonder we have less and less grace in our public lives from our dismissive, heartless and ingrate attitudes towards the past.
Sorry, but getting rid of rotondas is not even modern or effective. Watch what port congestion will do to the unrotonda that takes the place of the Anda Monument site. The European Union which has embarked and accomplished the modernization of highways throughout its member countries uses rotondas as a standard for regulating traffic and it works very well. Rotondas indicate the use of skill and discipline, maybe that is what we cannot come up with. We have horror vacui, amnesia, inattention, ignorance and a destructive streak. Therefore, away with rotondas.
In the case of the condemnation of the Anda Monument and rotonda as a solution to the Port Area traffic problem, it will be one that will not hold.