I WRITE this at 2:34 a.m. on October 14, Wednesday.
I am awake and writing this column at this insane hour because the Amaia Skies construction of Ayala Land down the street from where I live is again on a 24-hour building rampage, keeping us awake, disturbing our hours for sleep, and impinging upon our rights to some peace and quiet.
This 24-hour noise barrage has been going on for the past month or so, with some nights worse than others. Tonight is really bad.
Once again, citizens suffer in the name of development over in this tiny residential patch of Mandaluyong.
And I actually live in the same barangay as the mayor.
In the beginning
In October of last year, I actually said that Ayala Land had handled its construction of this condominium complex in an old sleepy residential area quite well: they went door-to-door asking about our concerns before they started construction.
“The street perpendicular to us, and which exits to Shaw Boulevard is an Amaia Development that had the sense to go to us before they started construction, informing us about working hours and asking us about our concerns. They have, of course, caused more traffic on our tiny road than they care to admit, with trucks and cement mixers parking where they shouldn’t. I have gone out in my pambahay once or twice in the middle of the night because of their noise, for in the evening when all should be quiet construction noise can only be deafening.” (8 Oct 2014)
We had not been bothered much by noise from Amaia since I wrote that column. Of course the development has since taken over the sidewalks on Samat Street – which sacrifices pedestrian safety for, well, the Ayalas. Traffic has also gotten worse – though that is not just Amaia and the traffic its construction vehicles cause, but also the fault of the swift development of Shaw Boulevard.
Ah, but the past month or so, the Amaia construction and the Ayalas who own it have not cared at all about the residents in this neighborhood. As I write this, they are hammering away, cement trucks (or whatever construction machines) are churning, all heard from this room I’ve had for the past 25 years. Let me not even begin about the honking of horns that happens throughout the day, and which when it happens in the late evenings and early mornings will wake you up with a jolt.
If you are able to sleep through the noise at all.
This can’t be good for anyone’s health.
Very recently I had filed a complaint with the Mandaluyong City Hall regarding a bar at the rooftop of a building opposite the Amaia construction. That bar was having poetry nights and videoke, and in the quiet of our weekends at home, you can really only take so much of Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses” and Teeth’s “Laklak.”
The City Hall handled it swiftly, doing an inspection and finding the bar in violation of ordinances other than the noise level that should be so many decibels only, and should not happen beyond 10:00 p.m. It seems the bar is open again. We don’t hear their gigs anymore, and we are relieved.
But now there is the noise from Ayala Land’s Amaia, and one knows for a fact that this can only be so many decibels higher than those drunk videoke sessions. This is construction noise on overdrive, because it is not drowned out by the noise of the daily hustle of traffic and commerce on Shaw Boulevard. This is 24 hours of hammering and steel-on-steel noise, trucks moving in and out, horns honking.
A reminder: The Philippine Environmental Code of 1977 states the need to “set a limit on the acceptable level of noise emitted from a given equipment for the protection of public health and welfare, considering among others, the magnitude and condition of use, the degree of noise reduction achievable through the application of best available technology and the cost of compliance.” It also asserts the need to establish “appropriate standards for community noise levels considering <…> location, zoning and land use classification.”
The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 includes noise in its list of emissions which are “any air contaminant, pollutant, gas stream or unwanted sound from a known source which is passed into the atmosphere.”
It is now 3:31 a.m. Amaia Skies is hammering away.
Green Building daw o!
It is hilarious that when you search for Mandaluyong City ordinances on noise pollution, what you run into is a PDF file (and lots of news stories) on the city’s 2014 “Green Building Regulation.” This details how Mandaluyong is imposing a set of rules and regulation for constructing green buildings in the city. That is, buildings that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
And yet as they build these environmentally sound buildings, they do not consider how much suffering the neighborhood goes through. How our narrow residential streets are at the mercy of trucks and equipment, how our days are filled with the noise and air pollution from these construction sites. And with Ayala Land’s Amaia Skies, how we are having sleepless nights because they are now on 24-hour construction mode.
There is no justice in a city – in a country! – that will value developments like this without worrying about what it will do to the neighborhood. At the very least we all should have the right to peace and quiet in the late evenings and early mornings, in our own homes, without the hustle and bustle of an Ayala Land trying to rush a condominium into completion.
Certainly there is no justice in the fact that as I write this, they are hammering away down the street like it’s just another normal day.
It is now 4:35 a.m.