Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Progressive Guangzhou by Night

Wow! Guangzhou is more progressive than Metro Manila!

This was the first thing that entered my mind seeing Guangzhou all lit up on our first night here at the capital of Guangdong Province. The most popular business city in China, this may be where our favorite noodle dish originated from. Guangzhou is known historically as Canton or Kwangchow.

Our group of government officials from MMDA, DPWH, DOTC, and cities of Metro Manila could not help but gawk at their giant animated LED billboards -- a far cry from what we have back home.

This is their more advanced version of our Ayala Avenue -- a brilliant and dazzling display of lights at night. Their avenues are much wider than ours with separate lanes for pedestrians and bikes on both sides. We even saw their bike patrols in pairs, with matching flashing lights of blue and red, making sure that everything was peaceful and in order on the sidewalks and bike lanes.

Walking these streets at night ... people are not bothered, or worried about being a crime statistic. Guangzhou is a very walkable city. Green all over. Quiet yet alive. Teeming with people from all walks of life -- walking, and walking, and still walking to wherever it is they are headed to for the night. No wonder it is rare to see obese people here.

Liuyun Xiaoqu Neighborhood. We visited this old housing project which was redeveloped in time for the 2010 Asian Games. They closed off the inner streets and made it accessible only to people and bikes. The place experienced a rebirth and it metamorphosed into a destination place frequented by locals and visitors. The change came naturally as the lower floors became commercial spaces and spawned boutiques, cafes, shops, etc.

The streets and open spaces are well lighted and have recreational and exercise contraptions that attract young and old alike.

These colorful, toy-like exercise hubs keep people busy and active -- burning fat as they while away their time.

Shophouses catering to every need attract people from afar especially those who simply want to shop, look around, eat, and stare into the eyes of a loved one. Those who live in the neighborhood do not have any reason to leave since everything is within reach downstairs. 

Pocket gardens, landscaped areas, trees all over. The breathing green canopy of Liuyun Xiaoqu provides its residents with a fresh and endless supply of oxygen 24/7. This lush greenery is better appreciated during the day when shafts of sunlight penetrate the treetops and illuminate the plants below.

A simple stroll along its walkways, bikeways and greenways is a well-deserved respite from the stress of fast-paced life making all senses and emotions slow down into quiet reflection.

This neighborhood of mid-rise residential buildings is now a better place to live in because of pedestrianization, greening, and redevelopment.

Now, if we can only do the same for our settlement areas here in Metro Manila.

Hopefully, our dream for a bike superhighway via the "Daang Bakal" Greenways (from San Mateo to Manggahan, Pasig) can be realized sooner because of this trip with those who can make our dreams come true.

Thank you, Rockefeller Foundation. Thank you, Ateneo School of Government.