A New City, a New Metro Manila, a New Future

Manila Bulletin, July 25, 2012 | Go to article overview
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A New City, a New Metro Manila, a New Future


METRO Manila will always have a special place in our hearts and memories. That's one of the best reasons why we should continue the drive for urban renewal and restoration. I believe it is time to consider the construction of a new capital city where we can build a new future and a model city for the country and perhaps for Asia and the world. That new city can be a new symbol of hope, even as we face the myriad problems of rapid urbanization and blight in the present Metro Manila.

Countries That Moved Their Capitals

Other countries have long realized that building a new city augurs well for the future of their people. Below are some of the countries that moved their respective capital cities - Japan (in 1869), Brazil (in 1956), Pakistan (in 1960), Nigeria (in 1976), Malaysia (in 1993) and Kazakhstan (in 1997).

Tokyo (formerly known as Edo) became the capital of Japan in 1869 replacing Kyoto when the Emperor took up permanent residence there. The size of Edo's population, which was more than double that of Paris and London at the time, was augmented by the Tokugawa's system of requiring all underlings to spend a portion of each year in the city. Thus, their presence gave rise to artisans, craftsmen, and other townsfolk, and promoted many of the arts. Edo became the center of commerce even before it became the capital of Japan. The city was broken up into distinct trade districts - cobbler sections, tailor sections, and even fish sections that were kept completely separate from the fruit and vegetable areas. Today, Tokyo is considered the predominant economic center of East Asia, rivaled only by Hong Kong and Singapore.

Brasilia originated in a campaign promise made by presidential candidate Juscelino Kubitschek in 1956. He appealed to the Brazilians' dream of developing the resources in the interior of their nation. He proposed to build a new capital there, a new city that would demonstrate how Brazil would develop in the future, integrating the sprawling country into a modern industrial nation.

Thus, Brasilia (see photo at left) was built in just four years starting in 1957 in the central area of the country and has become a showcase of architectural innovation. Before its construction, the area resembled a desert-unpopulated, scarce water, few animals and plants.

Brasilia is Brazil's first planned city and also in effect a planned capital. President Juscelino Kubitschek, who became President in 1956, invited the best Brazilian architects to present projects for the new capital. Oscar Niemeyer, who is considered one of the world's most famous architects today, combined straight and rounded shapes to create innovative architectural masterpieces.

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