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Is it “Commonwealth” or “Commondeath” Avenue?

May 2011


There is an excellent article appearing today in the Philippine Star written by Arch. Paulo Alcazaren aptly titled “‘Commondeath’ Avenue.” I stumbled on when it was shared by a friend, Dr. Dayo Montalbo, who is a faculty member of the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning. It provides a rare insight into the history of our highways and streets in Metro Manila. It is required reading for planners and engineers with backgrounds in civil engineering, architecture, urban planning, etc., and, I must say, for anyone who can appreciate history and how we seem to not have learned (or refused to learn) from it. It certainly should be required reading for students who want to become future planners and engineers.

When the MMDA “discovered” plans where it was indicated how wide the RROW for Commonwealth should be and started acquiring land left and right from those who were supposed to have been encroaching on the avenue, including UP Diliman, it apparently didn’t study the old plans and the context by which the capitol, Commonwealth, UP and other institutions where laid out back in the day. That interpretation translated into what we see now as probably the widest highway in the country.

I see the article as something that can be used by the DPWH and the MMDA as an input to whatever planning or engineering they plan along Commonwealth. The avenue is just too wide and definitely not friendly to people. Perhaps it should be transformed into the parkway it was meant to be in the first place.

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