POSTSCRIPT / February 29, 2000 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Forbes’ rezoning isn’t about trees, but growth

IT was not fair for a polling group to have asked whom the respondents would vote for president (among President Estrada, Vice President Gloria Arroyo and Sen. Raul Roco, among others) if a snap election were called.There is no way under our Constitution that a snap election could be held. If the President resigns, dies or is incapacitated, the Vice President simply takes over without need for an election.Former President Marcos was able to hold snap polls in late 1985 when dared by the American press only because we were then under a dictatorship.

Also, under the Constitution, the President is limited to one six-year term. He is not running for president all over again.

With the incumbent no longer running, the respondents would naturally be disposed to pick Arroyo and Roco. Erap Estrada’s waning popularity may have influenced responses, but since the poll was not about popularity, it was unfair.

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BUT Erap Estrada must be aware that he is running another, a more important, race.

In fact, he’s running two simultaneous races: One, a race against time to deliver on his promises and more; and Two, a race to land in a niche in history that would show him in the best light.

For these two defining races, he has only a little more than four years.

With time running out, it amazes us that until now, he has not moved to redeem his oft-repeated vow of “walang kaibigan, walang kamag-anak…” (no friends, no relatives). Is it that difficult reining in one’s overreaching family members and friends?

He must look for a way to break the cycle before it breaks him: Corruption and cronyism pull him down. As he is pulled down and as time ticks away, corrupt relatives and cronies become more aggressive. And the more aggressive they become….

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NOT that it’s our business, but the residents of snooty Forbes Park cannot remain passive prisoners of archaic laws, or cling forever to development restrictions imposed 50 years ago and which have lapsed, or play blind to the changes popping around them.

From a rustic country lane bisecting Forbes Park, McKinley Road has grown into a major route traveled daily by some 30,000 vehicles. It is now the key connection between the commercial districts of Makati-Ayala and the emerging city in Fort Bonifacio.

Whether Forbes residents like it or not, the character of McKinley and its environs has changed and will continue to change.

The big question before the residents is: Should they sit by and allow helter-skelter change to swallow them, or should they be proactive and manage that change?

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MOST residents along McKinley and who are therefore directly affected have opted to grab the bull by the horns and manage the inevitable change.

Finally freed of deed restrictions that expired in 1998, they support a move in the Makati City council to rezone the McKinley area from residential to commercial, and thereby be open to a mixed-use (residential-commercial) development option.

McKinley is just one of several residential streets in Makati (e.g., Jupiter, Amorsolo, Arnaiz, Reposo) being reclassified to commercial, but for some reasons only McKinley has stoked a most spirited opposition.

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WE begin to understand this oddity if we recall that Ayala Land lost in its bid to buy and develop the sprawling Fort Bonifacio nearby, an emerging rival of the older Makati central business district (CBD) on both sides of Ayala Ave.

Widening McKinley will ease access to/through Bonifacio from the congested Makati CBD and thus boost values in the fort at the expense of Ayala.

A better-planned light commercial-residential mixed zone along McKinley might lure signature shops and prestige offices from their mall-like locations in Ayala.

A vibrant McKinley strip of live-upstairs-shop-downstairs establishments within walking distance of residents and visitors will show up the overzealous commercialization of Ayala.

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THE rezoning question is not about trees, as erroneously reported, since the proposed reclassification of Forbes and the widening of McKinley will not involve the cutting of any of the 50-year-old acacias lining the 1.6-kilometer road.

On the contrary, according to urban planner and environmentalist Felino A. Palafox Jr. who drew up the McKinley development plans, they will plant more trees.

The upgrading plan calls for the building of additional lanes (5- to 10-meter-wide) behind the trees on either side of the present road. The acacias will end up standing on the islands in the middle of the widened road.

To compensate for the reduction in the sizes of the roadside lots, the owners will be allowed to build as many as three to five floors under the proposed rezoning. The ground floors would be commercial and the upper floors residential, with ample open spaces fronting them.

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FORBES is an enclave where the old restrictions limited occupancy to four households per hectare (10,000 square meters).

Compare this light density with the 300 households/hectare allowed in Makati-Ayala and the 200 in Fort Bonifacio. Also consider that of the 600-plus lots in Forbes, around 400 are just being rented out by absentee owners.

The capacity of Makati-Ayala is being pushed to the limit as buildings are constructed one after the other even on previously green, open areas – depriving the already congested area of its lungs and elbowroom and further straining resources.

A better developed and managed McKinley mixed-use strip, if allowed to proceed, will call attention to Ayala’s continuing attempt to strangle itself.

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OUR story on somebody being injured by water taken out of a microwave oven suddenly splattering his face has alarmed some readers. A few said manufacturers should paste a warning on their micro-ovens.

A few asked how a microwave works and how come water heated in a micro-oven that looked harmless upon its removal from the oven could suddenly boil over and scald persons nearby.

To oversimplify the concept: A microwave gadget generates waves that bounce off the walls of the oven and disturb the molecules of the food item inside. The agitation is such that the rapidly moving particles heat up.

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FOR readers interested in technical details, we run this information shared by reader Glen N. Dizon explaining why the cup of water taken out of the microwave oven suddenly broke into a boil and splattered the son of Mrs. Abigail Tiu:

“Microwave ovens work by increasing the kinetic energy of molecules through rapidly changing electromagnetic fields. Water molecules are electric dipoles (i.e., they have a positive and negative end) and they are free to twist and move about, making them susceptible to influence by an electric field.

“Electromagnetic radiation is a combination of an electric field and a magnetic field arranged orthogonally (90 degrees) with each other and changing their direction and intensity (sinusoidally) at a rate dictated by their frequency and propagating outward from their source at the speed of light (in a vacuum).

“Water molecules exposed to microwave radiation would first twist one way and then another following the direction of the electric field which is changing rapidly. The water heats up.

“Substances whose molecules do not have a dipole moment and/or are not free to move within their confines are not affected by the microwave radiation. An empty dry glass inside a microwave oven will not heat up. It is its contact with heated water that eventually heats it up as well.

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“AS a cup of water in a microwave oven heats up, a temperature gradient develops. The water at the center of the cup ends up having a higher temperature than that at the perimeter.

“The reason is that the glass wall (which is not affected by the microwave radiation and therefore has a lower temperature) absorbs the heat of the water in contact with it.

“Heat flows by conduction from the center toward the glass wall. The rate at which the temperature of the water rises does not leave enough time for the temperature of the water and glass to equalize.

“In certain situations, therefore, the center of the cup of water may have a temperature of, say, 110 degrees Celsius (slightly above boiling point at one atmosphere) while the perimeter is still below boiling point. But even at 110 degrees, the water at the center will not boil.

“The reason is that the water at the center is not in contact with a surface (with irregularities) where bubbles can form. But try adding coffee to the cup and the water immediately boils over.

“When Mrs. Tiu’s son took the cup of water from the oven, the temperature of water near the glass wall was just approaching boiling point. After a slight delay, the heat from the center reached the wall, pushing the temperature to boiling point. The water in contact with the glass wall boiled immediately, creating flash steam. Apparently, his face was close enough to be injured.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 29, 2000)

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