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Saving The Marikina River, A Success Story

Winner, 1995 Galing Pook Award for Innovation and Excellence in Local Governance and Hall of Fame, Cleanest Inland Body of Water in the NCR.

In 1993, the city formally launched the program, Save the Marikina River, with the aim in view of rehabilitating and saving the river valley from extinction. It was anchored on the principle:

The people have to touch and smell the water. It is hoped that this experience and exposure will galvanize them to muster enough political pressure for the government and the rest to act and conserve the water. Mayor BF

The project was far from being ambitious in features. The city did not think of dredging or diking which it could not afford anyway. With only 40M spread over seven (7) years, including maintenance and with hardly no external assistance, the city was able to bring the river back to life and transform it into a sports and recreational park (probably the biggest in the country today in a natural setting).


marikina riverpark

A few years back, the river was filth and stench, a repository of all types of foul smelling and unsightly wastes. Only few dared to venture close to it and none wanted to a get a sniff of stinking waters pitched black with pollution spewed by factories and industries and domestic wastes wantonly thrown by the squatters lining the banks.

The deterioration of the river was brought by the uncontrolled encroachment and indiscriminate disposal of both domestic and industrial wastes and garbage in the easement of the river. It also suffered land degradation brought by the continuous quarrying on its beds and along the banks that resulted to scouring and erosion.

Resurrecting a dying river was only made possible through the bulldog tenacity of Mayor Bayani Fernando. Private assistance came in only when the river park was undergoing development. In the past, attempts have failed in removing thrash from the river and in flushing-out the squatters along the riverbanks. Many thought it would take a miracle to restore the lost grandeur of the Marikina River. It took a strong political will to finally carry out successfully the river rehabilitation that eventually gained the respect and admiration of the people. They have now taken themselves to task in preserving the gains of the project.


marikina gazebo

The advent of the restoration has buoyed-up the sagging morale of the people who had long endured the sorry state of the river. It has also erased the skepticism of the people on the competence of their government in successfully pursuing such an ambitious undertaking. It helped bring back the respect and confidence of people in government

Having such a unique sports, recreational and eco-tourism showcase and the attendant progress and development instills pride in Marikeños. It gives them a source of inspiration and conviviality to throw their full support to their government to get other things done. It has also helped improve the peace and order condition as it (riverpark) lures people, young and old alike, away from social ills that tend to arise from lack of wholesome outlets or better things to do.

marikina river

Saving Marikina River Project has earned Marikina various awards. Among the most hailed were the Gawad Galing Pook Award for Innovation and Excellence and Hall of Fame Award for the Cleanest Inland Body of Water in the NCR. The park has also been chosen once as the site for International Earth Day and an international football competition was also held in one of its parts.

Now that the river has shown vibrant and transformed into a mammoth sports and recreational park, an average of 3,000 to 5,000 people from all walks of life visit the river park daily. When there are special occasions, the number could go as high as 15,000. It has also become the traditional venue for Marikina Christmas Festival and all other city, organizations and family gatherings and events. Marikina River today is a favorite destination of Local Government Units (LGUs) from the different parts of the country as well as abroad conducting study tour (LAKBAY ARAL).


  • Topographical Background
  • Program Strategies
  • Accomplishments and Milestones

    Click to Read More Articles About Marikina

    (Thank you very much…)
    Public Information Office of Marikina (1992-2001)
    Ms. Julie M. Borje, former PIO Chief, Now CENTEX Training Director
    Mr. Jun Aguilar, Planning Officer
    River Park and Development Authority
    Photographers cited in the photos


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