When the Supreme Court issued a Mandamus on Manila Bay on 18 December 2016, which directed 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and
preserve the bay, including restoring and maintaining its waters to be fit for swimming, skin diving and other forms of recreation, everyone supposedly won from a cause favorable to the environment.
That legal victory became a public triumph based on the thousands of people who flocked to the baywalk area last Saturday to walk on the artificial sand laid there to revive a part of the beach where tons of trash always wash up after a storm. The inauguration of the area beside the United States Embassy by officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Manila City Hall, followed by its opening to the public, saw awed promenaders, vloggers, reporters and bureaucrats taking unlimited selfies until sunset.
If there are winners in the controversial project, there are also losers. They include critics of the government who earlier claimed that the dolomite sand used to recreate the beach is damaging to the bay and the cost of which should have been spent instead to feed the hungry at this time in the pandemic.
The biggest loser was P/Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan, commander of the Ermita police station, which has jurisdiction over Manila’s baywalk. He was relieved from his post by Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan for failing to enforce physical distancing on the crowd that gathered along Roxas Boulevard to enter the renovated shore.
Lt. Col. Alex Daniel, the Manila Police District’s chief comptroller, who replaced Caramoan, was not the biggest winner though even if he benefited from his colleague’s relief.
Neither are the dolomite miners in Cebu that supplied the artificial sand for the Manila Bay shore.
The real winner for the day was 46-year-old Renalyn Macato who jumped the gun on everyone else by being the first to be on Manila Bay beach wearing a red swimsuit last Sunday.
Macato’s daring photos taken by her friend are trending on social media, and the hands-down favorite among the many memes that were posted by netizens for the #ManilaBayChallenge.
Moreover, the mother-of-three won’t even be prosecuted or disqualified to run as the poster girl for the new Manila Bay, even if she was not wearing a mask at the time. Her shoot sans mask and face shield had the permission of authorities at the time, because it was a solo pictorial at a crowdless part of the beach.
There were netizens who were not pleased with the instant fame earned by Macato in her bikini, and she was even mocked by a grandmother from Las Piñas City. But she is unfazed from the cyberbullying and is enjoying the 39,000 shares of her photos.