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A sprawling 44.8-hectare green and sustainable open recreational space inspired by global best practices and Philippine heritage will rise at the heart of New Clark City in Tarlac. Upon completion, the New Clark City Central Park will become one of the largest public parks to be built in the country in half a century since the completion of Rizal Park in Manila.

New Clark City is among the pilot areas of the Global Future Cities (GFC) Programme of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), an ODA technical assistance programme that supports sustainable and inclusive urban development in 10 countries and 19 cities across the world. The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in September 2020 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the British Embassy Manila for the design of NCC Central Park, as well as an affordable housing project in the new metropolis. 

A symbolic marker was unveiled on Friday, July 23, at New Clark City by BCDA and the British Embassy Manila to ceremonially lay the foundation of the central park. This activity followed a series of consultations with universities, locators in Clark, business and commercial groups, sports and tourism organizations, and partner government agencies for its development. 

“The New Clark City Central Park will be a great example of how we can use our land and water resources more sustainably to foster biodiversity, of how we can allocate green spaces to connect people with the environment and through that, to promote greater health and personal well-being,” UK Ambassador Daniel Pruce said.

For his part, BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon said, “New Clark City is founded on the vision of becoming the first green, sustainable, and resilient city in the country, modelling from the successes of cities all over the world, especially those in the United Kingdom. We are so fortunate that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office decided to choose New Clark City as one of its models, to assist in this once-in-a-lifetime greenfield development.” 

The vision for NCC Central Park is a space that is one with nature, complete with a floating lakeside stage, pedestrian bridge, retention pond, multipurpose lawns, meditation alcoves, a calisthenics or outdoor gym, sunset plaza and rain gardens.

Sustainable, inclusive, resilient

Although it will be built inside New Clark City, the impact of Central Park will be of regional and national significance. Given its size and scale, UK FCDO believes that the park can become a model for the planning of future spaces across the Philippines. 


“New Clark City Central Park will demonstrate and pioneer the value of quality design and planning by showcasing a model of green, inclusive, safe and accessible public space that could be replicated in other cities in the country. This is especially pertinent in the context of the Philippines where public space is generally not adequately provided and protected,” UK FCDO said. “It will be an inclusive ‘people park’ that will be accessible to different kinds of users placing emphasis on universal access, connectivity and mobility.”


The park will draw inspiration from diverse international best practices like London’s Queen Elizabeth Park, but will also maintain its unique character by reflecting the local culture and heritage to serve the contemporary needs and future aspirations of Filipinos. 


Aligned with the updated New Clark City masterplan, the park will be connected to surrounding neighborhoods and communities through a wider network of pedestrian and cycle paths, as well as interconnected modes of public transportation. It will be linked to existing and future transport infrastructure in New Clark City such as the Clark International Airport and the upcoming Clark-Malolos Commuter Rail extension.


The project proponents believe that the most important characteristic of the Central Park is its sustainable and climate-responsive design that considers among others, the topography, microclimates, biodiversity conservation areas, water resources and drainage networks in New Clark City in order to reduce urban environmental risks and achieve long-term resilience. 


The park’s lake feature, which will function both as a water retention pond to help in flood mitigation and water resources management, as well as an ecologically managed wet biotope to help in the preservation of important ecological areas and natural habitat.


The New Clark City Central Park will also adopt a tree conservation strategy, based on classifications set by the Asian Development Bank, which provides that all native, indigenous species that contribute to the character of the region will be protected. There will also be a “no-cut policy” for all threatened tree species, as well as those that are of emergent forest nature and character. Conserving the existing native ecologies, the park can act as a carbon sink by absorbing pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it into oxygen, and providing cleaner air to surrounding communities.


Based on an indicative timeline, the construction of the New Clark City Central Park will be divided into four phases. BCDA and UK FCDO aim to start the construction by 2023 and complete it in 2035.


As part of its GFC programme, the UK FCDO and BCDA are set to finalize the designs and full feasibility studies for the Central Park within 2021. Aside from the Central Park, the two parties will also design a pilot 33.89-hectare affordable housing project in New Clark City, and will review the existing housing strategy within the Clark Special Economic Freeport Zone and New Clark City.


Under the MOU, the UK FCDO and BCDA will also set up a sustainability unit for New Clark City and facilitate development of activities on urban planning, disaster resilience, urban design, landscape architecture, and sustainable development goals.



Swimmers and coaches from the Israel national team lauded the New Clark City Aquatics Center, citing world-class facilities and exceptional swimming pools that are instrumental in their preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The 17-member team from the Israel Swimming Association began their preparations for the upcoming competition using facilities at the internationally certified swimming arena last Saturday.

This is the first time that the Aquatics Center is hosting an event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the country and the enforcement of community lockdowns.

“I travelled all around the world and saw thousands of aquatic complexes. New Clark City’s facility is among the best in the world!” said David Marsh, former US Olympic swimming coach and professional adviser of the Israeli team.

Swimmers from the Israeli team were likewise impressed with the world-class swimming center in Tarlac.

“It’s a really nice pool with really nice surrounding views. And the bright color of the pool makes it look even better. More importantly, I like how the pool is really fast. Thank you for having us here!” said Andrea Murez, 29-year-old swimmer for the 100-meter Freestyle. 

Itay Goldfaden, 25-year-old representative for the 4×100-meter Mixed Medley Relay, said, “It’s one of the best pools I’ve ever seen. Good view, good weather. It’s definitely high quality. I would like to come here again someday.”

“Just really amazing facilities. I’m enjoying my time over here,” added Ron Polonsky, 20-year-old swimmer for the 200-meter Individual Medley.

The Israeli swimming team’s pre-Olympic training camp in New Clark City is hosted by BCDA, its subsidiary Clark Development Corp. (CDC), and Philippine Swimming Inc., the country’s governing body for aquatic sports. 

More than sports

BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon, also the deputy chief implementer of the country’s pandemic response, said the event will not only boost the Filipinos’ confidence in New Clark City’s world-class facilities, but also “showcase the capability of the country to recover from the pandemic.”

“We are thrilled yet humbled at the same time to host our friends from Israel in New Clark City’s first-ever sports bubble. Israel is one of the leading countries in the world for COVID-19 vaccination and response. So, for their athletes, coaches and officials to have the confidence to train in our country and at the Aquatics Center – that is truly a blessing,” Dizon said during a visit Thursday to the swimming facility.

Joining Dizon at the visit was Nir Balzam, Chargé d’Affaires of the Israel Embassy in the Philippines. Training was observed from a safe distance that did not compromise the integrity of the training bubble.

“We’d like to extend our thanks to Sec. Vince, BCDA, and the Philippine government for being a true friend of Israel and also for hosting our swimmers. Having them here, training in this bubble setting where they can train freely, get acclimated to the region and the time zone, we really appreciate it,” Balzam said.

Olympic training

With a total seating capacity of 2,000, New Clark City Aquatics Center has a 10-lane competition pool, eight-lane training pool and a diving pool. It is the only Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA)-accredited swimming facility in the country. 

“Since Tokyo and the Philippines have similar time zones (only one hour difference), the Israel team wanted to adjust as early as possible in preparation for the Olympics. Furthermore, the availability of world-class facilities made coming here more attractive,” said PSI President Lani Velasco. 

For his part, Amir Tito, CEO of the Israel Swimming Association, said, “We would like to thank the PSI and their president, Lani Velasco, and all the organizers who made this camp possible. We were looking forward to a place with a similar time zone with Japan, and in a very tight schedule due to COVID-19, the Philippines showed the most interest and warm welcome than anyone else. The team has never been to the Philippines and are very excited to be there!”

BCDA, in partnership with CDC, already has a growing track record of hosting sports bubbles with the completion of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup last year, the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in June, and the more recent PhilCycling National Trials for Road last July 10 and 11 with over 100 cyclists participating. All of these events were staged at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.