Advocating for environmental planning in the PH

The first half of the year has been a whirlwind of work on strengthening environmental planning in the country. Just thought I’d make a diary entry on all the events, which have been very educational and meaningful to me.

The academe

One of my advocacies is getting more and more students to take up urban studies. Through the PIEP’s collaboration with NCCA on ArkiCamp: Architecture and the Allied Arts, which brought the PIEP, UAP, and PIID to different universities, we were able to teach the basics of environmental planning to architecture students.

PIEP National and PIEP – Davao at the University of Mindanao, where EnP Mia Quimpo and I gave the talk on Planning 101. After the talk, we taught students community planning through an afternoon workshop.
We had very competitive students in Davao! Their outputs on public spaces were really good. ❤ See the slideshow below:

After Davao City, I went to Bacolod to join EnP Jocelyn Gongob of the Negros Oriental Chapter and teach at La Consolacion College leg of ArkiCamp.

I noticed how many students perceive planning as something that’s done on a blank slate, making existing cities a problem in how they view urbanization. Some also thought that capital-intensive, masterplanned cities are only for rich localities. A few Q&A points we had are:

  • No, we don’t need blank slates or tabula rasa to do planning. We plan where the people are, in existing cities. 
  • Conversion (from agriculture to other uses) reflects the values of our communities, our government, and our planners. 
  • Planning is not only for cities that are rich. There are simple ways to create innovative solutions. We can undertake placemaking and tap local knowledge for solutions that are more accessible to our citizens.
  • Planning is not just the built-up environment. Again, it’s about how people live, and how we shape our environments, both built-up and natural. The ideal is we integrate.
NCCA, the academic community of La Consolacion, PIEP, and other professional groups.

Outside of ArkiCamp, I also joined ArkiNet of the University of Santo Tomas, as a Pecha Kucha speaker during their Manila Architecture Festival. The archi students were really kind to tour me around their many exhibits. I also got to connect with my friend Brandon Ang, who came to the Pecha Kucha.

Onstage at the grounds, emphasizing how our perception of public spaces leads to how we shape our cities. Watch my presentation here. Start at 00:59:58.
Let me just insert this here. That’s Bran, in white. This was the ReColor Workshop for Yuchengco, Binondo, Manila. Bran organized the placemaking learning session for these high school students.

Closer to home was being a panelist for Mr. Benjamin de la Pena’s talk, the intriguingly titled Ultraelectromagnetic Urbanism: Talking Cities and Transportation. I learned so much about how values are translated into our environment, and how we should tackle transportation and mobility in our cities.

I had to travel fourteen hours by bus from Tuguegarao City to get to SURP for the talk, and it took me two paracetamol tablets to get going, but it was definitely worth the learning experience. It was also fun to reconnect with Julia Nebrija and Jedd Ugay, my co-panelists during the event.

Continuing Professional Education

CPE is required for licensed professionals here in the Philippines, and this year, I was able to deliver my second CPE learning session, thanks to PIEP Negros Oriental. EnP Joy Gongob invited me to their chapter, where I gave a talk on Public Spaces and How We Can Shape Them.

It was my first time to visit Dumaguete City, and their public spaces really amazed me. The Burgos Promenade is a closed street, which helps with pedestrianization, the Quezon Park was a thoroughly used open, green space, and the Rizal Boulevard was just one long stretch to walk or bike on. Walking around the small city prompted me to give a rapid analysis of their public spaces for my CPE session.

Board exam reviews

The reviews, the reviews.

These really took up most of my time these past months because of so much travel requirements, and speaking for a whole day is really tiring. 2019 also marks my fourth year teaching for the boards. But nevertheless, sharing one’s learnings and gathering perspective from aspiring planners give an incomparable feeling–there’s no better way to strengthen the advocacy of capacitation on environmental planning for our many localities.

I’m thankful to the PIEP for inviting me to do the lecture on development history, urban growth theories, urban history, planning concepts, and principles for different chapters. Aside from the fact that it’s my favorite subject, I also pushed for a collaboration between the Northern Luzon Chapter and UP Plano. Here are a few photos of the review series:

UP Plano, Ortigas
Northern Luzon – Baguio City
Despite the exhaustion from travel, this is what keeps me going. Messages like these are for keeps. ❤
Northern Luzon – La Union
With Ar-EnP Jun Rillera, the one-man team and president of the NL Chapter, EnP Cid Jacobo, EnP Rory Caguimbal, and Ar-EnP Ralph Sotoridona, my co-speakers and buddies from UP PLANO
Northern Luzon – Regional Review. I wasn’t able to track everyone who came, but the attendance count was between 100-120, from all these areas (which schooled me on geography): Abra, Apayao, Talugtug, Bangued, Santa Fe, Itogon, Tabuk, Alaminos, Aguinaldo, San Guillermo, Quezon, Tanudan, Baguio, Divilacan, Bontoc, Calintaan, Magalang, Urdaneta, Santa Rosa, Santiago, Bolinao, San Miguel, Burgos, San Fernando, Tagudin, Bayambang, Santiago, Porac, Talugtug, Pantabangan, Magsingal, Hermosa Bataan, San Isidro, Vigan, Nueva Ecija, Kamias, and Diffun Quirino. + Makati + Bulacan + Romblon who came all the way north
PIEP National review, at UAP HQ, Quezon City
PIEP Cebu, for the coaching session. Below are the hardworking, dedicated ladies of the Cebu Chapter, and then there’s the whole review group

Aside from PIEP and PLANO, I also got to teach for URBAN, the review group of EnP Justin Victor dela Cruz. Below was our session at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center.

URBAN review – AIM, Makati City
This heartwarming message was from last year. I met the sender during our National Conference in Iloilo (unfortunately, I had a severe headache and couldn’t chat more with him), but sir, your e-mail is something I revisit when I need inspiration. 🙂

Planning with women, planning with babies

The lighter part of advocating for better public spaces in cities and planning is when you get to do fun things, like these two events below.

The US Embassy Manila asked select US-PH exchange alumni to contribute to a youth leadership and mentoring video. I teamed up with my pro-fellow batchmate and BFF Yowee Gonzales to talk about women empowerment in urban planning and disaster resilience.

Behind the scenes of the shoot. I talked Jane Jacobs, Yowee talked Michelle Obama. 😉 We love our icons.

And who would imagine I’d relate placemaking with babies? Pampers invited me to talk about public spaces and placemaking for one of their promo events, where I discussed the benefits of galaw-friendly spaces. Yup, that’s mobility right there, women’s roles in cities (as moms), and how you connect urban planning with moms and babies. Some elements women planners should put on the table: Lighting for safety, clean public toilets, lactation stations, wide open spaces for toddlers’ motor skills development, and friendly environments. So much fun doing the research for this event.

Yup, the baby from the Pampers promo materials is real! And he’s too cute. =)


I actually prayed about being the Lord’s instrument and a better steward for the places we live in, so maybe this is how He answers–maybe that’s why I got through all of the work these past months. I’m thankful.

That’s it for now, and let’s see where the next half of the year brings me.

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