Public Spaces in PH 101

Public spaces have been both a love and an irk in my advocacy for improving Philippine urban spaces. A love, because it embodies equity, distributive justice, and shared rights, and an irk, because many Filipinos disrespect the notion of what “public” means, and just about everything it embodies–because of a sense of entitlement–while so many areas in the rest of the world put public spaces on a pedestal. So this post is going to be a listing of how public spaces are mentioned in our Philippine laws, what the New Urban Agenda says about them, and how I think we should move forward on improving our spaces.

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Street art helps liven up blank walls and grey spaces. This wall art is in Kalibo, Aklan.

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Game Talk: SimCity BuildIt and Urban Management Lessons

So, SimCity BuildIt has been around since 2014, but I just recently started playing it (because my Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes crashed for a week due to an update), and I’ve been wanting to post some thoughts about the gameplay, because there are just so many urban planning lessons one can learn in playing the game.


When you play the game, you become the mayor of your own city. Mayors are, in essence, the urban managers of localities, so it’s up to you to decide on major urban issues: Your city framework (street patterns), locating buildings (this reflects zoning), and prioritizing investments (implementation using available budgets). Your Simoleons (citizens)  look up to you as a mayor.

People before buildings and cars — a very basic lesson in urban management.

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Lessons for the teacher: Reflections on environmental planning board review sessions

It’s my third year as an environmental planner, and second year as a lecturer for board review sessions. I’d like to look back on the learning sessions from cities and municipalities in the country, because while I have shared what I learned from SURP and my work, my students have also shared so much valuable knowledge with me also, especially on planning realities and implementation.

Teaching the Rationalized Planning System and HLURB guidelines in Davao City with participants coming from the greater Davao area, Surigao, and Cotabato, March 2018. This is my third lecture in Davao, with two sessions in 2017.

I usually give lectures according to the three subjects in the board exam: (1) theories, history and, concepts; (2) planning process, and (3) select laws. I love history the most, because whenever I read and talk about it, I imagine the growth of many places. I also challenge the groups to come up with urban models for Southeast Asia, because popular ones are always from Europe and America.

It’s amazing to converse with local planners because of so many different takes on the process and issues of urban planning. Every locality has its own strengths and weaknesses when we talk about capacities, while there are also a variety of responses when we go into understanding development issues and a the larger framework of planning. Talking points range as wide as required forestry tables on the HLURB guidelines, to ethics, to planning continuity, to benchmarking around the world.

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Urban Planning and Why It Matters


Got to publish another article on urban planning yesterday (thanks, Inquirer Property!). I’m glad to have helped in this small way to educate more about the profession. More importantly, planning is something drastically needed in the Philippines, because so many of our cities are suffering consequences of after-the-fact building and infrastructure implementation.

Click here to read the full article. 

Sharing all that Green Talk: A Meet-up of Environmental Bloggers

I recently had the privilege to attend a green bloggers meet-up that was hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. I’ll be sharing overviews of the presentations during the event, and, as always, link the importance to environmental planning.

The Blog Talk was held in celebration of biodiversity and wildlife protection and aimed to engage bloggers to further the campaign for environmental protection. It covered a range of topics: The Philippine commitment to the COP21 or the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign, and progress updates on the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The event also featured two environmental champions in the Philippines: veteran journalist Howie Severino, who shared tips on how to approach environmental storytelling, and award-winning singer-songwriter and activist Noel Cabangon, who serenaded the group with his music on climate change and disaster recovery.

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