The Placemade Diaries: Observing the San Roque Elementary School Park

One of Placemade‘s pilot projects is to work on the Elementary School Park and waiting area. This was suggested by the Marikina City Government and supported by Barangay San Roque.

This urban diary will contain my observation notes, photos, and videos of the area, when I visited last Aug. 16, 2018.

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About Placemade

I’m really glad to share that after my YSEALI Professional Fellowship, I was able to launch my impact challenge called Placemade, which aims to recreate urban public spaces to be better and greener through citizen-led initiatives.

Since it started in July 2018, I’ve been working on partnerships with the local governments of Marikina City (my hometown) and securing a grant from the US Embassy Manila to jumpstart the project (and Placemade, thankfully, was awarded in the Small Grants Competition-Luzon).

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There are cities; then there’s New York

Talk about dreams turned into reality—I’ve always wanted to visit New York City. Of course, Times Square, Central Park, and 5th Avenue are the biggest go-to’s for any tourist, but for urbanists, I guess there would be a natural pull because of the history and the evolution of the city. I mean, you would read about the city from its time as New Amsterdam to the financial might and power that built its pedestal economy—Rockefeller, JP Morgan, and all that—there’s the brilliance of Janette Sadik-Khan, and, well, there’s Jane Jacobs’ influence on the city (particularly her fierce battles on the public arena), and that’s pretty much what iconic really is for me.

I only had roughly two and a half days to go around the city, so I had to choose my destinations and streets well, pray that my legs and feet wouldn’t give way, and that my brain would do its best to become a sponge and absorb everything I could observe. This post will show how I planned my visit to make the touristy experience become more exciting for urban professionals. There are a lot of photos and videos, from Central Park to Jane Jacob’s house at Hudson Street, and my thoughts about the city here and there.

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#SharethatSpace: Collective Thoughts on Urban Planning with Jean Palma

I gave this talk about two years ago, when I was just beginning to understand shared spaces. It’s heartwarming to read the reception on what I said (and the writer got this right), and it’s a realisation how smaller, more meaningful conversations can lead to better appreciation on the urban setting.

Tanglaw University Center


Jean Palma, urban planner (or environmental planner, if you want to be specific) and environmentalist, joined us for a get-together which she herself entitled “Collective Thoughts on Urban Planning” on Saturday, November 26, 2016.

  The get-together took the form of a workshop at the beginning, in which she asked the participants to draw maps of the Philippines and Metro Manila on pieces of paper, marking important roads and landscapes. It was an eye-opening experience – it helped us take a long, hard look at what we knew of the places they move around in, and what we do as citizens of our respective barangays, cities, provinces, and of course, the nation as a whole.

          We learned that urban planning, very much an interdisciplinary task or endeavor, was about more than just a cityscape. It is about the human persons who drive the activities in…

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The conflicting nature and tradeoffs of planning: The case of the flooded trail

Walking the streets–or Northampton’s case, its trails–is when a person learns about the environment. We took a pre-lunch walk with Joe along the Smith College Trail, which runs right beside the Mill River.

We were also left with a few lessons on the reality of what planning work entails because of an eroded part of the trail. This is a micro-level example of something that planners have to deal with, but it’s a fascinating case for me all the same, because of the public-private interplay on land. It was also a good case for my buddy Fai, who is an environmental engineer working on phytoremediation. Let’s take a closer look.


About the trail

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The red line shows the entirety of the Smith College trail. (Take note of the terrain elevations.)

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