We started a video series at UP Plano to talk about COVID-19 and Planning in the Philippines. As a starter, I talked about spatial inequality and critical public spaces, which are crucial points of discourse in understanding how we spatially respond to the pandemic. I briefly go over what has happened so far in the quarantine, look into what the crisis yields, and provide suggestions on how we can frame our response in moving towards more equitable cities, as against what used to be ‘normal’.
With COVID-19 threatening the world, many countries are challenged with how to deal with informal spaces, congested areas, and communities with low or no capacity to deal with the pandemic.
I recently worked with INKLINE to publish a guide on how we can better brace our communities to have a fighting chance. This guide looks into more tactical and affordable actions on protecting families in crowded areas. Read the article here.
If you know friends who work with informal communities, kindly share the guidelines with them. Keep safe, everyone!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Being in Washington DC was a dream come true–and a bittersweet experience. This is because one couldn’t help but think about what could’ve been in Manila: A similarly implemented capital, and a beautiful one at that. Here’s something I wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer: Click here to read the article.