Here’s another article published, which is a short recap of my learnings from YSEALI Urban Planning and Smart Growth Workshop – Singapore. Hoping that sharing this gets to inspire our city planners and local governments to move towards knowledge economies and innovation-driven localities, which really do help in smart growth.
No wonder. We complain about traffic but we induce it.
“The road is our right.” Yes, and here in the Philippines, we are the number one violators of our own rights.
For six days, I was released from the bondage of daily three-hour traffic standstills. This was the biggest relief from Metro Manila’s urban jungle. Even if my Filipino legs had to endure the twenty thousand or more steps of walkable Singapore.
While transport planning could provide a litany of issues on our daily plight, let me highlight these immediate few:
“We want to change the relationship between you and public transport.” While Singaporeans love the jeepney, and while this vehicle is culturally iconic for our capital city, many of us point to our drivers’ discipline and the terrible smoke-belching that comes with its trips. Moving ahead the crowded street, our option would be the unruly bus, or if we have the blessing of patience and immunity to being squeezed like sardines, then there’s the MRT or the LRT. A few bucks more could give us the taxi, but we complain there are sanitation and, well, respect issues.
This piece is not meant to compare the Philippines with Singapore. Though I want to. Though I can’t help but to. Because what is real to them is theoretical to us, or probably not even in our imagination. The objective of YSEALI was to learn best urban planning practices from the Lion City of Asia, and to get to work with other young leaders across the ASEAN, get a feel of what we share, or how we are unique. If only I could bring the entire Filipino population to see, feel, and know what urban planning is really like, once implemented. If only I could channel every moment on learning the perspectives from Chiang Mai, Ha Noi, Vientiane, Jakarta, and so many other cities represented to bring back home the knowledge and empowerment. If only I could convince you that planning is not merely consultancy work for another document gathering dust on a mayor’s bookshelf, or for the extra money in the pockets of our dearly elected councilors. This piece is here because in sharing my experience, I hope that there will be better awareness, more voices, and conscious efforts to improve our urban planning.