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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The EnP Board Review Series: Part 6B – History, Theories, and Concepts

This was the lecture for the 2018 UP Plano Board Review Session on Environmental Planning history, theories, and concepts, in three parts. What’s new or different in this lecture as compared to Part 6A is that I presented topics thematically, not chronologically (which is also how The City Reader is presented). This looks more into the urban setting, not regional, and it covers topics all the way to global cities and globalised urbanization, which I feel are relevant to us all, but which are not covered enough or talked about enough in the country (for example, we learn about CBDs in school, but the world has moved to pseudo-CBDs and spaces of flows through technology).  

Part I

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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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Understanding resilient cities


This writeup has been in my mind for a long time–many people casually use the phrase “resilient cities,” and just use it for marketing projects, creating events, and so on, without really understanding the many aspects that comprise how a city really becomes resilient. There are two main things that we have to consider: Citizens as a people, and systems in a city, and both are complex in growing urban settings, with a number of layers and perspectives to know about. Read the full article here.

I included some learnings in my writeup, which I also recommend readers to look up and study:

Happy reading!

Neighborhood matters

Neighborhood Matters

What we go through everyday affects us. If it’s the daily routine into a chaotic urban jungle, complete with the recipe of traffic, road rage, pollution, and the works, we pile on the stress. If it’s a five-minute walk to where we need to go, green parks, and familiar people (the sense of a community), and safe spaces for our loved ones, then it’s a good, pleasant neighbourhood and life that we have.

Here’s a late post of something I wrote a few weeks back: Click here to read the full article. As always, thank you, Inquirer.

Getting into the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program

This morning, I woke up to a text from my good friend, Yowee Gonzales, saying she just received the news that she got accepted to the Spring 2018 Batch of the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program, and asked me if I got in, too (we had previously discussed our application in December last year). And I received the best news ever upon opening my e-mail:


I’ve been praying thanks since I read this. It’s the best new year’s news I’ve ever had.  This is going to be my second YSEALI experience, the first being the Urban Planning and Smart Growth Workshop held in Singapore in May 2017. (Here are a series of articles I published on the experience: The Nature of Cities, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Rappler X.)

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