By Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao, UAP
AS the new President officially takes his seat in the next few days, Filipinos young and old hope that change will finally come. With the overwhelming victory of Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, his campaign mantra of “change is coming” will surely be in every Filipino’s mind, especially of the more than 16 million who voted for him. During his campaign, change was to take effect in how criminality, especially drug pushing, would be dealt with unrelentingly. Duterte also promised change in how government operations would be done, ridding it of corruption. There is also the planned change of the system of government to federalism.
However, change should not be concentrated on just peace and order. Although many people would love the thought of having to go out in public, walk on the streets and ride public utility vehicles without having to worry about their safety, positive change must also cover the way national and local leaders manage the cities and towns and make them truly livable and sutainable for everyone. Most of our cities suffer not just from social ills like crime, but also from environmental degradation, inefficient infrastructure and the lack of a relevant and pleasing image.
These issues should also be placed among the priorities of the national leadership if the country truly wants to achieve true progress that can be clearly felt by everyone, regardless of social status in the community.
In this issue, SunStar Weekend asked architects from different fields on which urban issue should be addressed by Duterte during his first 100 days in office, often considered as a pivotal period in his six-year term as president.
Our country has plenty of talented individuals and groups who are capable to propose plans and solve our urban issues – but they are underutilized or crippled by corruption. We have enough top-down approaches to urban planning and design, but are fragmented and restricted to each individual city. It’s also time we apply a more bottom-up approach where our local governments and communities develop a culture of transparency and people to be more involved in the planning process. Although I believe President Duterte has little influence in the urban design and planning of our cities, as this is largely in the scope of city governments, he can perhaps help in fighting and removing corruption, establish a governing body over all cities, and instill a culture of discipline and awareness of how people ought to behave in a city. This will take time, but it’s possible. — Patrick Andrew Tanhuanco, architect
It’s the conservation and reuse of waste water. Currently, our public sewers accommodate both effluents from septic systems and storm drain. All of which are simply discharged to rivers or the sea. With our urban growth, to ensure our survival, it is imperative that we upgrade said system so we may be able to process and recover clean water. This is especially useful in times of calamities. — Carlos Pio Zafra, architect
With majority of Filipinos being poor, President Digong Duterte should address and solve the issue with regards to increasing squatting problems of our less fortunate countrymen, by putting up more decent housing units for the poor and provide them with livelihoods and sufficient jobs for stable income which could make them independent. These will reduce the poverty level of our country which is usually the causes of crimes, drug problems, disobedience and other related problems to the government. After 100 days, the Philippines would then be a better place for most Filipinos. — Guillermo Hisancha, United Architects of the Philippines national president
As an architect by profession, my wish for our incoming President Duterte’s first 100 days in office is to clean the streets of major cities from air pollution. Smoke-belching land transportation, private or publicly owned vehicles, must not be allowed anymore to run and pollute the urban streets. A good example is in Manila where an elevated walkway would be made along Edsa, making the area walkable. Archt. Daniel Lichauco, an urban planner, voluntarily came up with an architectural solution. He said, “The design of Edsa doesn’t allow people to cross. It’s very hard for people to move from one side to another. If a six-meter-wide walkway cooled by tropical plants and systems reliant on solar or wind power is constructed on top of the sidewalk, pedestrians would no longer have to endure the pollution, crime and other hazards happening below, he said. — Leah Martin, architect / assistant professor