Build Better Berde!

January 17, 2020 | By: Architect Felino A. Palafox, Jr. (first published in The Manila Times last January 16, 2020)

THE land area of Metropolitan Davao is seven times the size of Metro Manila; seven times the size of Seoul, South Korea; six times the size of Singapore; and one-and-a-half times the size of Hong Kong. The Davao Region is the second fastest growing economy in the country with 8.6-percent growth. It is one of the major gateways of the Philippines to the BIMP-EAGA or the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area and to the Asia Pacific and can transform Mindanao into one of the front doors to the world, south of the Philippines.

Davao Harbor is one of the largest natural harbors in the world; it can accommodate tremendous economic trade through its international seaports. And international cruise ships and world-class international airports are access points in experiencing the beautiful islands of Mindanao, starting from the paradise Island Garden City of Samal; the world-class surfing waves and blue waters of Davao Oriental; climbing the boulders of the majestic Mount Apo, the last breeding ground of our Philippine Eagles in Davao City; the Hot Spring Waterfalls of Maco, which the Japanese tourists would definitely love; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization world heritage park of Mount Hamiguitan, among many others. Davao Region, Metropolitan Davao and the rest of the Mindanao are diamonds that are waiting to be polished. The future of the Philippines rests greatly in the success of Davao and the rest of Mindanao.

Metro Davao urban master plan
We were fortunate to have been selected to help plan the future of Metro Davao, with the lead agency Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), partner university institutions, other agencies such as the National Economic Development Authority and the Davao Integrated Development Planning office, and the eight local government units of Metropolitan Davao which are: Digos City, municipality of Sta. Cruz, Davao City, Panabo City, municipality of Carmen, Tagum City, Island Garden City of Samal and municipality of Maco.

What is unique about the plan, especially MinDA, that our partners stressed is that the principles of collaboration and citizen-participation will be at the foundation and core of the plan. In the entire duration of the planning process, the team was able to hold more than a hundred meetings and have a conversation with more than a thousand citizens, both formal and informal, including interviewing the “masahistas” along the Roxas Night Market, business chambers and students.

Through the collaborative process, citizens were able to voice their aspirations and dreams for the emerging metropolis, but more importantly, they were able to express the importance of outcomes and not outputs as indicators in measuring the success of the plans. Outcomes such as clean source of water as the result of better environmental waste management infrastructure, new economic opportunities and new access points as a result of new road developments, cleaner air and more places for active leisure as a result of new park developments and landscaping of pedestrian walkways, and a more convenient and faster travel time as a result of an integrated mass transport system.

The collaborative process stimulated multi-disciplinary solutions to multisectoral challenges against silo type and departmentalized approaches. It encouraged effective sustainable use and management of environmental resources such as the flow of water from ridge-to-reef; the overall impact of extreme ground water extraction to land subsidence, saltwater-intrusion, and flooding; and the increase the general quality of life of the citizens through mass transportation and pedestrian mobility. And urged local government units to advance complimentary intercity development strategies, economies of scale, and specialization of human capital, agricultural and industrial production.

The plan proposed interconnected parks, sky gardens and pedestrian networks with lush urban landscaping; institutionalization of mass transportation and development of new transportation corridors; development of international cruise ports and marinas and world class international airports that will serve as one of the regional gateways; display and preservation of culture and heritage in the design of structures; the development of bid data and data-science facilities to help manage the challenges and resources of the metropolis; and identification of areas that will be affected by the negative impact of climate change and other hazards, among many others. But more importantly it envisions a united Metropolitan Davao by encouraging the possible institutionalization of the Metro Davao Development Authority.

Build Better Berde!
While we celebrate the emergence of the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the Philippines, wherein trillions of pesos are set in the pipeline, it is also critical that these infrastructure projects are well integrated to achieve outcomes in equitable social development, expansive economic growth and environmental sustainability. These infrastructure plans and projects are not meant for only one specific sector or an isolated and fragmented problem, but it is a critical support in achieving problems and challenges that are multisectoral in nature.

Through the various consultations and collaborations with both private and public sector, Build Better Berde! became the rallying vision of the Metro Davao Urban Master Plan.

Build, is for the continuous development of major infrastructure projects such as road networks, hospitals, schools, airports and seaports;

Better is for the uplifting of quality of life by considering economic growth, peace and security, and culture, identity and spirituality, and drive to achieve integral human development; and

Berde (Green) for ecological integrity, environmental sustainability, and climate change adaptability.

The Metropolitan Davao Urban master plan envisions a metropolis and region that is smart, sustainable, livable, and resilient. We at Palafox strongly believe that the plan is achievable and within reach.

With commitment and belief in the future of Davao and Mindanao, we decided to open a Palafox Mindanao Headquarters in Davao City to continuously extend our knowledge and experience in urban and regional planning, sustainable architecture design, and allied services and expertise.

Now the implementation begins.



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