Turning a hilly baranggay into a tourist attraction

January 3, 2019 | By: ARCH. BENJAMIN PANGANIBAN JR. (first published in The Manila Times last January 2, 2019)

On a hilly terrain overlooking a low flat land once flooded by debris and rain water during the wrath of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan De Oro City so many years back stands a promising community of informal settlers trying to regroup and improve their homes.

Known as Macanhan Hill in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, the timberland area has a lot of informal settlers. But this place will soon be one of the tourist attractions in Cagayan de Oro. If the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) Gold-CDO Chapter (UAP GOLD-CDO) chapter, headed by their very active and energetic chapter president Arch. Rhene Piquero, will have its way, the spot should be in the national limelight.

UAP Gold-CDO chapter is one of the oldest UAP chapters in Cagayan de Oro City. It has pioneered on a unique corporate social responsibility (CSR) project. The project, which has national significance, was undertaken to improve the lives of our less fortunate countrymen.

Macanhan Hill will soon be covered and designed with colors. The UAP Gold-CDO Chapter has started phase 1 of the three-phased project called “Paint a House.” They started last November the actual rehabilitation and painting works.

The project is indeed laudable. Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan De Oro City and myself, as UAP national president, have given imprimatur to the undertaking. Committed to the prioject, we attendied its unveiling last Dec. 19, 2018. It was witnessed by the barangay officials and families of the place, the UAP Gold CDO chapter officers and members who came in full force and the UAP national officers ably supported by District 3 Director Arch. Albert Rosel, UAP Deputy Chairman for PDC Arch. Ferdinand Dumpa, and UAP National Chairperson for Allied Services Arch. Minerva Rosel.

Similar projects of this nature worldwide have given recognition to places such as Rio de Janiero in Brazil and La Trinidad in Benguet Province in the Philippines. Conceptual planning for the project was started in July 2018 by the chapter officers. It was followed by several meetings with community officials and families. Vice President (VP) for Planning Arch. Nestle John Lofranco, VP for Operations Arch. Jennybeth Castro, Chapter Secretary Arch. Paolo-Gil Pajo, architects Junie Adora, James Ryan Regatuna, Danilo Realisan, Jeanette Bustalino, and Keith Gomonit and other board officers did outreach programs where majority of the chapter officers agreed on the project which was galvanized by the leadership of their dedicated Chapter President Arch. Rhene Piquero.

There are more than a hundred families on Macanhan Hill under the leadership of Kapitan Uy, whose constituents were hesitant at first but eventually gave in as they were taught by the UAP Chapter members about the benefits of the project.

It was the intent and desire of the UAP Gold-CDO chapter to conduct coordination meetings with the barangay and invite its representatives to the activities of the UAP chapter so that their constituents will eventually be the ones to carry the voice of the architects to the society. In short, through the baranggays, architecture will be known to the public.

It was also the desire of the UAP Gold-CDO Chapter that their friends in the industry and partner sponsors help in the rehabilitation of roofs, pedestrian walkways and the railings in the steep slopes of the hill. They sought paint contributions for the other phases of the project. In phase one, the chapter partnered with Pacific Paints and Manufacturing Co.

The UAP National Chapter has offered to extend assistance if needed to encourage certain allied technical professionals to be involved in certain specialty works to complete the project. Rosel initially assessed the needed technical professionals and discussed possible allied technical support to the chapter.

The beauty of this project is that the affected families are willing to participate in the corporate social responsibility endeavor and have committed their labor to apply colors to their homes. At the turn-over of the project, it is UAP Gold-CDO Chapter alone that will be recognized and remembered as the first UAP chapter to pioneer in designing a whole hilly barangay community with colors with an impact to create a tourist destination in Mindanao.

It is in the endless efforts of this chapter and its strong belief that it can change the lives of the less fortunate in society and give them dignity by helping to repair their homes so that they can be proud of themselves, and eventually make them productive citizens. It is very noble exercise by UAP Gold-CDO Chapter to show to society what architects can do to change lives and society for the better.

Last November 2018, the UAP National Chapter was awarded by the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) the outstanding Community Award in recognition of UAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility projects through the Bayanihan Arkitektura projects, which almost all of our 160 chapters worldwide conduct yearly. And for a dedicated, active, committed and dynamic UAP chapter, UAP Gold-CDO chapter has asserted its dominance to fulfill its mission for the community by tapping its members and friends in the industry, knowing fully well that they are being used as instruments of service for a greater plan and greater glory and that everything they do for the benefit of their brethren is for the glory of their heavenly Creator.

Mabuhay ang UAP GOLD-CDO Chapter. Mabuhay ang Arkitektong Pilipino.

(The writer is the current national president of the United Architects of the Philippines and the first national president coming from Mindanao. He has been in private practice for more than 33 years and is a Fellow of the UAP. He is also the first Asean Architect and APEC Architect coming from Davao City. He is a graduate of BS Architecture from the University of Mindanao and is also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore.)


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