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Urban experts plan ‘future’ of Metro Manila

/ 11:43 PM August 03, 2012

Imagine Metro Manila as a humongous stock room filled with millions upon millions of boxes randomly arranged. Now imagine what amount of effort it must take to rearrange all these boxes into a certain pattern. Still imagine the added difficulty when you realize that the big room is getting even bigger, and more boxes are being added.

This is the prospect facing property experts, top developers and urban planning experts when they were recently gathered by global nonprofit education and research hub Urban Land Institute. The overriding agenda here was finding out how to make one of the Asia-Pacific region’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas livable and sustainable.

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The July 9 meeting brought together heads of Net Group, Ayala Land Inc., SM Prime Holdings, Filinvest Land Inc., Eton Properties Philippines Inc., Federal Land Inc., Century Properties Inc., Robinsons Land Corp., the Philippine Stock Exchange and the government departments of public works and highways, transportation and communication, and national defense. DMCI Holdings Inc. and Nuvoland Philippines Inc. also relayed their commitments to the group as founding members of the Urban Land Institute.

Being the political, economic, social, cultural and educational center of the Philippines that has reaped the most significant effects of the modern phenomenon of the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector and overseas Filipinos’ remittances, Metro Manila may already be bursting at the seams. Experts have observed that rapid urbanization could lead to poor environmental quality, severe traffic congestion, substandard public amenities and utilities, housing shortages, socioeconomic inequity and deteriorating infrastructure that can, in turn, result in overall diminishing competitiveness among other cities in the region.

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Future report

Dr. Sujata S. Govada, project director, ULI North Asia, and founder and managing director of Urban Design & Planning Consultants Ltd. (UDP Int’l), said: “For the first time, multiple stakeholders, including developers, government officials, professionals, the academe and civil society came together to discuss key issues and concerns of the Metro Manila urban core. Through this collaborative process, the development of the 10 Principles (ULI’s future report for sustainable development of Metro Manila’s urban core+) will not only guide future sustainable development and create a better understanding of the issues and the problems and how they can (be) addressed with a strategic vision.” She added that the future report would cover the urban core of Metro Manila, including Makati, Bonifacio Global City and surrounding neighborhoods.

The report will look at ways the Philippines’ political and economic center can be improved with a more sustainable approach to city development. It is currently being developed as part of a collaborative process, with different members of the real estate industry, and will incorporate information discussed during the course of the event.

“Sustainability goes beyond buildings and includes physical, social, environmental and economic aspects, and should focus on the people and long-term value for the city. This includes social cohesion, equity and community development as well,” Govada told Inquirer Property in a statement.

The salient talking points of the July 9 gathering included: transport and infrastructure integration; PPP (public-private partnership) collaboration and management; strong leadership and commitment; strategic vision, master plan and policy framework; city image and identity; comprehensive planning process and coordination; sustainability, social equity and disaster relief; public engagement and transparency; social cohesion, housing and community development; and public space, walkability and open space.

Charlie Rufino, The Net Group president and ULI Philippines chair, said, “ULI, as an organization, is passionate about encouraging best practices in sustainable development, and by facilitating these meetings it broadens the dialogue on the subject and provides the means for these best practices to become a reality.”

Final authority

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“ULI wants to be considered the final authority on matters related to the responsible use of land. We expect the solid research will result in implementing guidelines for LGUs,” Rufino added.

John Fitzgerald, ULI Asia Pacific’s senior vice president and executive director, said that “as an organization, we will continue to bring the collective experience and knowledge of different members of the property industry together to help pave the way to a more sustainable future.”

Brandon Sedloff, ULI Asia Pacific managing director, said: “ULI is uniquely positioned to facilitate gatherings of the most senior real estate and land use professionals from the private and public sectors. Collaboration and dialogue are critical to responsible land use.”

Sedloff, who gave the keynote presentation during the event, said that “in the Philippines, there is a great opportunity to convene ULI’s preeminent thought-leaders to share global best practices, insights and perspectives on land use and real estate development issues as part of the ULI Advisory Services program of work.”

Industry movers, shakers

Present at the July 9 dinner were the ULI Philippines founding members Rufino; Tony Aquino, Ayala Land president; Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings president; Josephine Yap, Filinvest Land co-vice chair; Michael Tan, Eton Properties Philippines president; Alfred Ty, Federal Land president; Robbie Antonio, Century Properties managing director; Henry Yap, vice president for design and planning representing RLC president and COO Frederick Go. Isidro Consunji, DMCI Holdings president; and Rally Martinez, Nuvoland Philippines Inc. president, were unable to attend.

Also present were Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson; Philippine Stock Exchange president Hans Sicat; Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco; Defense acting chief of staff Dr. Peter Galvez and the “ULI 10 Principles” sponsors Forbes Park barangay chair Rosanna Fores, Forbes Park Association president Alex Ledesma, Makati Commercial Estate Association president David Balangue, and Bonifacio Global City Estate Association Inc. director Manny Blas. Other supporters of ULI Philippines who came were Judith Lopez, chair and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co.; the Philippine member-firm of PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) and architect Anna Sy-Lawrence of CS Architecture. BGCEA and the Transnational Diversified Group of Robbie Delgado helped bring together the key members of the event.

ULI Philippines’ executive council members were also in full attendance, namely lawyer Arnel P. Casanova, president of BCDA; lawyer Eusebio Tan, senior partner, ACCRA Law; architect Willie Coscolluela, vice president of Macea; David Leechiu, managing director of Jones Lang La Salle Leechiu; and Rick Santos, CBRE Philippines chair. The advisory council members in attendance were lawyer Ricardo Castro, managing partner of Quisumbing Torres, a member of Baker McKenzie; Eric Manuel, ULI Young Leaders Group and head of Brycg Inc.; and Karima Palafox, urban planner, Palafox & Associates/ULI YLG.

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TAGS: Infrastructure, Metro Manila, property, sustainable development, Transport, urban land institute, Urban Planning
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