Monday, December 8, 2014

Managing Cities

by Alan S. Cajes
Paris, France

Cities are like ecosystems. They provide the life-support systems to all types of people who live within (and beyond) their boundaries. The life-support systems include housing, employment, trade, industry, commerce, education, transportation, water, electricity, sanitation, health care, security and recreation facilities, among others. Every person in cities has a specific location and profession (habitat and niche). By performing their respective professions in their respective locations, everyone contributes in maintaining a balance that sustains the life of cities.

But just like natural ecosystems, urban ecosystems can be degraded and destroyed. As members of urban ecosystems, it would help if everyone becomes aware of certain principles and approaches that will make cities become livable.


Nature works as a unitary whole, in an entirety of interactions that are beyond artificial divisions such as those imposed by people. Nature also operates based on certain principles that other fields call by other names like fundamental ecological processes or natural law. The principles are presented below. These are interrelated.

1. All forms of life are important

The tiniest plant and the tallest tree, the unseen microorganism and the biggest whale -- all have distinct roles in the ecosystem. If one of these becomes extinct, then there is a breakdown in the food chain, in the food web, in the food pyramid, in the cycle of materials and, therefore, in the ecosystem.

2. Everything is connected with everything else

Both the living and non-living components of an ecosystem depend on each other for survival. None of these components is superior to the other and controls it. Because of interrelatedness, factors affecting one part would affect the rest.

3. Nothing is for free

Although the natural environment continuously recycles nutrients, the resources are not infinite. There is a limit up to which the ecosystem can support the demands of a population on its resources.

4. Nature knows best

For generations, nature has taken good care of itself. Man cannot determine nor dictate through legal standards or processes what is sustainable to maintain nature's delicate balance. He must, on the contrary, abide by nature's laws or suffer the consequences of nature's wrath.

5. Everything goes somewhere

Materials in the environment are constantly reshaped or transformed, but nothing is created and destroyed. This is among the most basic principles of nature. However, man's constant interference with the natural processes and his misuse of the resources have created too much waste or useless resources, some of which have been transformed into harmful materials.

6. Everything changes

The interaction among living and non-living things in the ecosystem is a constant process and results in the transfer of energy from one thing to another, and the growth and eventual decay of all matter -- all of these in an endless cycle. The operation of natural laws assures that this process of change results in the health and maintenance of the environment.

7. Nature is beautiful and we are the stewards of creation

Humanity is realizing only now its true role with respect to the environment -- and that is to manage it according to the laws which have enabled it to exist for many years. By abusing the environment, man, in the end, would end up the loser. On the other hand, as man learns to abide by the principles and processes of nature, he would benefit the most from it.


The key approaches that this writer has learned from the training program on Managing Big Cities at Ecole National D’Administration are presented below.(1)

1. Cities, like human beings, must evolve in accordance to their DNA or their historical significance. In designing cities or urban settlements, it is important that culture and values are recognized, respected and allowed to be reflected in land-use and settlement policies. For example, the city government mandates the kind of structures that will be constructed along the roads of Paris since 1800s to ensure uniformity, alignment and aesthetic value.

2. There are always trade-offs involved in designing urban settlements, but what should be given priority is the general welfare of the population. For example, the right to own cars and use them is limited by the right of the pedestrians to have safe and conducive walkways, as well as parks and open spaces.

3. Laws are meant to be implemented, not to be broken. For example, a Prefect, who is assigned as the representative of the French State at the local level, can file a case in an administrative court if local administrators fail to implement or violate any law.

4. Citizens can freely express their needs or desires and have the right to get answers. This could be traced to the long history of a semblance of direct democracy at the village level in France. For example, a citizen can demand a job for him/her or other members of the family and has the right to receive a response from the local executive. Another example is the case of a local chief executive who could not get the support of the citizens in implementing a project because of a failure to consult the stakeholders.

5. A national land-use and housing policy is critical to ensure that local governments can develop their respective land-use and housing policies that conform to the mandates under a national policy. In the case of the Philippines, the national land-use act remains a bill. In the absence of a national guide, the local government units prepare their land-use plans, if at all, based on limited knowledge and skill in land-use and settlement planning. The result is an unplanned development that negatively affects the various aspects of community life.

6. There are many ways to manage the transportation requirement of an urban settlement, as long as proper analysis is done and appropriate policies are in place. For example, the City of Paris has reduced the volume of cars by 10% for the past 3 years by prohibiting cars in some roads, by making bus rides convenient, and by making the subways faster and safe.

7. European cities have accepted the phenomenon of private vehicle owners ferrying passengers for a fee using an online registration system as a form of positive market behavior. For example, in the City of Paris, the use of private vehicles to carry passengers is not regulated by the State or by the city government.

8. There are many ways to manage the transportation requirements of cities. In the case of Paris, it has successfully used a combination of the following:

-High cost of getting a plate for taxis -- this limits the applications for taxi franchise.

-Wide and unbroken pedestrian walkways – this encourages walking.

-Reduction of spaces for cars – this discourages car ownership.

-Strict enforcement of no-parking zones – this discourages bringing of cars in certain areas.

-Efficient and on-time subway trains – this encourages more users.

-Conducive bus rides in designated bus stops – this provides an alternative to subway trains.

-Extensive network of metro and district trains - this helps prevent urban sprawl and give the people a choice where to stay.

-Use of bus rapid transit and trams - this make it easy to transport people faster compared to buses and cheaper compared to trains.

-Expensive spaces in Paris - this discourages urban congestion.

-Urban policies and design – these discourage informal settlements along waterways and areas of historical and aesthetic value.

-Policies that promote the city as a destination for historical and sustainable tourists – these attract more visitors than any other place.

9. Use of CCTVs, cars, horses and sufficient personnel as a tool for traffic management and for law enforcement. For example, the entire city has a network of CCTVs that could spot potential and actual violations.

10. Policy to prohibit the construction of buildings that uses negative energy. For example, a building permit is issued only if a property owner or developer could show evidence that it could generate more power than it will demand from the grid.

Implications to Philippine Urban Settlements

In view of the lessons learned above and the observations that this writer had noted down during  visits to different cities, there are challenges and opportunities that if properly understood and appropriately responded to, would help the state and non-state actors to embark on a sustainable settlements pathway for the country. The key challenges and opportunities are described below.

Cities need to create an identity

Strategic planning practitioners know the importance of formulating a vision for cities based on the traditional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) or on the imagined and desired future state using the alternative inquiry (AI) approach. A vision statement is the main strategic goal of any organization. It embodies the set of future conditions that the stakeholders define and determine within a given time frame. Although futuristic in direction, a vision statement, however, needs to be grounded on a set of cultural givens and social artifacts. In this manner, a city’s identify is a product of its historical unfolding. This goes without saying, however, that cities could not innovate or could not create an identity based on a clean slate.

A city’s identity is her own soul. If a city projects herself as a place of golden friendship, then it follows that visitors will experience a special kind of affinity that only the city could offer. It should not be a city where visitors could not find an honest cab or tricycle driver, where street violence is rampant, and where hotels and tourist destinations are not safe. If a city imagines herself as a green and healthy city, then this implies that the city is walkable through wide and unbroken pedestrian lanes, that vehicles do not emit toxic gases that will destroy the lungs and reduce the intelligence quotient of children and adults, that there are bicycle and skateboard lanes, that there are green parks where people can rest and have leisure, that the city is not covered by billboards of all sizes and contents, that every side and corner is clean, that waterways are not dead and clogged with garbage, and that houses and establishments follow proper design specifications regardless of class or level of income.

Cities need proper land-use plans and building designs

Land-use planning was earlier used as a means to stop the uncontrolled development of settlements. It is based on the power of the city, a power derived from the Constitution, to limit individual liberty to ensure that every citizen lives in a settlement that is fit for human habitation. It “creates the prerequisites required to achieve a type of land use, which is sustainable, socially and environmentally compatible, socially desirable and economically sound”. (2) It means creating a settlement that jives with its natural endowment. It means establishing what Justice Douglas described as a “quiet place where yards are wide, people few, and motor vehicles restricted” because these “are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project addressed to family needs.” He explained: “The police power is not confined to elimination of filth, stench, and unhealthy places. It is ample to lay out zones where family values, youth values, and the blessings of quiet seclusion and clean air make the area a sanctuary for people." (3)

Cities must have land-use plans that are based on best contemporary practices and they must implement land-use plans uniformly, consistently and well. In accordance to land-use plans, cities must also have suitable building design specifications to ensure that the edifices, transportation facilities, open spaces and houses blend with the overall design of the cities. Cities must not lose sight of their origin, at least based on the conventional view, that they emerged as a result of the agricultural revolution to support the requirements of an increasingly large population.

Cities must provide appropriate transport plans

Cities must provide opportunities for people to walk safely from their houses to places of work, learning, worship and recreation. Researchers point out that walking provides fitness and blood pressure benefits. To encourage walking, cities should establish wide and unbroken pedestrian lanes, which are free from barriers like parked vehicles. To help improve the air quality, cities should plant tree species that have high capacity to absorb greenhouse gases along roads and in green parks. To avoid the conflict between trees and electricity lines and posts, as well as to reduce the risk of damage from typhoons, cities should pursue underground cabling of electricity and telephone lines. To prevent damage to the skylines and cultural heritage, cities should come up with an innovative way of using properly designed trains (aboveground or underground), bus rapid transit, trams, buses, cabs, jeeps and tricycles using electricity, liquefied petroleum gas or liquefied natural gas.

Cities must also come up with appropriate policies, laws and regulations. To limit the number of vehicles, cities should declare old vehicles as off limits in city roads, disallow vehicle ownership without appropriate parking areas, and limit the streets where vehicles are allowed.

Cities must provide suitable housing units

The presence of informal settlers, especially the urban poor, is a big challenge in city governance. However, it is a problem that will become serious over time if correct solutions are not implemented at the right time. The correct solution is to enforce the land-use plan, especially the easement requirements, remove the informal settlements, and transfer the settlers in suitable housing units located in appropriate areas. This means that transferees will not have difficulty taking public transportation to their places of work – which an efficient public transportation system should be able to provide. People can pay their respected housing units over time based on agreed upon dates.

Suitable housing units should be planned so that the health, sanitation and safety of the residents are not compromised. This means providing proper solid waste management, clean water management, effective, efficient and professional law enforcement, as well as sufficient health care services and facilities.


There is no easy way to pursue good governance in cities. But there are cities in the Philippines (Marikina, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, etc.) and abroad (Savannah, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, Osaka) that are trying to show the way. If others could do it, then there is no reason why the rest could not do it.

Indeed, there are factors that contribute in creating unsustainable cities. These factors generally include the absence of the political will to implement rules, absence of civic will to make political leaders accountable, and absence of corporate citizenship from the business sector. The experience of other cities point to some ways to break the cycle of unsustainability. At one point, a good leader will be elected by the people and this leader will pursue that which is good for the greatest number. At another point, the people will make their voices heard and demand that their leaders do their job. Somewhere in the future, a visionary from the private sector will produce goods that will not harm human and ecological health, deliver services that will benefit the community and the government, and help shape the development of cities along such paths as green productivity, sustainable consumption, cleaner production or sustainability.

(1) On November 24-28, 2014, I participated in the training program entitled “Managing Big Cities” conducted by the Ecole National D’Administration at its main office in Paris. The French Government provided the scholarship grant for the study. I thank DAP SVP Magdalena L. Mendoza for nominating me to the training program. The nomination was duly endorsed by DAP President Antonio D. Kalaw Jr. and DAP Chairman of the Board Dr. Cayetano W. Paderanga.

(2) Working Group on Integrated Land Use Planning (1999). Land Use Planning Methods, Strategies and Tools. Eschborn, Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH

(3) Justice Douglas, Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas (1974). Available at

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kausaban sa Klima

Ang Batad Rice Terraces delikado sa huwaw, pagbaha ug landslide nga pipila
sa mga maot nga epekto sa kusaban sa klima (Litraro kuha ni Alan Cajes)
Ang pagkausab o pagkabag-o sa klima o panahon adunay dako nga epekto sa kinabuhi sa tawo, sa iyang katilingban ug sa kinaiyahan (natural environment) sa iyang lugar. Dili man tood kanunay nga maot ang epekto sa pagkausab sa klima, apan ang kasagarang epekto peligroso sa tawo, sa katilingban ug sa kinaiayahan.

Sa dili pa nato tuki-on kung unsa ang buot ipasabot sa kausaban sa klima, atong paundingan ang pipila nga angay natong mahibaw-an mahitungod sa atong kinaiyahan.

Ang kinaiyan adunay mga sistemang ekolohikal (ecological systems). Kining mga sistemang ekolohikal nagkalain-lain, apan silang tanan pareho nga dunay buhi (living) ug dili buhi (non-living) nga mga nilalang nga nagkinahanglan sa usag-usa aron ang sistemang ekolohikal mabusi, magpadayon ug dili madaot.

Usa sa mahinungdanong sistemang ekolohikal mao ang lasang (forest). Ang usa ka lasang daghan ug nagkadaiyang buhi nga mga nilalang, sama sa mga tanom, hayop, langgam (bird), insekto, gagmay nga mga organismo (microorganisms) ug uban pa. Ang lasang daghan usab ug mga dili buhi nga mga nilalang, sama sa yuta, tubig, nahulog nga dahon, naputol nga sanga sa kahoy, ug uban pa.

Hulagway sa usa ka lasang sa Banaue
(gikan sa
Ang mga nilalang nga nagpuyo sa lasang adunay lain-laing puy-anan (habitat) ug angayang luna (niche). Pananglit, ang kahoy nga narra motubo sa lasang nga adunay lumad nga mga kahoy, walay dayag o klaro nga epekto sa kalihokan sa tawo, ug walay grabe nga daot sa ekolohiyang mga pamaagi (ecological processes). Motubo usab ang narra sa lasang nga namugna human madaot ang orihinal nga lasang tungod sa tawo (sama sa pag-uma) ug kinaiyahan (sama sa natural nga sunog). 

Makit-an ang narra sa tanang lugar sa Pilipinas, gawas sa lugar nga dunay kahabugon nga sobra sa 8,000 ka tiil. Lahi ang pinuyanan sa narra ug molave tungod kay ang molave motubo lang sa mga lugar nga dili sobra sa 500 ka tiil ang kahabogon.

Ang mga lumad nga kahoy sa atong kalasangan adunay mahinungdanong papel nga gigampan. Sa atong lasang nga tropikal (tropical forest), ang mga  kahoy moabot sa gitas-on nga hangtud 33 ka metros (meters), sama sa atong narra. Ang gidak-on sa iyang puno-an moabot ug duha ka metros. Ang iyang puno-an kasagarang modako hangtud sa pito (7) ka metros ang dayametro tungod sa mga dagkong mga dalid. Ang iyang mga sanga tag-as. Sa bag-o pa ang mga sanga, patoyhakaw kini hangtud nga mobawog, unya moduko o molunang ang mga tumoy nga daw ngilit sa payong.

Ang mga kahoy sa ubos nga lasang (menos 1,000 metros) nga nakasinati ug kusog nga uwan matag tuig (lowland rainforest) kasagaran dagko, tul-lid ug tag-as sama sa narra. Ang ilang mga sanga ug mga dahon nga moabot sa kahabugon nga 20 hangtud 40 metros nagapandong sa adlaw ug nagapahamog sa ulan ug hangin. Sa ngi-ob ug bugnaw nga espasyo ubos sa mga dahon ug ibabaw sa yuta sa lasang, daghan ug nagkalain-laing mga halaman, sama sa mga tanom nga mokatkat, pako, bagon, libon ug mga gagmay nga mga kahoy, ang nanglambo. Ang yuta sa lasang, nga gitabonan sa mga dahong laya ug mga nadogta nga gikan sa halamanan, gi-atbogan sa gagmay nga mga tanom ug hayop (flora ug fauna).
Hulagway sa tubig-saluran gikan sa
 Arkansas Watershed Advisory Groups

Ang mga kahoy sa taas ug bugnaw nga lasang (montaine rainforest) makaplagan sugod sa elebasyon nga 1,000 metros. Ibabaw sa bugnaw nga lasang, sugod sa elebasyon nga 2,500 metros, makaplagan ang mga kahoy nga kasagaran gitabonan ang ilang mga pungkay sa mga panganod (cloud forest). Kini nga mga lasang kanunay nga basa tungod sa kanunay nga ulan. Tungod niini, nagtipig ang mga lasang ug dagko nga anib sa tubig nga hinayhinay nga modagayday ngadto sa mga tuburan, kasapaan ug kasubaan. Ang mga lasang usab maoy hinungdan sa kaalimuot (humidity) nga moabot sa 70-100 porsento bisan sa panahong ting-init. Sa atong nasod, ang humid nga hangin kasarangan mobugnaw sa matag 1,000 metros nga elebasyon. Kung mas taas ang elebasyon, mas bugnaw ang hangin. Kung mas bugnaw ang hangin, mas kanunay ang pag-uwan. Kung mas kanunay ang pag-uwan, mas kanunay nga modagayday ang tubig sa mga tuburan, kasapaan ug kasubaan. Mahinungdanon kini kay ang atong mga tubig-saluran (watersheds) dili dagko kung ikompara sa tubig-saluran sa mga nasod nga Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Congo, America ug Russia.

Mao gani nga ang mga bagyo nga moagi sa Pilipinas matawag nato nga gasa tungod kay ang uwan nga ilang dala nagapuno sa tubig nga gitipigan sa atong mga tubig-saluran. Ang mga dahon sa atong kalasangan nagapakunhod sa mga kusog nga ulan aron ang tubig masawo sa yuta. Ang atong kalasangan nagasilbi nga taming batok sa kusog nga hangin. Sila nagapugong sa pagdahili sa yuta ug nagatabang sa pagpadayon sa sikulo sa tubig (water cycle). Sila usab nagapugong sa pagbag-o sa klima kay ang gas nga carbon dioxide gigamit sa ilang mga dahon sa phostynthesis o pagkombertir sa silaw sa adlaw ngadto sa enerheyang kemikal. Kining enerheyang kemikal maoy sugnod aron moandar ang natural nga kalihokan sa kahoy, sama sa pagsuyop sa tubig gikan sa yuta aron dad-on ngadto sa mga dahon. Pinaagi sa photosynthesis, ang carbon dioxide suyopon sa mga dahon ug ang sobra nga oxygen buhian ug balik ngadto sa atmospera. Kining girilis nga oxygen apil sa hangin nga atong giginhawa.

Gawas sa lasang, aduna pay laing mga sistemang ekolohikal nga nagatabang sa atong planeta aron makab-ot ang balanseng ekolohiya (ecological balance). Ang ubang sistemang ekolohikal mao ang katubigang tab-ang (freshwater ecosystem), kadagatan (marine ecosystem), kasagbotan (grassland ecosystem, ug uban. Kung dili nato gub-on ang sistemang ekolohikal, posibleng dili nato mausab ang klima sama sa nahitabo karon. Isip pahinumdom, kung wala na o daot na ang atong kalasangan, dyutay na lang ang mosuyop sa carbon dioxide nga usa sa mga gas nga hinungdan sa kausaban sa klima. Kung padayon ang pag rilis nato ug carbon dioxide sa atmospera pinaagi sa pagsunog sa gasolina o diesel ug uban pa para sa atong mga sakyanan ug mga pabrika, padayon ang pagtingob sa carbon dioxide sa atmospera.

Hulagway sa greenhouse gikan sa
Nganong mausab man ang klima kung matingob ang gas, sama sa carbon dioxide, sa atmospera?

Sa dili pa nato tubagon ang pangutana, kinahanglan natong masabtan ang konsepto nga epekto sa greenhouse (greenhouse effect). Ang epekto sa greenhouse nakuha gikan sa usa ka talamnanan nga gitabunan ug bildo o plastik. Kini nga talamnanan gitawag ug greenhouse. Panahon sa gabii, ang sulod sa greenhouse halos pareho kabugnaw sa hangin sa gawas niini. Inig subang sa adlaw, ang init sa silaw suyupon sa greenhouse. Kini maoy hinungdan nga ang hangin sa sulod sa greenhouse moinit ug dili ma rilis tungod sa atop ug bungbong nga gama sa bildo o plastik. Ang init sa sulod sa greenhouse kinahanglan aron motubo ang mga tanom. Ang greenhouse gigamit aron maprotektahan ug maamoma ang mga tinanom. 

Kung atong ilisan ang greenhouse sa atong planeta, ang pag-init sa hangin ug pagmentenar sa kaiiniton maoy gitawag nga epektong greenhouse. Ang nag pugong sa init nga hangin aron dili moikyas gitawag nga greenhouse gasses.

Tungod sa enhanced greenhouse effect, nadugangan ang init nga
nagpabilin sa kalibutan (
Ang atong planeta, sama sa usa ka greenhouse, gitabunan sa usa ka habol sa hangin nga gitawag nga atmospera. Ang atmospera dunay pipila ka mga hut-ong sa mga gas, sama sa nitrogen (78.08%), oxygen (20.95%), argon (0.93%), ug ang mga gitawag nga greenhouse gasses sama sa carbon dioxide (0.038%), tubig-alisngaw (1%), methane (0.442%), nitrous oxide (0.078%) ug ozone (0.010%). Ang greenhouse gases maoy nagapugong aron ang ubang init sa silaw sa adlaw dili makaikyas. Kung wala ang mga greenhouse gases, ang kasarangang temperature sa planeta menusan pa ug 30 degrees Celsius. Sa ingon ani ka ubos nga temperatura, ang mga sitemang ekolohikal dili mabuhi. Walay tanom, hayop, ug tawo nga mabuhi.

Ang epektong greenhouse diay maoy hinungdanan nganong posible ang kinabuhi sa yuta. Ug ang mga natural nga greenhouse gasses maoy nagatabang aron mahitabo ang epektong greenhouse. 

Apan nganong mausab man ang klima kung matingob ang greenhouse gas, sama sa carbon dioxide, sa atmospera?

Nag-anam ug kadaghan ang greenhouse gases nga
atong girilis ngadto sa atmospera (
Ang kausaban sa klima nahitabo tungod sa pag-init sa kalibutan (global warming) nga tungod usab sa sobrang epektong greenhouse. Tungod sa mga kalihokan sa katawhan, sama sa paggamit ug sakyanan, kuryente, aerosols, airconditioner, refrigerator, apil na ang pagputol sa mga kakahuyan, pagsunog sa basura, ug polusyon sa hangin, yuta ug tubig, gidugangan sa tawo ang natural greenhouse gases. 

Isip ehemplo, ang carbon dioxide sa atmospera niadtong tuig 2011 miabot sa 392 parts per million (ppm). Kini nga lebel mas taas pa sa pagtaas-kanaog sa konsentrasyon sa carbon dioxide sulod sa mi-aging 650,000 ka mga katuigan nga natali lang sa lebel nga 180-280 ppm.  Ug kay natingob ang gidugangan nga greenhouse gases sa atmospera, nasobrahan ang pagpugong sa init gikan sa adlaw. Tungod niini, mitaas ang temperatura sa atong kalibutan.

Matud sa mga eksperto, ang kasarangang temperatura sa ibabaw sa yuta mitaas ug 1 degree Celsius sa milabay nga siglo ug ang pinakahinugdan mao ang sobrang epektong greenhouse. Sa Pilipinas, ang anomaliya sa temperature sa ibabaw sa yuta sa milabay nga 30 ka tuig natali sa 0.1 - 0.5 degree Celsius matag dekada sa Northern Luzon ug 0.5 - 1.0 degree Celsius matag dekada sa Visayas ug Mindanao.

Ang kausaban sa klima modala ug huwaw sa ubang lugar sa Pilipinas
Ang kausaban sa klima mohatod ug mga peligro sa atong nasod. Apil sa mga peligro mao ang pagtaas sa tubig sa dagat, mas kusog nga mga bagyo, huwaw, baha, pagdahili sa yuta ug uban pa.

Unsay mahimong buhaton aron dili grabe ang risgo nga dala sa pagkausab sa klima? Mao kini ang atong tuki-on sa mosunod nga artikulo. (Sinulat ni Alan S. Cajes)

Main References:

Comiso, Josefino C., et. al. (2014). Changing Philippine Climate, Impacts on Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Available at

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lenten Reflection on Vested Interest

by Alan S. Cajes

I used to think that human beings perform an act to promote their own vested interest. They love, and they are loved in return or simply find fulfillment in loving; take good care of other people to enjoy freedom with responsibility; cheat, material gain; steal, financial security; lie, freedom with no responsibility, and so on. 

This Good Friday, as we join the Christian community in remembering the passion and death of Christ, I could not help but question my own assumption. Did Christ die to fulfill the prophecy? Did he go through the process of betrayal to experience what it is to be human? Or did he just do it to please the Father? He said so himself: "Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” 
In the Garden of Gethsemane, however, we learned that he somehow had second thoughts about his mission and that he was terribly afraid. He first prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Deeply troubled and aggrieved as he was, Christ eventually chose to accept his fate saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 
Thus, there is a higher form of vested interest -- giving it up. As we transcend the logic and music of our right and left brains, we plug ourselves into a higher form of consciousness, that of the Divine, where there is no more vested interest, but only a higher level of selflessness. 
A blessed Good Friday to all.

Friday, January 10, 2014

DAP conducts capability training for IPs

By: Claro A. Lanipa

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 19 (PIA) – The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), Mindanao Office in partnership with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-9, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Ateneo de Davao and Mindanawon recently conducted a training on “Strengthening the Capacity of Indigenous Peoples (IP, for brevity) Mandatory Representatives to Local Legislative Councils  at Jardin Laviña Hotel, Zamboanga City.

The event was attended by 29 provincial, city and municipal representatives from various ethno-linguistic groups in the region, particularly the Subanen, Yakan, Bajau, Samal and Kalibugan.

The training aimed to gain understanding of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) framework for development, acquire knowledge in mainstream government to be able to interface with the indigenous governance system, understand the accountability of public officials and employees, learn from navigating the government budget and financial processes among others.

Mr. Alan S. Cajes, vice president and managing director of DAP Mindanao announced that under the program  Strengthening Advocacy of Lumads in Government (SALIG-LUMAD), the participants will also undergo mentoring and coaching after the capability training, with the objective of formulating an IP agenda to promote advocacies and participation in the local legislative councils.

“It is imperative for our IPs to develop their functional skills on existing government processes for them to further complement their cultural and traditional competencies in governance,” Cajes emphasized.

Among the speakers in the said training were IP champion Fr. Albert S. Alejo, SJ; Atty. Leilene Marie C. Gallardo of NCIP Central Office; Atty. Mohamad Taha S. Arakama and Jun A. Cilo of DILG IX; Alan S. Cajes; Atty. Marco A. Buena of the Office of the OMBUDSMAN for Mindanao and Director Annabelle C. Echavez and Lilia R. Ledesma of DBM IX.

The training was attended by NCIP Commissioners Cosme M. Lambayon and Era C. España, NCIP IX Regional Director Salong M. Sunggod together with some staff, Ms. Lyn A. Balanza , IPMR Focal Person of Region XI, and the DAP  Mindanao training team, headed by Ms. Regina R. Fernandez. (FPG/CAL/PIA-Zamboanga del Sur with reports from NCIP-9)
See more at:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two Views of Consciousness

by Alan S. Cajes
Journal of Consciousness Studies
Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s ideas resonated in my mind while listening to our professor, Dr. Dejillas, at the Asian Social Institute last Saturday, October 5. Nasr views traditional cosmologies as forwarding the idea that Pure Consciousness or Pure Being manifests down to the fundamental constituent of the cosmos –matter—while maintaining Its transcendence. In this view, consciousness is actively involved in the coming into being of the universe. The opposite or the modern reductionist view, explains Nasr, interprets Pure Consciousness or Pure Being as ascending “from the primordial cosmic soup”. In this view, consciousness is passive in the “evolution of the cosmos”.

These two views of consciousness have profound impact on how we make sense of our lives. I explained this in an earlier article entitled Valuing and the Environment, which has been included in the list of online resources by a Jesuit school of theology in the United States, as well as used as a reference by at least three dissertations presented at U.S. universities.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Development Strategies through Science and Technology for the Sustainable Management of Environment and Natural Resources

by Alan S. Cajes§

In 1975-1977, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), UP Population Institute, and the UP School of Economics (UPSE) formed a research consortium to implement a future-oriented research program known as Population, Resources, Environment, and the Philippine Future (PREPF). The findings and recommendations of the study entitled Probing Our Futures: The Philippine 2000 A.D. was published in 1980. In addition to interpreting the data related to “poverty, ignorance, ill-health, poor nutrition, and gross income inequity,” the study also analyzed historical information about the country’s key natural resources, including forestry and fisheries (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980).

In his introduction to the report, Prof. Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz clarified that despite the limitations of future-oriented studies, probing the future actually makes sense. He said:

“There is not a single future ahead of us. There are several possible futures, and the question therefore is: What are the futures in the future? If we can identify many possible futures, and reduce these to the probable futures, then we can select our preferred futures” (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980).

In relation to forestry, the study reported the following:

“Satellite photographs (LANDSAT) taken in 1976 show that only nine million hectares or 30% of our total land area are covered by healthy well-stocked forests, while six million hectares or 20% of our total land area are inadequately stocked. PREPF studies indicate that by year 2000, all our old-growth forests will have been harvested to meet the foreign demand for Philippine wood products and to sustain the national development plan’s targets for construction during the last two decades of this century” (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980).

The recommendations of the study included the following, among others:
  1. Reforestation of 1.5 million hectares of denuded watershed for protection purposes and 1 million hectares of denuded forests for development into forest range land
  2. Establishment of pulp timber plantations in 5.4 million hectares that are under marginal agricultural cultivation to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of pulpwood
  3. Selective logging, which ensures natural regeneration of dipterocarp forests, should be strictly enforced
  4. Forest protection has to be more effectively implemented (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980)
As regards fisheries, the study pointed out that:

“Pollution has spoiled our inland waters, especially our rivers. The chief pollutants are mine tailings (wastes from various processes of mining), toxic substances from industries, fertilizers, and pesticides, and domestic wastes. Of 100 major rivers surveyed, 40 were found polluted in varying degrees. Thus, pollution control measures should be enforced to keep our inland fisheries productive (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980).

In 2010, the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, 30 years after the publication of the PREPF report, the problem that we are facing is getting worse:

“Of the 15.9 million hectares of forestland, only 6.43 million hectares or 41 percent were still forested in 2003, a significant decline from the 17 million hectares recorded in the 1930s.

The quality of land resources has deteriorated steadily because of erosion, pollution and land conversion.

The productivity of the country’s coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass, and algal beds and fisheries is declining at an alarming rate.

The degradation of the environment aggravates the impacts of disasters and climate change. Deforestation increases the chances of landslides. The risk of drought and poor availability of water are aggravated by the loss of forest cover. Depleted mangrove reserves deprive coastal communities of natural protection from storm surges. Uncontrolled urban growth coupled with poor land use planning results in encroachment on protected forests or danger zones like riverbanks (NEDA, PDP 2011-2016: 2011).”

So we ask the questions: What went wrong? Where are we going? What we must do?

This part of the paper proposes some development strategies through science and technology for the sustainable management of environment and natural resources.

The first strategy has something to do with a clear, ambitious, challenging, inspiring, but-must-be achieved vision. Let me provide context to this point.

The sectoral goal of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is “Sustainable Management of Environment and Natural Resources” as contribution to the societal goals, namely: Improved Quality of Life and Sustainable Development. Under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, the three (3) medium-term goals are:
  1. Goal 1 - Improved Conservation, Protection and Rehabilitation of Natural Resources
  2. Goal 2 - Improved Environmental Quality for a Cleaner and Healthier Environment
  3. Goal 3 - Enhanced Resilience of Natural Systems and Improved Adaptive Capacities of Human Communities to Cope with Environmental Hazards Including Climate- Related Risks 
In 1977, the Philippine Environmental Policy declares that it is a continuing policy of the State to:
·Create, develop, maintain, and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other.
·Fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipino.
·Ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution is quite clear about the role of the State in relation to ENR. Article II, Section 16 provides that the “State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”.

In the case of Oposa vs. Factoran (The Children’s Case), the Supreme Court of the Philippines defined the meaning of the phrase "rhythm and harmony of nature.” The Court said:

“Nature means the created world in its entirety. Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations  (G.R. No. 101083).”

If we measure our performance in terms of the use of words and phrases, I humbly submit that we are good, but not good enough.

The first strategy, therefore, is to choose our ENR future, as our PREFP study showed.

Let us go back to the basics. What do we want us human beings? Productive land, healthy flora and fauna, clean air and clean water. As Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr. said during his acceptance speech as he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, we need CPR for our natural endowments: Conservation, Protection and Rehabilitation! 

But what is our vision as a society? Can we say at least 54% forest cover by 2050, at least class C inland waters by 2060, 100% rehabilitated land by 2070?

These goals and targets are difficult, but they are necessary if we are to build a better Philippines for the succeeding generations.

The second strategy is related to the findings and recommendations of Robert Watson, Michael Crawford and Sara Farley in a World Bank Policy Research Working Paper entitled “Strategic Approaches to Science and Technology in Development”. The main argument of their paper is this:

 “…development will increasingly depend on a country’s ability to understand, interpret, select, adapt, use, transmit, diffuse, produce and commercialize scientific and technological knowledge in ways appropriate to its culture, aspirations and level of development.”

In relation to this strategy, let me share with you our experience at the Academy.

In 1999, we had a partnership with the private sector, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), and government agencies like the DENR, DOST, PHILRICE, and DOE to assess the feasibility of using rice hull as fuel for electricity generation. We selected an off-grid barangay in Nueva Ecija where a group of farmers were into rice farming. After our team has studied the characteristics of rice hull, its volume, location, etc., an entrepreneur visited the project site and offered to buy carbonized rice hull from the farmers for about PHP25.00 per kilogram. Sensing a good opportunity to earn income, the farmers asked PHILRICE for help. To assist the farmers, PHILRICE fabricated a simple technology to produce carbonized rice hull. Thus, our project had to change course, support the farmers, and explain to the funding agency what happened.

It took us at DAP another ten years to realize a waste-to-energy project, specifically using rice hull and waste plastic. This time, the project is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme-International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP-IETC). The development strategy of UNEP is simple: gather data, choose the technology, pilot it in a community, and learn from it.

The rice mill-cum-water pump uses rice hull, which is the by-product of the milling process. It is now used by the Bohol Farmers’ Cooperative. To complete the package, we also provided a training program for the cooperative farmers on how to produce and use biologically indigenous microorganisms (BIMs), especially for the rapid composting of rice straw.

Another project that UNEP supported using the same strategy is the waste plastic-to-fuel project. This pilot demonstration project refers to the use of waste plastics and other biomass to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF). RDF is produced by pelletizing waste plastics and other biomass materials that have high calorific value. The technology that was adopted is extrusion, with the extruder machine fabricated by a local technology provider. The project is now operated by the City Government of Cebu.

We proposed three models to replicate these pilot projects.

Model 1: Public-Private Enterprise Model

The public-private enterprise strategy is the partnership of the public sector with entrepreneurs who are committed to providing alternative but ecological ways of managing solid waste. This model us supported by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which provides that LGUs should include in their plans the specific measures that will promote the participation of the private sector in the management of solid wastes, particularly in the generation and development of the essential technologies for solid waste management. It also encourages the LGUs to provide incentives for the involvement of the private sector in solid waste management. 

Model 2: Public-Private Partnership Model

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model is an approach by which the private sector invests in technologies with the clear intention of recovering the cost of investment and realizing a reasonable margin. As an economic instrument for solid waste management, LGUs can purposively formulate local policies that will encourage small-scale rice millers to use rice hull to run rice mills. As regards the rapid composting of rice straw, the LGUs can enter into a partnership agreement with the farmers themselves, whether as individuals, village association, or as cooperatives. LGUs should also formulate local policies that will discourage or penalize the burning of rice straw, as well as encourage the farmers or their associations to use BIMs for rapid composting.

Model 3: Public-Corporate Social Responsibility Model

Local government units (LGUs) can partner with industrial and commercial establishments, both within or outside their territorial jurisdictions, to support farmers’ associations and cooperatives to engage in the use of rice hull for rice milling or water pumping, as well as the use of BIMs for the rapid composting of rice straw. Under this model, firms or corporations can provide technical and financial support to farmers associations or cooperatives that are willing to use the technology. The LGUs can provide the support mechanism, such as training of the farmers, as well as technical inputs on organic farming through the local agricultural office.

Another project that we implemented in partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and various government agencies, including the DENR, is piloting few models of biodigester for pig farms. The development strategy is simple: get community partners, construct a biodigester according to specifications, choose the technology that requires the least cost, and demonstrate and measure performance. The local partners that we have engaged in this project are capable of constructing biodigesters for other organizations or individuals who are interested to reap the benefits of the technology.

At this time, Buklod-Unlad Cooperative is constructing biodigesters for its cooperative members. This week, they will hold a Farmers’ Day, with the Governor of Batangas Province leading the guests from other partner institutions.

There are some important lessons that we have learned from the project cases that I have shared with you earlier. These are as follows:
  1. Choose your local or community partners well. Our experience with Buklod-Unlad shows that mature grassroots organizations have better capability to continue an intervention and maximize the benefits that they gain from it.
  2. Make sure that a development intervention will create value to the partner-beneficiaries. This means that an intervention or scientific study is responsive to a clear and pressing need of the community.
  3. Clarity of expected results can lead to success, but ensure that partners have ownership of such results.
  4. The technical soundness of an intervention is critical. We should do things right the first time.
In closing, I wish to recall what Dr. Corpuz said about the PREFP Report. As a political economist, he saw the need to include a scenario on the political system. He said:

“…the PREPF team assumed no important political changes into the year 2000. It is as if the PREFP scenario projected martial law continuing over the next generation; or that it assumes politics to have no effect on our future. These assumptions are not just tenable” (DAP, UPPI, UPSE: 1980).

The character of our political system will continue to have an influence in our development strategies through science and technology for the sustainable management of natural resources. In their book “Why Nations Fail, The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”, Daron  Acemoglu and James A. Robinson argue that:

“Nations fail economically because of extractive institutions. These institutions keep poor countries poor and prevent them from embarking on a path to economic growth…the basis of these institutions is an elite who design economic institutions in order to enrich themselves and perpetuate their power at the expense of the vast majority of people in society” (Acemoglu and Robinson: 2013.)

Dr. Ben Malayang, in an article he wrote for the book “Making Sense of the Millennium Development Goals, An Alternative Perspective by Civil Society” said:

“Governance, or the body of decisions and actions that direct human behavior toward a rational and virtuous use of material and social assets of society, is the lynchpin of sus­tainable development. But in the Philippines, issues on governance are inhibiting rational and virtuous behavior toward improving the harmony and integration of economic, envi­ronmental, and social concerns in development” (Philippine Sustainability Watch Network: 2005).

The pork barrel funds issue is a clear example of the effects of political institutions. But I will not pre-empt what strategies you will use to address the challenge posed by our political institutions in relation to environment and natural resources management. As Sixto K. Roxas wrote in the same book:

“All the external trappings of material progress that has changed the landscape of Metro Manila and our major cities have been judged empty of substantive benefits for the majority of the people.

The overarching purpose is to try and get an awareness of the roots of the problem so that a genuine “turnaround” can be achieved, and to provide a framework that serves as an authentic map towards a sustainable development path. We seem to keep repeating the same mistakes. How can we pull ourselves together so we can begin to address the roots of our problem? (Philippine Sustainability Watch Network: 2005)

Much as I am tempted to answer that question, the topic you have assigned to me today precludes me to give in to the temptation.

So let me end my presentation with the words of a famous broadcaster based in Mindanao. I use this quote because the influence of the political system on ENR implies that we have to be involved, somehow, in conscientizing our people.

Ang lungsod nga nasayod maoy makahatag ug kusog sa demokrasya, apan ang lungsod nga mapasagaron maoy makapukan sa atong kagawasan. (An informed citizenry will strengthen democracy, but an uncaring citizenry will destroy our freedom).

Maraming salamat po.

References Cited

Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robins. Why Nations Fail, The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. Crown Business: New York, 2013

Development Academy of the Philippines, UP Population Institute, UP School of Economics. ­Probing Our Futures: The Philippines 2000 A.D. PREPF: Metro Manila, Philippines, 1980.

Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. et al (G.R. No. 101083) available at

Philippine Sustainability Watch Network. Making Sense of the Millennium Development Goals, An Alternative Perspective by Civil Society. 2005

Republic of the Philippines. Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. National Economic Development Authority: Pasig City, 2011

Republic of the Philippines. The 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Republic of the Philippines. Presidential Decree No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy). 1977

Robert Watson, Michael Crawford and Sara Farley. Strategic Approaches to Science and Technology in Development. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3026, April 2003

§ Presented by Alan S. Cajes, vice president of the Development Academy of the Philippines-Center for Sustainable Human Development as an Opening Lecture of the workshop participated in by the officials and staff of the DENR- Research Sector comprised of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau based in Los Banos, Laguna and the Ecosystems Research and Development Services in 16 regions nationwide. The 4-day workshop, which aims to review and discuss the RDE thrusts and directions for FY 2014 and onwards, was held on 17-20 September 2013 at Lima Park Hotel, Malvar, Batangas, Philippines.