OpenMarawi.com

 

How should Marawi be rebuilt? For whom? And with whom?

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This is what the last few months have come to.

  1. All available statistical and geospatial data on Marawi and Lanao del Sur have been uploaded on www.openmarawi.com. Free, open source, and to be constantly updated in the coming weeks.
  2. Almost a year after the Siege and six months after the last bomb fell on the city,  Assad Baunto, David Garcia, and I have finally released a policy note summarizing options for decision-making on land, housing, property, and urban design. Maps were made with JR Dizon, Mikko Tamura, Bj Bantog Gochoco, Ysmael Mangorsi, and representatives from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Download briefer here: https://goo.gl/iRYXkS

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Thank you to the many jedis in government, the academe, and civil society who made this possible, along with The Asia Foundation and DFAT-Australia.

To the leadership of the city government of Marawi, the provincial government of Lanao del Sur, and the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao–my deepest gratitude for letting us outsiders work with you.

UrbanisMO: Ano ang plano mo?

I’ll be co-hosting a conversation around urban issues in the Philippines with fellow miscreants David Garcia, Robert Anthony Siy, Abbey Pangilinan, and Prof. Chester Arcilla in a month’s time. Not gunning for anything too fancy. The goal is to get a healthy crowd of practitioner-peers in the room plotting and scheming. Just enough to get something usefully collaborative a-brewing at a time when a vlog isn’t just a vlog, indigenous peoples are getting displaced in the name of progress, and Swiss Challenges are everywhere.

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Massive hat-tip to the folks at Artkitektura, who are co-sponsoring this as a satellite event for the 2018 leg, and will be programming this as part of the British Embassy Manila’s Great British Festival. There’s not much up there at present, but more information will be posted closer to the date over at urbanismo.ph.

(For those who have not been to the 2017 leg of the Artkitektura Festival of Architecture and the Arts, I have an article up on PhilStar.com on the organic/living architecture movement, its applications to the Philippines, and what Sarri et al are trying to revive back here. I am hoping that these are ideas that will gain more traction in the years to come.)

Kitakits, mga kapatid.

Conflict in Cities and the Contested Philippine State: Notes After Marawi

Originally a FB post but migrated here because the maps and photos wouldn’t show.

Dahil ako’y taga Maynila lamang, hanggang mabilisang sulat lang ako. Para sa minamahal na mga kaibigan at katrabahong Meranaw, kung mamarapatin.

It has been over a week since the May 23 Maute Group attack on the Islamic City of Marawi, and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. Skirmishes to clear and control the city are still ongoing. The majority of its 201,785 recorded citizens have since fled on foot, leaving behind combatants, journalists, and the occasional terrified resident trapped in the crossfire or attempting to protect their homes and businesses from looting.

Many questions remain. Was it truly a botched military operation against Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who had purportedly ventured out of Basilan to operate in the mainland, unifying the disaffected under the black flag? Or was it well planned in advance, this scene of least fifty young fighters emerging from Lake Lanao, occupying and damaging key installations—hospitals, churches, university buildings, city hall, the local jail? Was the Chief of Police truly beheaded (despite photos emerging of him appearing alive and with head intact)? Can we call them ISIS or IS-Ranao? Why is Marawi City being shelled? How will the airstrikes affect power dynamics on the ground? Will the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao set the stage for nationwide policy?

What is established is that as of May 31, at least 22 civilians, 30 security personnel and sixty-odd Maute and ASG fighters have been killed. Over 44,000 families have been recorded as displaced across Northern Mindanao, taking uncertain shelter during the Holy Month of Ramadan in evacuation centres and the homes of friends and relatives. Only twenty percent of the metropolitan area has power restored; food in surrounding communities is scarce. Tensions have spilt over to neighbouring towns. It will take weeks before comprehensive damage assessments can be conducted but one wonders if Marawi, with its rich 400-year-old history and its role as the economic, political, and cultural heart of Lanao del Sur, can fully recover.

Mainstream approaches to Mindanao’s peace and conflict situation is through its security or political dimensions, and for the immediate phase, the humanitarian response for the likas (“those who left”, a more culturally-appropriate alternative to bakwit), or internally displaced persons. However, Marawi, and to some extent its predecessor Zamboanga, begs the question: how can we start thinking about peace in terms of how conflict dynamics play out in actual space and place, in the fabric of our communities and cities? Violent state-non state contestation in the Philippines has been largely rural, with a few sporadic exceptions. So does Marawi signal a contemporary turn to urban warfare, similar to many of our Western counterparts? Is urban conflict the next Philippine battleground?

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Continue reading “Conflict in Cities and the Contested Philippine State: Notes After Marawi”

Lupa

Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).

It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)

Continue reading “Lupa”

Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation

Written for PLAN 201, which has been an awesome start to my stay at the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning. The prof is cool enough to let the substantial experience from the class (a good mix of government development workers, architects, engineers and researchers) emerge, while being to frame it theoretically without clamping down on the freewheeling discussions. There have been times where the thought of a cheery Saturday class was enough to get me through a brutal workweek. Gotta brush up on stat, though.

Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation

What comes to mind when discussing spatial theories of regional development such as growth poles (Perroux) and cumulative causation (Myrdal) is the case of Davao City, which is currently the most important development center in Mindanao, and is emerging as a strategic regional growth center, particularly in the context of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

I believe Davao City is a prime example of how development has a tendency to cluster in centers, resulting in major urban concentrations that are key development hubs from a national perspective, and have the potential to play a regional role in the realms of culture, business, and international transport. Its strategic location practically assures this—found in the southeastern tip of the Philippines, Davao is the natural jump-off point for travellers from Northern and Central Mindanao before heading to the Zamboanga Peninsula and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It has also begun to be a gateway to Southern Philippines for international travellers from Southeast Asia and even Australia and the United States.  The last two decades have also seen a boom in Davao City’s economic growth. This can be seen in multiple centers and industries within the city, which as shown in the chart below from the Davao City Planning and Development Office, spans seven growth sectors, which makes good use of its massive 244 hectares (as it is one of the largest cities in the world by area).

Continue reading “Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation”

Space/Place/Sacredness

Originally posted on 5 May 2011 here.

Last week’s grisly events at Laperal Compound prompt me to riff on something near and dear, but is rarely spoken of by fellow Manileños: our relationship to space and place. Not a fan of violence (or the criminal elements taking refuge in such slums), but if someone’d raze my community to the ground and dismantle the boards of my home, then I’d certainly feel like hurling molotovs and shitbombs too. In the midst of the protests, one Laperal Compund leader even said that they’d rather die where they stand than relocate to far-flung Calauan or Montalban, where death is a greater, if slower, certainty: no electricity, water, access to health services, schools. In such conditions, she said, “unti-unti kaming pinapatay ng pamahalaan: magiging libingan na namin ang lupang pagtitirikan namin ([they] are being killed slowly by the state: the land [they’re] cast to will be [their] graves)”. [1]

But what differentiates us middle-class folk from informal settlers anyway? Not much, really. Just the luck of being born into the socioeconomic means of legally owning/renting a home–with its accordant veil of delusion, thinking that our shoebox condominiums and gated subdivisions are somehow better, safer, healthier places. But we’re just as disconnected.

Continue reading “Space/Place/Sacredness”