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).

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