Island Wilayat Rising? Stemming the tide of violent extremism after Marawi

Thanks to a few twists of fate, I’ve got a short (read: heavily redacted) piece on Marawi  published by the Australian National University’s East Asia Forum. It comes in several weeks later than I’d like, but at any rate, I’m posting here an earlier unedited and less circumspect version, written roughly two, three weeks ago.

Marawi was a victory for Islamist extremism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The next choices taken by the Philippine government will determine the extent of its spread.

 

It has been more than sixty days since the outbreak of violence in the Islamic City of Marawi, just over 500 miles south of Manila, and kilometre zero of the island-region of Mindanao. What started in the morning of May 23 has led to over 314,000 persons displaced. More than half of the lakeside city is in ruins; approximately 100 civilians and hostages are still trapped in the crossfire. Aerial bombardments and house-to-house fighting continue. As the first widespread incident of urban violence in the Philippines—its partial precursors being Zamboanga in 2013, Ipil in 1995 and the razing of Jolo in 1974—the impact of the Marawi siege is unprecedented, not least in its implications to the rise of violent extremism in the region.

While the reported death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi and the jihadi group’s losses at Mosul and Raqqa signal a transformation of Daesh presence in the Middle East, Marawi by all accounts was a victory for islamist terrorism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. From a ragtag group of ‘black flag wannabes’ that could barely stage a bomb attack on the US Embassy in Manila in 2016, the Maute group now has enough street cred to attract international interest and support. They have achieved what others have failed to do: signal to the disgruntled and marginalised that violent extremism, particularly through urban warfare, is a viable path forward.

Continue reading “Island Wilayat Rising? Stemming the tide of violent extremism after Marawi”

Inahan sa Sugilanon: Mother of the Fairytale

So happy that Louise has finally birthed this beautiful photobook, which has been a work in progress for the better part of the last three years. I’ve got quite a few personal projects waiting in the wings right now, but there are few things more inspiring than being a creative komadrona. 🙂

12087039_812186805545164_3290687468219889598_o

Inahan sa Sugilanon: Mother of the Fairytale
Birthing a Green School Community

Images and Essay by Louise Far
Essays by Willa P. Maglalang, Janneke “Nex” Agustin and Nicanor Perlas
Essays edited by Ica Fernandez

Mother of the Fairytale is a 56-paged 8in x 10in book composed of 26 black and white images that tells the story of how a striving green school community in Davao City, Philippines advocates healthy and holistic education. It gives a glimpse of the journey of the school’s first teachers, the daily challenges and triumphs of little children, and the emerging sense of space and community among parents and friends of the school. Also included in the book are relevant essays on the book project itself, the experience of initiating Tuburan, early manifestations of holistic education through the story of Steiner education in the Philippines, and a macro perspective on education and the true need it must address.

http://motherofthefairytale.weebly.com/

Embracing Community-Managed Primary Healthcare

Spent a few weeks with Dr. Moon Maglana to help document the wonderful work that AKKAP (Alternatibong Katilingbanong Kalambo-ang Panglawas) has been doing in a fair chunk of North Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon and the Davao Peninsula since 1997. The attached PDF was written in order to be shared with partners at an anthroposophic medical conference in Dornach, Switzerland, but all this material could easily be turned into a book or manual of the amazing things they’ve been doing sans external funding, without fanfare. English is a necessary evil for external readers, but we need more materials in Tagalog and Cebuano for community users. I wish I could have more time to work with them.

Someday.

AKKAP Profile (10 Sept 2013 rev) small

On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking

Written for PLAN 210. Unfortunately I seem to have waylaid the diagram mentioned here–maybe I can get around to resketching it, someday.

__

One emerging challenge for local governments is disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), or the need to holistically respond to extreme climate events that increasingly pose threats to life and property. This can be seen in the recent experience of Typhoon Pablo, which completely devastated many municipalities in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao. As per the 17 January 2013 report of the DSWD Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office (DRRROO), a total of total of 504,857 families with 2.2 million persons have been affected in 2,631 barangays, 292 municipalities, 35 cities, 33 provinces in 10 regions, with particular emphasis on Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and some parts of the Caraga Region. Although the onslaught of said typhoon was experienced as a single event (cited as a once-in-a-century storm) that has direct linear effects, further analysis of the situation reveals complex cyclical cause-effect patterns that must be factored into any plan of action.

Continue reading “On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking”

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”