Reviews, Rants, Raves and 'Riginal Stuff by Raymond Virata

Monday, August 07, 2006

Another Hundred Years Hence

Okay, if you've noticed I haven't been posting lately, no fear. I now write for a legitimate publication. I'm mainstream now. I've sold out to "The Man." I currently write the "Web Watch" column for Filipinas Magazine, which I also work for as art director. At "Web Watch," I recommend websites which might interest our Filipino readers. Last July, I wrote about Benjie dela Peña's blog "Another Hundred Years Hence" (he's my kabarkada), which talks about Urban Planning. I like because it's so focused on one thing, has a lot of links (it's so anal, which I like about websites like these) and offers solutions (which a lot of stuff out there is just complain, complain, complain). If your website is so anal (no hairy butt shots please), I may recommend it.

Another Hundred Years Hence

While most blogs list a litany of never-ending rants by armchair pundits, Benjamin dela Peña’s (a.k.a. Urbano dela Cruz) "Another Hundred Years Hence" ( serves as a forum for discussing solutions to socioeconomic problems in the Philippines and possible changes through urban planning. His blog’s title is a take-off from Filipino patriot Jose Rizal’s 1889 essay "The Philippines a Century Hence."

Dela Peña cracks open a claypot of ideas as he discusses topics such as the Land Use Code, Rent Control in the Philippines, building action networks and adapting Prof. John Kotter’s model of change for improving the quality of life in Metro Manila. He even posted a little “Here” quiz to see how well we know our surroundings. Here are some questions:

1) What is the largest flowing body of water (creek or river) in your neighborhood? What direction does it flow?

2) Can you name at least five small retail or service establishments (sari-sari or grocery store, laundry, coffee shop, drug store, etc.) closest to your house?

3) How many modes of public transportation (bus, jeep, tricyle, pedicab, etc.) are available in your baranggay (town)? What are the major routes?

4) What’s the nearest public open space to your home? (Is it a park?)

5) Other than your relatives, if you needed urgent help, whom would you run to in your neighborhood?

Dela Peña is the associate director for implementation of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps local governments implement alternative and more sustainable development patterns. "My current job has me working in the space between politics and policy implementation, which is basically leadership in local governments," he says.

He came to the U.S. in 2002 to get his masters in urban planning at Harvard University. In Manila, he was in charge of Ayala Corporation’s national youth leadership program.

"I wanted to start a discussion on Philippine urban issues. All of the prominent Pinoy blogs talk about national politics and no one was talking about the condition of our cities and what we can do to improve our cities."

"I hope the conversation I started can at least help Pinoys think differently about Metro Manila, help them recognize that our problems are not unique and that we share the same challenges facing other megacities and that there is so much room for innovation."

His blog has a growing following among those concerned about the quality of life back home. Ernesto Sonido, Jr., an information editor at Financial Times Electronic Publishing in Makati, comments that it is "informative about urban issues and solutions, but he does not update as frequently as I would like."

Carlos Celdran, artist and Manila walking-tour guide, says, "It’s a great blog. Not often do you see someone so thrilled about something like urban planning. Also, from someone so far away from the city of his focus. I look forward to him coming back to Manila after his studies and applying over here what he learned. Perhaps it won’t be any time soon but when the day comes, Manila will be a better place for it."


Anonymous Alan said...

This is fantastic to see. We have similar problems where I live in Indonesia Bali and surrounding Island.
I hope that it comes your way for you!
Happy Surfing

2:58 AM

Anonymous Marty said...

Yes, I agree with you. A good wakeup call is needed. i actually employ som people in this country and pay them above award for work well done!
Marty from WBC World Boardriders Club

3:00 AM


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