Ph bukidnon sumilao alalumfallscould be a job for incoming VP Robredo. Never mind that Duterte does not want her in the Cabinet. She is planning to save money by not using the Coconut Palace, set up Branch Offices and use the Vice Presidential funds for projects of her own. It could be a continuation of the grassroots work she has done before, would not grab any existing work from any Cabinet members or local officials. In fact her being in a central role now could help her coordinate things needed from Manila by the countryside.

People often prefer to live where their roots are, not to have to leave for the city or even abroad to make a proper living for themselves or their families. Germany prospers because none of its cities are too big – Berlin has only around 3,5 million people as opposed to the over 15 million in Metro Manila. Too big cities tend to become hard to manage, especially in poorer countries. Nowadays one does not have to be cut off from basic amenities anymore if transport and communications are there, as well as a certain livelihood. How can Leni Robredo help in this?

The Sumilao farmers come to mind (link) – who were helped by Leni Robredo, and supported her in return. A simple but good life can be preferable to the stress of urban life and hypermodernity. Around 1/5 of Filipinos live in Metro Manila. A city facing rising sea levels, potential water scarcity and enormous traffic problems. And some who are frustrated, living in slums next to hypermodern luxury, may add to problems like crime and drugs.

Some industrial zones already exist outside Manila like Sto. Tomas, Batangas (link) – Duterte wants to do more to build zones of that kind which is a good thing. Maybe spread them around other urban centers, not only the already congested areas around Manila, which for me even include Calabarzon and the Clark/Subic areas. There are cities like Cebu, Iloilo, General Santos, Davao etc.

Real countryside development could be exemplified by Albay, which was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve (link). The balance of urban and rural is important for any country. For so many things – food security, preserving some traditions inspite of inevitable modernity, and even providing a refuge from the madding crowds of the cities once in a while. I have seen how Germany has managed this balance while progressing. This is where incoming VP Robredo is well-suited to play a major role – together with the civic society organizations she has worked with before.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 2 June 2016