May 2018
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Even Housing Projects

Trees4SaleBNativitasXochiin Germany have trees in them. This struck me looking at the projects occupied by Kadamay. They remind me of refugee camps over here in Germany. Except that refugee camps in Germany are usually container-based and not intended to be permanent settlements. And not intended for locals, while Filipinos are nasty to their own people. Forbes Park is in another world. There one cannot hear the traffic. Trees all over. Even UP has trees all over. Good thing I guess, imagine tropical sun frying those brains?

When I see Facebook photos of Filipinos very relaxed in their summer break, as it is summer there now close to Holy Week, I see them surrounded by nature and at home. Many living in Manila seem to feel genuinely at home only in their home provinces – if they are fortunate enough still to have them. Those living in slums probably don’t have any place to go back to anymore. With the first slums growing after WW2 and accelerating from the 1970s, they are generations removed from their old places.

Even the poor can be content if they have safety and can make a living – and happy if their surroundings are pleasant. Safety was destroyed in many provinces of the Philippines by a de facto civil war lasting for decades – with all sorts of armed groups terrorizing simple folks. Being able to make a living – not really possible for those who did not have at least a little bit of land, or the capital to run a small business. Surroundings – destroyed by mining, by overbuilding? You can’t eat money in the end.

Something in our human nature is programmed to respond positively to nature. We do not naturally take to concrete jungles, where we might feel like apes on Gibraltar. Recently the creeks in Munich were closed for cleaning, dammed up, the water was released against just a few days ago. The clear, fresh water of the creeks of Munich, of the Isar river. Priceless. There are things that matter more than money in the end – starting with our surroundings. Filipinos in Manila have destroyed theirs.

The trajectory of survival can turn into greed easily, wanting to catch up with the neighbors. And at the same time fearing the neighbors who will steal your new mobile – to buy some drugs to make their lives feel less painful for a while? For me, both the addicts in the slums of Manila and the consumerism addicts in its malls are zombies. Maybe the addict might be more able to find happiness under a tree, watching a clean river flow, breathing fresh air? The consumerist might just say – how boooooring!

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 8 April 2017

16 comments to Even Housing Projects

  • karlgarcia

    Gusto ata lahat ibigay sa kanila eh. ( Matagal pa tong issue na to, pero hinto muna ako)

  • karlgarcia

    One one hand, I am glad that there is now a “win-win solution” ,on the other hand I still see the stunt pulled by kadamay as a bad precedent and a recepe for further disaster.

    NHA to ‘reaward’ houses to Kadamay members

    “SENATE INQUIRY National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. and other officials attend a hearing called by a Senate committee looking into the occupation of government housing sites by informal settlers. —LYN RILLON

    Congress will come out with a joint resolution allowing the National Housing Authority (NHA) to “reaward” more than 50,000 unoccupied housing units intended for military and police personnel to four sectors, that included informal settlers like members of the urban poor group Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap).

    At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said he would not want to live in the government housing units after seeing these for himself.

    The housing program for the military and police has not attracted the beneficiaries because they found the homes too small—a floor area of 22 square meters (sqm) on a 36-sqm lot (which cost P175,000) and a floor area of 18-27 sqm on a 40-sqm lot (P208,000), according to NHA officials.

    Sen. JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, noted that the international standard for housing was 7 sqm per person.

    “That 22-sqm house is only good for three persons,” he said.

    Military and police representatives at the hearing said the NHA had not consulted them on the design and planning of the houses and were only told of the affordable housing program for them.


    Administrative Order No. 9, issued in 2011, directed the NHA to build permanent housing sites for low-salaried members of the military and police and in this case, the three lowest ranks.

    Escalada said of the 66,184 houses built by the NHA for soldiers and policemen all over the country, only 8,240 houses had been occupied.

    Escalada admitted that the government housing for the military and police was a “failure” given the low occupancy.

    He said the NHA was proposing the building of bigger houses, doubling the size of the lots from 40 sqm to 80 sqm.

    The NHA head then urged Congress to grant him the “legislative authority” to reaward the housing units.

    Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez said at the hearing he had filed House joint Resolution No. 11 “authorizing the NHA to award the unoccupied and unawarded housing units to other qualified functionaries.”

    Ejercito said at least 5,000 of the houses that were occupied by Kadamay on March 8 in Pandi town and San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan would be given to members of the group as earlier announced by President Duterte.

    Ejercito said it would be up to the NHA to distribute the houses.

    Win-win solution

    “It’s still a win-win solution since Kadamay opened up the eyes of everyone to the gravity of the problem of the housing sector,” Ejercito told reporters after he led a hearing on Kadamay’s occupation of the units intended for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

    “My only concern here is that I hope this would not be a bad precedent,” he said.

    The hearing was called days after Mr. Duterte announced he would give for free the housing units in Bulacan to Kadamay members, whose only sin, he said, was being poor.

    The President promised to build better houses for members of the police and the military by December.”

  • karlgarcia

    very original idea from senator JV Ejercito. 😉

    March 24, 2017 By DWIZ 882 0 21

    Aminado si Senador JV Ejercito na may malaking kakulangan ang gobyerno sa pamamahagi ng mga housing project.
    Ayon kay Ejercito, mabagal din ang pamamahagi ng mga natapos na pabahay kaya’t umabot na sa 5.5 Million ang backlog.
    Sa nasabing bilang anya ay kailangang mamahagi ng isa punto dalawang milyong pabahay upang mabawasan ang malaking pagkukulang o nasa 300,000 housing unit ang dapat  ipamahagi sa mga mahirap na walang bahay kada taon.
    Pinayuhan naman ni Ejercito ang grupong KADAMAY na unawain ang gobyerno lalo’t kumikilos naman ito upang maging maayos ang programa sa pabahay at hindi rin maaaring payagan ang iligal na pag-okupa ng mga miyembro ng naturang urban poor group sa mga housing project sa Pandi, Bulacan  na nakalaan para sa mga sundalo at pulis.
    Ipinanukala naman ng Senador ang pagtatatag ng Department of Human Settlement upang mapag-isa ang anim na ahensya ng gobyerno na nakatutok sa housing project at mapabilis ang trabaho.”

  • karlgarcia

    From Manny Villar, a low cost housing pioneer.

    A social volcano waiting to erupt

    There is no question that the Philippines has a serious, maybe even critical, housing problem: a huge backlog estimated at more than five million to six million units – and with demand continuing to outpace production, the problem will only get worse if not addressed immediately.

    The response, if it is to be effective, should be appropriate with the magnitude and urgency of the problem. Unfortunately, the problem has not received the right solution and attention it needs.

    The takeover of idle housing projects in Bulacan that were intended for soldiers and policemen by members of a militant group last month is an example of how serious our housing problem has become.

    Last March 8, an estimated 5,000 people, including members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) occupied about 4,000 houses in five government housing projects in the town of Pandi and in San Jose del Monte City, claiming they were tired of being neglected by the government.

    Several days later, other members of Kadamay reportedly tried to occupy vacant units in Barangay Bonga Mayor in Bustos town and in Bocaue, both also in Bulacan, and in Rodriguez, Rizal. They were stopped by police and military personnel.

    It is a tragedy that the need for shelter, one of the basic human needs, is driving people to disregard the rule of law.

    I’m not justifying such act, but I think it should jolt and wake up government officials, especially those who are completely ignoring the implications and consequences (one of which was the militant group’s action) of having a huge housing backlog.

    What happened in Pandi and in other towns should be a warning that the social volcano on housing is about to erupt, unless we act decisively.

    But decisive action is something we still have to see. On the contrary, the private sector-led housing industry, which is leading the construction of homes to catch up with growing demand, is being threatened with the loss of incentives and other policy actions, including restrictions on land development. Published reports placed annual production of more than 200,000 units against demand of as high as 800,000 units.

    The threats include the delisting from the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), under which housing developers enjoy tax holidays, tax credits and other non-fiscal incentives. These incentives enable developers to keep housing units affordable.

    Negative policy action, on the other hand, includes restrictions on land development, such as the proposed ban on the conversion of unproductive and unutilized agricultural land into residential and other non-agricultural purposes like the development of industrial zones, which are needed in the industrialization program.

    Promoting agriculture and developing the housing industry need not be in conflict with each other; it is not an either-or situation.

    As I wrote in previous columns, what the agriculture sector needs to increase productivity is technology and not necessarily more planting area. For example, developed countries are now into hydroponics, which does not need soil to cultivate crops. With a more controlled environment, the hydroponics system produces more crops with higher quality.

    The policy threats targeting the housing industry are not only affecting the housing problem, but are also discouraging the private sector from putting in more money into housing. Don’t we need more investments for housing?

    These are clearly the opposite of what should be done to address the housing problem. Luckily, the more economically-minded officials of the administration appreciate the need to develop all sectors of the economy.

    I don’t see any reason why we cannot push both agriculture and housing at the same time – it is a more balanced approach to development, and will benefit the whole country.

  • karlgarcia

    Idle land or vacant lot anagement.
    LGUs must find ownerss and depending size have a lease agreement for parks,parking lots for those with no garages, urban farming use, etc.

  • sonny

    Slap on the forehead, I forgot about this blog installment. Very close to my nationalistic heart too. Please don’t stop talking about this (the importance of park system and forest preserves on Philippine life)) : Karl on the ground in PH, Irineo in Europe, me in US midwest (Chicago, Minneapolis-St Paul, Milwaukee), MRP somewheres in the US. Good stuff all around.

    • No problem – I think that outer well being is very much influenced by inner well being. Do we feel better when our surroundings are clean, the air fresh?

      Do we feel more confident and professional when we are bathed, shaved and dressed going to work, or do we feel like a bum when we are unshaven and unwashed like I am now? There are popular TV shows in Germany that show how coaches start by unmessing the homes of social basket cases, bringing them back into an orderly and productive life..


    from today’s Inquirer by Joel Ruiz Butuyan:

    “Many of the problems that beset Philippine society may be minimized by a plain remedy: the establishment of public parks in every barangay, municipality, city, and province of the country.

    Well-equipped public parks in all our local government units may unlock solutions to the many ills of our society: the prevalence of drug addiction among our youth, the rising health problems of our people resulting from inadequate physical activity, and even the dearth of world-class Filipino athletes.

    Also, the increased human interaction that takes place in public parks will foster a sense of community among our people, enable exchanges of ideas on burning issues that affect our lives, and increase public sensitivity to environmental concerns, among others.”

    • karlgarcia

      Sorry for being a broken record, but I think once landfill mining and reclamation becomes cost effective, there will be lots of room for parks.

      And pass NALUA already.

      • Land use and zoning is extremely important.

        If it weren’t for such laws, Greater Munich might also look like Metro Manila. The economic pressure is there, and there are areas near the former airport to the east of the City that are pretty much a sprawl of (non-gated) subdivisions, industrial estates, roads, one big mall, public housing projects, the trade fair grounds etc. and one hears of some social issues – it all went fast and was noticed a bit late.. even the areas outside the Autobahn Ring around Munich have had a development over the past decades of suburban housing projects or industrial estates encroaching slowly on what used to be agricultural or even forest land – again zoning laws keep that from going too far. There are areas like the huge Ebersberger Forst (forest) with its wild boars (Eber in German) that are totally untouchable, important in keeping city air fresh.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      I suggest parks or plaza or piazzas whatever they call it should revolve around barangay halls or municipal offices or churches. Currently, in most towns piazzas are right there at the municipal halls or churches and barangay halls where people gather, hang-out, keeping up with the goings-on around town or simply a meet-up place and chill because this is where they are safe.

      • In the old Filipino small town the plaza was in front of the church. The layout of towns in the Spanish realm was the same from Mexico City to Legazpi City.

        The issue of feeling safe is important, because indeed spaces outside supervision of the state, church or commercial entities (insides of malls) often become tambayans of groups, sometimes the wrong kind.

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    Housing development designs in the Philippines are just four walls and a tin roof. Build it wherever they want.

    Department of ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL Resources approved these developments without TRAFFIC IMPACT STUDIES nor FIT-FOR-HUMAN habitation house design study. DENR requires subdivisions to set aside 20% of total area to vegetation if it is an expensive development. But if it is low-cost row-houses there is no requirement. DENR can pack them in in 50 sq meter house in extremely hot uncomfortably humid Philippines that requires their workers to wear long sleeves and a tie to man traffic in crazy Metro Manila.

    National ECONOMIC and DEVELOPMENT Authority, whose housing development designs and locations not required approval is not asked if “they build this development would it sustain homeowners to pay their mortgage to find work within commuting distance in the shortest amount of time” question. Is it closer to schools. Does schools have school buses? Does it have incentives for the children to stay in school and parents to send them to for the free-meals of it?

    Let us admit Filipinos have develpmental problems. Not the NEDA & DENR development, up here, right between the eyes development because right there it remains undeveloped if ever it can be developed at all.

    Metro areas of Davao, Cebu and Manila is a sure sign of brain underdevelopment. To this day they have not solved the traffic problem which they always blame the bus and jeepney drivers …. nope, it is not the bus and jeepney drivers. IT IS THE PLANNING and THE POLITICAL WILL TO PLAN THAT REQUIRES BRAIN TO MAKE THE PLAN.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Like what Irineo wrote, Holy Week, long weekends and forced holidays can Filipinos can commune with nature. NOT IN THE CITY but in the provinces WHERE THEY CAME FROM. Because you cannot find nature in the tangled cobwebs of electrical and phone lines of cities anymore except in the provinces where Filipinos can find a brief respite to take in fresh air, to hear the tweeting of birds and a simple peasant breakfast food of suman and tsokolate.

      Are we doomed yet? Are we there? Eventually.

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