In the first session entitled “Introduction to Community Architecture and Participatory Design Process,” Dr. Rei Shiraishi, architect and assistant professor at YU, welcomed the participants by explaining the background and context of the Co-Creation Workshop which falls under the first phase (capacity-building) of a bigger project supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The workshop outputs shall feed into the second phase (community design development) and eventually into the third phase (knowledge management and network building). Mr. Ruel Orcajada, TAMPEI Partnerships Coordinator, briefly provided the profile of five people’s
organizations (POs) that will be part of the project specifically during the second phase. These POs are:
1) Samahang Magkakapitbahay ng Munting Nayon, Inc. (SMMNI) in Brgy. Pututan, Muntinlupa City;
2) Del Rosario Compound Neighborhood Association, Inc. (DRCNAI) in Brgy. Coloong I, Valenzuela City;
3) Mira North Homeowners’ Association (MNHOA) in Brgy. 180, Caloocan City;
4) Flores Springville Homeowners’ Association (FSHOA) in Brgy. 175, Camarin, Caloocan City; and
5) Payatas San Gabriel Neighborhood Association (PASAGANA) in Brgy. Payatas A, Quezon City.
Facilitated by TAMPEI community architect Louie Posadas, the first session covered four topics, starting off with “Urban Poverty and Housing the Poor in the Philippines” given by Dr. Melissa Navarra, executive director of JHF and assistant professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU). Dr. Navarra first defined poverty and in relation demonstrated the housing situation in the Philippines. She then narrated the timeline of the Philippine government’s default response to informal settlements which historically involved slum clearance through demolition, eviction, and off-site relocation. Building on this, architect and environmental planner Maria Lourdes “May” Domingo-Price, executive director of LB, deep-dived into the “What’s and Why’s of Participatory Processes” and emphasized the uniqueness of each community, thus reminding that there is no one way of doing participatory housing design process which she called responsible, transformative and fun.
In connection, Dr. Kenichi Tanoue, an architect and vice president and professor at KU, conveyed the poetica of “Participatory Design Principles” by presenting three case studies in Japan that embody such. For him, participation is a social space where no one is left behind and that housing is a process, a verb and not an object or a noun. Capping off the lectures was TAMPEI community architect Emelyn Bermundo who bridged “Community Architecture and the Role of Technical Professionals” by describing the field as a movement that advocates for a democratic system, inclusivity and participation of community members in planning, design and decision-making with regards to issues concerning their built environment. Talking from experience, she distinguished community architecture from conventional architecture and reflected that in the former, the architect is merely a facilitator of the design process.
After the four lectures, the participants were given time to ask questions and share their takeaways during the open forum. The first session concluded with a graphical synthesis provided by Mr. Vincent Eugenio, advocacy and communications manager of JHF.
Ruel Orcajada of TAMPEI first gave a recap of the previous session before turning over the virtual floor to TAMPEI president Carla “Kai” Santos who facilitated the second session themed “Inclusive Housing Development from Social Preparation to Project Implementation” which covered five topics.
The first three topics focused on the social processes of people’s planning. Guiding the participants through the “Social Preparation,” Ms. Luz Malibiran, executive director of Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), explained the stages of people’s planning process from community integration and profiling; visioning; planning and housing proposal development; assembly and validation; partnering and negotiation; community-managed housing project implementation; and moving in and estate management. Her presentation was immediately followed by Dr. Navarra’s topic on “Socio-economic Profiling” where she identified participatory research as an approach and not as a research method and where “new knowledge” is produced collectively rather than individually. Then, she shared the lessons in the conduct of paperless socio-economic profiling in Southville 7, Calauan, Laguna and communicated its outcomes that resulted in the development of projects and fostering of partnerships. The participatory data gathering process was seconded by Ms. Ruby Haddad, national coordinator of the Homeless People’s Federation Philippines, Inc. (HPFPI), in her talk about “Property Acquisition through Community Process” where she related their land acquisition experience as member of the Ang Payatas Scavengers Homeowners’ Association, Inc. (APSHAI). She reminisced about some of the challenges they faced such as the lack of technical knowledge among community members, the lack of guidance from technical professionals in assessing land, and the lack of support from the government in securing permits and licenses. Ultimately, she underscored the importance of community organizing and collective savings program in overcoming these challenges.
Responding to these challenges were the fourth and fifth topics. In his presentation about “Architectural Design and Planning: A Collaboration between Community and Technical Professionals,” Ar. Christopher Ebreo, then-executive director of TAMPEI, talked about the participatory approach as both a tool and a process. In this approach, mutual learning takes place. For instance, people draw their dream community and dream houses in the site development planning and housing design workshops facilitated by technical professionals who afterwards provide their technical inputs to the workshop outputs so as to adhere to the socialized and economic housing standards required by the law. In relation, architect and environmental planner Villa Mae Libutaque-Ebreo, project development and coordination manager of LB, discussed “Community’s Participation in Project Implementation.” She enumerated the various stages of project implementation (from project set-up and procurement to site layout, construction, turn-over, and finally, estate management) and reiterated the need to enhance the skills of community members through technical training.
After the open forum, Mr. Vince Eugenio of JHF gave the graphical synthesis of the second session.
For the third session, Ruel Orcajada of TAMPEI again reviewed the topics covered in the previous session before passing the online facilitation to Ms. Deanna Ayson, member of the TAMPEI Board of Trustees. Themed “Experiences on Participatory Housing Processes and Sustainable Community Strategies in Japan and the Philippines,” the third session had four speakers.
Dr. Shunsuke Yokohama, emeritus professor from the Osaka City University, discussed “Participatory Public Housing Designs in Japan” through the case of Nishikatamachi Public Housing Complex in Yatsushiro City in which the residents, architects and the government altogether participated in the housing reconstruction process. The participatory nature of the project contributed to its smooth progress and in particular, to the development of a sense of pride and ownership in their homes among the local residents. The Japanese experience was contrasted with the Philippine experience on “People’s Plan Design for High-Density Housing” as narrated by architect Rei Shiraishi, assistant professor at the Yamaguchi University. First, she reviewed the evolution of social housing policies in the Philippines and its corresponding issues, and then detailed the P50B housing fund approved during the Aquino administration in terms of budget utilization and housing design options specifically that of the High Density Housing (HDH) of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). However, she noted that this initiative took over six years due to the lack of support from the local government, unavailability of land, and the complex and tedious permitting processes.
The third lecture, given by Dr. Kazuo Asahiro, associate professor at Kyushu University, focused on “Community Greening and Landscaping.” He cited Fukuoka City as his primary example for having its own design code for greening and landscaping as well as other initiatives such as training of “green coordinators” and local food cycling activities. The last lecture on “Social Enterprise Development and Sustainable Livelihood” was provided by Mr. Vincent Eugenio of JHF who emphasized the need to form cooperatives and social enterprises to address the scarcity of livelihood and work opportunities in off-city resettlement sites. With this, he identified and explained the three steps in social enterprise development, which are: 1) asset mapping; 2) asset mobilization; and 3) asset management.
The lectures were followed by an open forum facilitated by Ms. Deanna Ayson of TAMPEI and a visual synthesis provided by Dr. Melissa Navarro of JHF.
Sessions 4 and 5
The last two sessions of the Co-Creation Workshop aimed to provide the participants first-hand experience, albeit virtual, working with grassroots organizations in their housing development needs. Themed “Community-Driven Development: Action Planning with People’s Organizations,” the fourth session in the morning started with a recap of the previous session given by Ruel Orcajada of TAMPEI. This was followed by a quick rundown of the workshop mechanics. The workshop secretariat pre-grouped the participants into five, making sure that each group consisted of community leaders and technical professionals with varied expertise. In this way, each group will be able to co-develop solutions for the respective issues faced by the partner community assigned to them. A facilitator and a documenter were assigned for each group. The groups’ discussions were documented using the workshop template provided.
For the fifth session in the afternoon, each group was given 20 minutes to report the workshop outputs. The presentations covered the status of the project (from social preparation and land acquisition to architectural planning and design) and the proposed project timeline. Participants from other groups were invited to throw in their questions and inputs to the reports. Below are the highlights of each presentation:
Group 1: Ms. Maricel Deculawan of PASAGANA, Quezon City shared the claimant issues on Lots 18 and 19. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the local government unit has not taken any action yet on this matter. At present, the organization has not scheduled the conduct of the housing design yet due to the land issues.
Group 2: Ar. Christopher Ebreo of TAMPEI reported on behalf of Del Rosario Compound in Valenzuela City. He mentioned the community’s main issue about the rising water level since the community is situated in water. With this, the community’s decision to landfill or not must be carefully evaluated relative to other sustainable options that may be available. Reblocking process will begin after this dilemma has been worked out.
Group 3: Ms. Jermelyn Penalosa of Munting Nayon Community in Muntinlupa City discussed that the community is planning for the redevelopment of the 1,000 sqm property. Since the location is certified safe by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the community can build a four-storey structure. Ground floor will be allotted for livelihood initiatives while the uppermost floor will serve as a common space for gardening and hanging clothes.
Group 4: Ms. Renea Serana of Flores Springville HOA in Caloocan City communicated that the socio-economic profiling and the HOA’s loan application to the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) is already ongoing. Also, the HOA needs geotechnical assessment due to the presence of a creek and some low-lying areas on the site.
Group 5: Mr. Renato of Mira North HOA in Caloocan City shared that the HOA is already in the pre-takeout stage for the land acquisition. For the loan application, the community needs to finalize their site development plan and housing design. Their target is to submit all the requirements to SHFC by December. With this, the timeline is quite hurried
To wrap up the Co-Creation Workshop, Dr. Melissa Navarra of JHF gave the synthesis, providing the acronym of “PLANS”: P-articipation, L-and, A-daptive capacities, N-ew approaches and S-paces. Then, she went over the five cases and articulated the concerns of each community. Taking all these into account, she shared the following insights:
1. People’s plan requirements are of different levels;
2. Unity and solidarity among the residents are evident in all cases but at different weights;
3. Interface of local knowledge and preferences with technical experts’ knowledge and skills is demonstrated;
4. HOA partnership with LGUs, technical experts, NGOs and private sector is underscored;
5.Designs articulate the need of the vulnerable sectors in the community, desire economic mobilityand promote a vibrant community; and
6.Realistic project timeline is apparent during or after land acquisition.
Assistant professor Rei Shiraishi added that this workshop series proved to her again that leaders know best for their communities. The technical professionals can help the communities in tackling their issues. She conveyed that she is looking forward to more collaborations. Also, Dr. Kenichi Tanoue thanked the participants for their active participation. Lastly, architect Christopher Ebreo congratulated the participants for finishing the workshop series and thanked them for their time and effort. He urged the participants to spread the advocacy of the participatory process in the housing design. After that, he thanked the community leaders and fellow organizers for their support.