Trans­form­ing Cebu into a mega­lopo­lis In­vest­ing in PH

Renowned ur­ban plan­ner’s take on how to make Metro Cebu great

Cebu Daily News - - PROPERTY - by Vic­tor An­thony V. Silva RE­PORTER TRANS­FORM­ING

If given the op­por­tu­nity, world-renowned ar­chi­tect and ur­ban plan­ner Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. would like to trans­form Cebu into a “mega­lopo­lis,” a clus­ter of metropoli­tan ar­eas meant to spread devel­op­ment to the rest of the prov­ince.

Palafox said the mega­lopo­lis will be made up of three ar­eas: the ex­ist­ing Metro Cebu and one ur­ban cen­ter each in the north­ern and south­ern parts of the is­land to act as counter-mag­nets and to bal­ance ur­ban devel­op­ment.

“A me­trop­o­lis is a clus­ter of cities while a mega­lopo­lis is sev­eral metropoli­tan ar­eas. Es­tab­lish­ing ur­ban cen­ters in the north and south com­plete with in­ter­na­tional air­ports, sea­ports and uni­ver­si­ties will help de­con­gest Metro Cebu,” he said in a press con­fer­ence for the launch­ing of the Palafox of­fice here in Cebu on Wed­nes­day.

Founded in 1989, “Palafox Ar­chi­tec­ture and Palafox As­so­ci­ates” has set the bench­mark in the Philip­pine plan­ning, ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign scene.

In the last 28 years, the ar­chi­tec­ture firm has com­pleted more than 1,200 lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional projects which in­clude the mas­ter plan­ning of more than 17 bil­lion square me­ters of land area and the ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign of more than 12 mil­lion square me­ters of build­ing floor area across 39 coun­tries.

Af­ter close to three decades, the group fi­nally opened an of­fice out­side Metro Manila, its first one be­ing in Cebu.

Palafox added that they also plan to open of­fices in Davao, Palawan and Pam­panga in the fu­ture, adding that help­ing these places is also “help­ing Manila.”

Bank­ing on the growth po­ten­tial of Cebu and the rest of the is­lands in the coun­try, Palafox said it is “now time to in­vest in the Philip­pines.”

The mas­ter ur­ban plan­ner pointed out that the land area of Cebu is four times the size of Hong Kong or six times the size of Sin­ga­pore.

With an area as vast and plans sim­i­lar to what were im­ple­mented in Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore, Palafox said the prov­ince could com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date 30 mil­lion peo­ple while pre­serv­ing her­itage, eco­log­i­cal sites and the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Metropoli­tan Cebu, or sim­ply Metro Cebu, is the main ur­ban cen­ter of the prov­ince of Cebu and is lo­cated along the cen­tral east­ern por­tion of the is­land in­clud­ing the nearby is­land of Mac­tan.

It ac­counts for 20 per­cent of the land area and 61.5 per­cent or around 2.8 mil­lion of the pop­u­la­tion of the en­tire is­land of Cebu.

Metro Cebu is al­most twice the size of Metro Manila, com­pris­ing the seven cities of Car­car, Cebu, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Man­daue, Naga and Tal­isay, as well as the six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Com­postela, Con­so­la­cion, Cor­dova, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fer­nando.

The firm be­lieves that it has much to con­trib­ute to Metro Cebu in terms of pro­vid­ing world-class ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning that cham­pi­ons so­cial equal­ity, eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, eco­nomic vi­brancy, cul­ture and her­itage, as well as a sense of spir­i­tu­al­ity.

Palafox said he has ini­tially brought up his mega­lopo­lis pro­posal to the League of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of the Philip­pines (LMP) in Cebu, which he said the town may­ors lis­tened to.


How­ever, he said that bu­reau­cracy in Philip­pine gov­ern­ment could still be a chal­lenge in im­ple­ment­ing this vi­sion.

He said they had plans to solve ur­ban devel­op­ment prob­lems in Manila as far back as 1974, but the metropoli­tan did not do any­thing about the rec­om­men­da­tions un­til to­day.

“They did not do any­thing. They didn’t fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tions. Now, we have cat­a­strophic traf­fic, lack of de­cent hous­ing and are more prone to dis­as­ters,” said Palafox.

He added that if the same prob­lem of “bad pol­i­tics” per­sisted in Cebu and the rest of the coun­try, then it would not take long be­fore Manila’s prob­lems would be repli­cated in these places as well.

But with a vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship, strong po­lit­i­cal will, good ar­chi­tec­ture, de­sign, plan­ning, as well as trans­porta­tion and mo­bil­ity, Metropoli­tan Cebu can be­come one of the top cities in the world.

Ideal sce­nario

Tuburan Mayor Dem­ocrito Dia­mante, LMP pres­i­dent, told CEBUDAILYNEWS that turn­ing Cebu into a mega­lopo­lis is an ideal sce­nario if not for the mas­sive bud­get it will re­quire.

None­the­less, he said that the pro­posal would still be pos­si­ble if car­ried out through a long-term devel­op­ment plan.

“Maybe we will pre­pare the plan and co­or­di­nate with the Na­tional Eco­nomic and Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity so that we can ask for a bud­get from the gov­ern­ment on a phase-by-phase ba­sis or yearly ba­sis bud­get,” said Dia­mante.

The Mega Cebu plat­form has laid out sim­i­lar pro­pos­als in the land use por­tion of its devel­op­ment road map, al­though stake­hold­ers do not use the term “mega­lopo­lis,” busi­ness­man Gor­don Alan Joseph said.

Joseph, pres­i­dent of the Cebu Busi­ness Club (CBC) and the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee chair­man of the Mega Cebu Devel­op­ment and Co­or­di­nat­ing Board (MCDCB), wel­comed Palafox’s pro­posal.

“It is good to have an­other ex­pert in ur­ban plan- ning re­con­firm­ing the need for de­con­ges­tion and propos­ing a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion,” he said in a text mes­sage.


MCDCB is the im­ple­ment­ing arm of the Mega Cebu plat­form, a con­sor­tium of pri­vate sec­tor and gov­ern­ment stake­hold­ers cre­ated in 2011 that en­vi­sions sus­tained ur­ban growth in Metro Cebu up to 2050.

The Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (Jica) con­cluded in 2015 the Roadmap Study for Sus­tain­able Ur­ban Devel­op­ment in Metro Cebu, which will be used to at­tain the Mega Cebu Vi­sion 2050.

Jica study

In the study, Jica projects eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in Metro Cebu to in­crease by 15 times its 2010 level.

The city’s GDP per capita is ex­pected to grow more than $20,000 in 2050, al­most the same as Korea’s level in 2010. Metro Cebu’s GDP is also pro­jected to rise by 8.3 per­cent an­nu­ally be­tween 2010 and 2020; 7.8 per­cent per year from 2020 to 2030; and then 5.8 per­cent per year from 2030 to 2050.

The study iden­ti­fied 10 flag­ship projects for im­ple­men­ta­tion un­til 2020, and also out­lined 14 an­chor pro­grams to be im­ple­mented by 2050.

Seven sub-roadmaps were also iden­ti­fied un­der the study, namely Metropoli­tan Com­pet­i­tive­ness En­hance­ment; Ur­ban Struc­ture and Land Use; High­way Net­work and Pub­lic Trans­port; Wa­ter Sup­ply, Storm Wa­ter and Waste­water Man­age­ment; Solid Waste Man­age­ment; Smart SRP (South Road Prop­er­ties) Devel­op­ment; and Metropoli­tan Gover­nance.


One of the photo dis­plays at the ex­hibit of ur­ban plan­ner Felino “Jun” Palafox at his newly opened of­fice show­ing his pro­posal of how to trans­form the wa­ter­front in Cebu City.


Ar­chi­tect Felino Palafox Jr. (left) to­gether with his as­so­ci­ates ar­chi­tect Michael de Cas­tro and Miguel Ramos, dis­cusses his views on how to make Cebu into a mega­lopo­lis dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s press brief­ing at his newly opened of­fice in Cebu City.

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