URBAN APE| Planning as a profession

EVERY person has the natural ability to think and anticipate what to do at a later time. Later could be 30 minutes from the time you are reading this up to a week from today. Since time is limited and keeps on flowing, and the things each of us needs to do are so varied; there is this need to pause for a while and then think through the amount of time each of us has in order to accomplish all the things that need to be done. That pause in time is actually an act of planning.

Planning is also a very much needed activity for communities. The act of community based participatory planning can and is very messy. We naturally do not like messy activities, so everyone will do anything to avoid getting involved in planning communities. Our natural instinct is to let somebody else – government especially – do the planning of our communities. If residents do not like the results of the plan, they will complain and then complain some more until they get the outcome that they desire.

Each of us understands that there are so many things that people need and desire in a community. The diversity of these needs, and the conflict of interests between and among groups within the community add to the complexity of getting each one on the same page.

Filipinos are used to letting government do ALL the planning, as each one goes on with their individual pursuits in life. When needed community services are not rendered or lacking, every one complains. Water supply, garbage collection, street lighting, school chairs, hospital beds, roads and transportation, work and many, many more concerns are all thrust into the governments responsibilities.

The enormity of these concerns and the complexity involved in harmonizing all of these demands based on very limited government financial resources needs to be purposively addressed and properly anticipated. The purposive Planning of communities, municipalities and cities need to be properly addressed in the Philippines. Professional Planners have to be involved in the various aspects of meeting community goals that are aimed in fulfilling the different needs of resident (people) living in these communities.

As of today, there are only 1,660 registered professional planners in the Philippines. These  professional planners are formally recognized as ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNERS. (I will write about the profession in the future.) Only the University of the Philippines offers an Academic course related to the Environmental Planning Profession. The course is called Urban and Regional Planning. At present, the Commission on Higher Education is holding discussions with the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners on the course outline and requirements for a degree in environmental planning.

Just this week, the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) held board exams for Environmental Planning. A total of 1802 examinees qualified to take the exam. 319 examinees took the exams in Davao City last June 7 & 8. Those who pass the exams will be added to the list of Licensed Professional Planners.

Let us hope that with the addition of MORE licensed planners, our communities, towns and cities will have better water and power supply, adequate school facilities, responsive medical services, livable and relaxing residential areas and most of all – locally accessible jobs.

There really is a strategic need for professional Filipino planners. Much more in Mindanao.

Posted in Opinion