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Building a Resilient Region

Collaborative Governance in Cities and

Communities of the Western Visayas

Stories from 15 Years of Philippines-Canada Cooperation

Contributors Supporting Organizations
Evan Anthony Arias Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council:
Alma Belejerdo City of Iloilo
Lisa Cavicchia Province of Guimaras
Andrew Farncombe Municipality of Leganes
Angeles Gabinete Municipality of Oton
Jahazel Gelito Municipality of Pavia
Francis Gentoral Municipality of San Miguel
Baltazar Gumana Municipality of Santa Barbara
Benito Jimena
Nereo Lujan Department of the Interior and Local Government - Region 6
Cristina Octavio
Jose Roni Peñalosa
Jay Presaldo Department of Tourism - Region 6
Andrea Roberts
Dr. Adrian Salaver
Dr. Joyous Jan Santos Municipality of Malay, Aklan Province
Dr. Sally Ticao

Editing, Layout & Design Publisher

Nereo Lujan
Ian Malczewski Canadian Urban Institute
555 Richmond St. West, Suite 402
PO Box 612, Toronto, Ontario
M5V 3B1 Canada
Tel: 416-365-0816
Fax: 416-365-0650
Municipality of Malay

Published with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA)
Canadian International Agence canadienne de
Development Agency développement international © 2009 Canadian Urban Institute
Learning to Think and Act like a Region: A
Philippine Metropolis Comes of Age 2

Iloilo City:
Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next
Generation 9

The Role of Local Governments in
Economic Development 13

Public-private Partnerships and
Community-based Tourism 17

Iloilo City:
Securing the City Through
Community-based Policing
Metro Iloilo:
A Metropolitan Alliance to Improve
Urban Health Services 25

Metro Iloilo:
Managing Rapid Urban Growth through
Integrated Land Use Planning 29

Metro Iloilo Guimaras:

Metro-wide Investment Promotion 32

A Community Comes Together to Fight
Poverty 35

Boracay’s War on Waste 42

Strengthening the Municipal Role in
Health and Sanitation 50
About This Casebook

Urban centres in the Asia-Pacific region are rapidly

growing. While it took London 130 years to grow
from a population of 1 million to 8 million, Bangkok
took only 45 years, Dhaka 37 years and Seoul only
25 years. According to the UN Habitat, by 2020,
two-thirds of the urban population in Southeast
Asia will live in only five mega urban regions, with
Manila tying with Bangkok in the second slot of
having the largest population by that time.

But it is in fact smaller cities that are home to

half of the urban world. According to the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), these smaller
urban centres are expected to account for about
half of urban population growth over the next
decade. Although not as often in the news, it is
these smaller urban centres – with fewer human,
technical and financial resources and limited with several local and regional government units in the
governance capacity to manage growth – that will need the region, as well as with national level agencies with a local
attention of policy makers in the foreseeable future. development mandate. The project has been anchored
by the Department of the Interior and Local Government,
Managing rapidly growing urban centers is a big challenge through its Region VI office. The CUI has helped its
to local governments in the Philippines, on whose partners in the region to imagine a sustainable future and
shoulders rest the power and responsibility of addressing then work towards it.
concerns on poverty, informal settlements, housing, jobs,
water and sanitation, environment, crime and public safety, This casebook shares the experiences and lessons learned
to name a few. over fifteen years of CUI’s engagement with its partners in
the Western Visayas. It will take readers through ten cases
In 1991, the Philippine government passed Republic Act that demonstrate how the region recognized a problem or
7610 otherwise known as the Local Government Code challenge it faced, brought stakeholders together through
(LGC). It transferred to local government units the power a process of civic engagement to determine a solution,
and responsibility to provide a range of basic services establish inter-LGU alliances, and then harnessed the
previously performed by the central government. This trend capacity of community members and the private sector to
toward government decentralization and empowerment realize the region’s goals. Knowledge transfer from Canada
of local communities in local affairs deepened the roots of and around the world – whether through experts, good
democracy in the Philippines. practice sharing or professional exchange – drove the
project’s innovations.
However, local government units (LGUs) found themselves
in limbo with the new law because they were unprepared These cases serve as a model for how technical
for decentralization. They lacked the basic capacity, assistance, international expertise and local knowledge
technical know-how and resources (financial, technical and and resources can come together to make significant
human) to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate activities improvements to the lives of citizens in a developing world
in an effective, autonomous and fully accountable manner. context. The projects presented here all have received
significant support over the years from CUI. A special word
Realizing the challenges ahead for the Philippines in of thanks goes to DILG and CIDA for having the vision to
making decentralization work, the Canadian Urban Institute support this Philippines-Canada collaboration over many
(CUI) launched in 1994 an innovative partnership program years and for the guidance in making it flourish.
to help local authorities take on their new responsibilities
and to advance the empowerment of communities in local Want More Information?
decision-making. The Canadian International Development For more information about CUI, please visit www.canurb.
Agency (CIDA), through its Canadian Partnership Branch, com or For more information
has provided a generous financial contribution to the about MIGEDC, please visit For more
project, as part of the Agency’s wider efforts to build information about DILG, please visit For
democratic governance in the country. more information about DOT, please visit
ph. For more information about the Municipality of Malay,
The geographic focus of the project is the Western Visayas please visit or http://www.malay-
Region, one of the priority areas for intervention under
CIDA’s Country Development Framework. CUI works
Learning to Think and Act like a Region: A Philippine
Metropolis Comes of Age
Standing amidst the stream of rural-
urban commuters on Ortiz Pier, one can
get a near perfect panorama of Iloilo
city and its region. Look closely and you
might even catch a glimpse into the past
or perhaps a few hints about what the
future holds for this rapidly growing city.
This is the Philippines’ fifth largest urban
region by population, and the second
oldest settlement in the country. It is the
undisputed commercial capital of the
Western Visayas group of islands and
centre of culture for the Ilonggo people.
It is also home to one of Canadian Urban
Institute’s longest running international
partnership programs.

The City and its Countryside

Iloilo’s port bustles with activity.
Foreign-registered cargo ships mix with
passenger ferries plying the Manila-
Mindanao route. A harbour perfectly
sheltered from open seas by the
adjacent island of Guimaras, it is easy unique partnership with 11 local government units (LGUs)
to understand why the Spanish conquistadores chose this and their communities, both urban and rural, across the
place in 1855 as a hub of maritime trade. Immediately greater Iloilo-Guimaras region.
to the north, the city’s dense commercial centre crowds
a narrow peninsula jutting out into the sea. Its heritage “We have all been learning to think and act like a region,”
commercial buildings are monuments to the former explains Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas as he speaks of
mercantile era and the wealth that came with the once- the collaboration with the Canadians. “A decade ago,
flourishing sugar industry.
this region came to a collective realization that it was in
trouble. We were in a constant state of crisis management.
Poking above the skyline, the spires of churches, some
The issues we faced spilled from one local jurisdiction
built as early as the 1700s, are lingering proof of the
to the next – mounting traffic congestion, worsening air
country’s 400 years of Spanish rule. Nearby, grand
quality, inadequate potable water supply, deficiencies in
mansions and old houses from another time display their
unique blend of Asian and Hispanic architecture. They offer solid waste management, environmental degradation and
a stark contrast to the squatter settlements perched above flooding, growing poverty and inequality. To move forward
the water’s edge along the harbour, a reminder that Iloilo, we knew we needed to come together.”
like so many other cities in Southeast Asia, continues to
struggle with poverty. And come together is exactly what has happened. In
February 2001, the core municipality of Iloilo City together
Looking farther afield toward the horizon, one can see the with the four adjacent suburban and rural municipalities
outer reaches of the region. To the west, the dormitory of Leganes, Oton, Pavia, and San Miguel established the
municipality of Oton gives way to terraced rice fields, Metropolitan Iloilo Development Council (MIDC). Following
farming villages, and the majestic mountains of Antique. To extensive consultation with regional stakeholders, visits by
the east and south across the narrow strait, rural Guimaras Canadian regional governance experts, and CUI-organized
island rises green out of the sea, the pattern of its famous study tours to learn how metropolitan governance works in
mango plantations visible on the hillsides. other places, the member councils opted for a voluntary,
consensus-based arrangement that draws on some of
Building the Regional City the best features of Metro Naga (
Building the regional city is the theme of CUI’s program in and Metro Vancouver ( The Philippines’
the Philippines. Running uninterrupted since 1994, it is a newest metropolitan arrangement was born.

2 Building a Resilient Region

Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippines Metropolis Comes of Age

But building the regional city did not stop with the Leadership for a Region
formation of MIDC. More recently, steps were taken to Leadership was what pulled Iloilo out from yesterday’s
bring neighbouring Guimaras Province and its five rural state of crisis management towards today’s optimism
municipalities into the regional family. Initiated in 2005, the and collaborative action. As the long-time mayor of the
Guimaras-Iloilo City Alliance (GICA) established a formal region’s central city, Treñas has been the leading advocate
mechanism for urban-rural cooperation and linkages. of the urban-region-building process in Iloilo. But he has
Cemented through a memorandum of understanding, not been alone in his mission. He was joined early on by
it was an impressive collaborative framework for the a legion of new-generation mayors and a governor from
marketing of tourism, the region’s most promising rural reaches of the region. What they have in common is a
economic opportunity, and for infrastructure development determination to do things differently and to leave this city
such as ports and roads that helped move goods in the region a better place for future generations. Many of these
important agro-industrial sector. leaders have been irrevocably changed by their exposure
to lessons from other places, having viewed first hand the
Metropolitan Governance Arrives experiences of Canada, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia
The most recent step along the path to improved regional through their involvement in the CUI program.
governance was the creation of the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras
Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) in August “It has been nothing less than a paradigm shift for us all,”
2006. As successor to MIDC and GICA, MIGEDC is an notes Oton’s former mayor, Carina Flores. “Frankly it is
enlarged metropolitan body that brings into the regional liberating. Thinking in the context of ‘urban’ and ‘regional’,
family the Province of Guimaras as well as the Municipality and no longer just ‘municipal’, has allowed all jurisdictions
of Santa Barbara, site of the new Iloilo International Airport to trade in municipal decision-making freedoms for the
that opened collective decision-
to commercial making of MIGEDC
traffic in June when it comes to the
2007. Created big issues.”
Executive Order Guimaras
No. 559 by Congressman and past
President Gloria Provincial Governor
Macapagal- Dr. Rahman Nava
Arroyo, MIGEDC explains it a different
is seen as a way. “The boat holds
contribution strong symbolism of
towards community in Filipino
implementing the culture,” he says,
nation’s regional reminding us of how
development the barangay, the
strategy modern-day village
and shaping and neighbourhood
the ‘Central unit, has its roots in
Philippines the ancient nomadic
Mega-Region’ as boat communities that
the nation’s tourist hub. sailed the archipelago. “Filipinos are very good at working
The MIGEDC Roadmap 2010 is the new strategic plan collectively within our local communities, less so at a more
for the region. It sets the region’s compass toward macro scale. What we are doing here is drawing on one
a sustainable future, emphasizing economic growth of our strongest legacies as a society, but this time we are
that benefits all citizens, environmental stewardship, building a community of a different sort -- an urban and
development of community assets, equitable access to regional community.”
government services and a strong commitment to civic
engagement and public-private-community partnerships. Jumpstarting the Economy
Building a shared identity for the regional community has
Some of the priority tasks identified by MIGEDC for the indeed been one of the major challenges faced by greater
next couple of years include preparing a regional growth Iloilo. Focusing on defining the region’s comparative
management plan, creating a strategy for integrated advantage, the region has just completed a new economic
regional infrastructure development, enhancing local development strategy and a regional tourism action plan
economic development, improving LGU fiscal affairs and that benefited from civic engagement at many levels.
policy development functions, and generally responding “During our many learning tours overseas with CUI, what
to the national government’s 10-point agenda and mega- we grew to understand was that to succeed we need to
region economic development strategy. compete in a globalized world,” notes Edwin Trompeta, the
Department of Tourism’s director for the Western Visayas

Building a Resilient Region 3

Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippine Metropolis Comes of Age

southern Guimaras, the

Guisi heritage tourism
project is an impressive
community-run venture.
Heritage and ecology
are its themes. Staying
overnight in a traditional
cottage, tourists are
offered a package that
invites them to learn
traditional methods of
fishing and agriculture,
understand marine
resource protection,
observe the restoration of
the community’s colonial-
era lighthouse, hike to
the local cave, waterfall,
mountain and white-
sand beaches, and in
the evening experience
local barangay life, food
Region. “So we opted for a culture-driven regeneration
and culture alongside local residents. The Panindahan sa
strategy. An ‘attitude’ was what we needed, and branding
Manggahan is a farm market festival that is turning the
our city and our region was the first logical step towards
island’s main public market, Alibhon in Jordan town, into a
tourist attraction and a celebration of eating locally grown
food. “Local farmers, fisherfolk, craftspeople and artists
Under the banner “Festival Capital of the Philippines”, the
need to capitalize on our increasing tourism, and this
Iloilo region chose to jumpstart the local economy through
allows them to showcase and sell their products,” Gabinete
its Dinagyang Festival. Literally meaning ‘to make merry,’
notes. And a tour guide program, coordinated through the
Dinagyang is a two-day, city-wide party started in 1968 that
recently established tourism information centre, is providing
explodes onto the streets every January. It blends religious
new livelihood opportunities for the island’s young people.
and pagan traditions, celebrating both the feast of Santo
Nino and the pre-colonial tradition of the ati warrior through
“Our tourism program is part of a much larger, quite
costume and dance. The success of this new approach
sophisticated local economic development machinery on
has gone beyond expectations. Through a government-
Guimaras. It’s something you won’t find in too many other
private sector partnership arrangement that saw the
rural areas of the country,” explains the Province’s senior
festival’s organization turned over to the Iloilo Dinagyang
planner Evan Arias with evident pride of accomplishment.
Foundation, tourism arrivals have seen substantial jumps
Created in 2004, the Provincial Economic Development
over the past five years.
Office (PEDO) is a new super agency on the island
that is working to strengthen the local economy, foster
With the festival as its main tourism product, the city region
a supportive investment climate and fight poverty by
has gone on to construct a cohesive heritage tourism
creating livelihood opportunities. PEDO’s front office is
portfolio to draw visitors to a range of Ilonggo culture
the Guimaras Trade and Information Centre (GTIC). It
and local places. Promoting both urban and countryside
serves as a one-stop shop for investors wanting to set up
experiences, the product invites visitors to experience on
business in the island, a showroom of local products and
one day the richness of the central city’s energetic urbanity,
services, and an incubator for small- and medium- sized
heritage buildings and sites, while on the next to take in
enterprises complete with training facilities. A testament
the pristine nature, serenity of farm and village life, and
to the Province’s success, an initiative is now afoot within
white sand beaches of Guimaras. The “Experience Iloilo
MIGEDC to create economic development offices (EDOs)
Guimaras” marketing program, which is run out of the Iloilo
in each of the member Local Government Units (LGUs),
City Convention Bureau, is a new cooperative arrangement
modeled on the Guimaras experience of stewarding
of the national, provincial and local governments.
community-based economic development.

Rural Strategies for the City Region Agriculture and fisheries are the other priority sectors for
“Tackling poverty is one of our main goals,” stresses Angie Guimaras. Thanks to a state-of-the-art research station
Gabinete, Guimaras’ provincial tourism officer. “In an effort and U.S. Department of Agriculture certification, the
to ensure the new tourism benefits our poorest residents, island is now exporting mangos -- its signature crop -- to
we are really proud to have invested seed funds in several North America and key markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
important pilot initiatives.” Centred on a coastal hamlet in Rice, coconut, cashew, kalamansi (limes) and copra

4 Building a Resilient Region

Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippines Metropolis Comes of Age

are other important crops. Surrounded by rich fishing councils, Guimaras produced an integrated strategic
grounds, the sea and its catch sustains life in 54 coastal plan. It is supported by a new land use plan, an economic
barangays. “PEDO is doing a lot to support growth in these development agenda and a state-of-the-art geographic
sectors,” continues Arias. “Our Agri-Fishery Development information system.
Program pays special attention to our marginal and small
producers.” Today the program is working to strengthen A Devolution Revolution
agricultural cooperatives, develop new processing facilities, CUI’s programming in the Philippines over the past 15
provide a common marketing system through GTIC and years has been undertaken with the financial support of the
improve farm-to-market infrastructure such as roads, public Government of Canada through the Canadian Partnership
markets and wharfs. Branch (CPB) of the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA). With a focus on the Western Visayas,
A Growth Management Framework CUI has been supporting the country’s continued thrust
To achieve the city region’s economic renaissance, towards decentralization of power to local governments
local leaders understand well that it cannot be realized and empowerment of local communities in decision-
without creating a liveable urban region. “If we are to making. The tradition of strong central government power
have a sustainable city, we need good governance and and control in the Philippines, which dates back to the
coordinated, long-horizon planning and management beginning of the Spanish conquest, made an important
across the whole region,” notes MIGEDC’s Executive reversal in 1986 with the advent of the People’s Power
Director José Roni Peñalosa. And this is what MIGEDC, Revolution. This so-called bloodless revolution brought
and before it MIDC, have been pursuing, and with vigour. the country into its current era of democratic development.
By 1991, a new Local Government Code (LGC) had been
One of the first acts of the new metro arrangement was
to harmonize the land use plans of its five member
municipalities. Formulated through a major participatory
exercise, the Metro Iloilo Land Use Framework (MILUF)
“The region’s pursuit of good governance
Plan is a regional growth management framework. It is paying dividends.”
establishes six guiding principles: 1) complete communities
with a full range of housing, employment and services,
2) compact development in the central city and around passed, beginning the process of devolution of power to
satellite towns, to combat sprawl and create a more the local level and deepening the roots of democracy.
sustainable, poly-centric urban structure, 3) green (forest,
agricultural) and blue (coastal, estuary) zone protection, “What is happening in the greater Iloilo region is nothing
4) transportation choices, such as mass transit, biking short of a devolution revolution,” says Evelyn Trompeta,
and walking, to minimize traffic congestion, 5) economic Western Visayas’ regional director for the Department
diversity, to promote investment and create jobs, and 6) of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the
social equity to put a priority on access to housing and national ministry responsible for overseeing the LGC’s
basic services by the region’s poorest residents. implementation. Because the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras
arrangement was a purely local initiative realized through
A similar process of plan harmonization took place in strong local leadership, she explains, there is local pride
Guimaras during the mid to late 1990s. Following an and ownership in the alliance providing momentum and
island-wide participatory planning exercise that involved cohesion across political lines into the future. It is indeed
the province, five municipalities and 96 barangay testament to the power of the Local Government Code.

“The region’s pursuit of good governance is paying

dividends,” Trompeta adds. “MIGEDC is now a
preferred platform for implementation of national-level
urban region projects. It has also attracted investment
from a range of international development agencies.”
Indeed, the metropolitan alliance has working
international partnerships not just with Canada, but also
with the Asian Development Bank, Australia (AusAID),
Cities Alliance, Germany (GTZ), Japan (JICA) and UN-

A Collaboration with Australia

In 2006, CUI embarked on a new local governance
project in the Philippines through a unique Australia-
Canada collaboration that is on the leading edge of
new approaches to harmonization and coordination

Building a Resilient Region 5

Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippine Metropolis Comes of Age

of official development

The Philippines-Australia
Local Governance
Development Program
(LGPD) worked to
enhance local economic
development in the country.
The program focused on
helping local governments
within a shared region
work together. By
promoting inter-municipal
collaboration and resource
sharing, LGPD aimed to
address critical constraints
to growing the economy,
while taking steps to
reduce poverty and achieve
sustainable development.

The project was funded by

AusAID, which manages
Australia’s official overseas
aid program. In April
2006, the Government of
Australia lifted restrictions
on foreign participation
regional offices of DILG is a major advance in setting up
in tendering, opening the door for CUI to join forces with
such institutional support infrastructure.
Adelaide-based Coffey International Development Pty Ltd.
to submit the winning bid.
Through its CIDA-funded program, CUI provides support
to LGRC Region VI (Western Visayas) as it carves out
Running from October 2006 to January 2008, LGDP
its important new role in supporting decentralization.
worked closely with local area development partnerships
The Center is active in promoting a culture of learning
(LADPs) in two pilot regions: the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras
as it becomes a purveyor of ideas, a disseminator
Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) and the
of information, and an advocate of multi-stakeholder
Provincial Government of Bohol.
approaches. Connecting and convening stakeholders
to advance integrated thinking on local challenges has
The Australian program was designed to build on the
become its important new role.
results flowing from many years of both Australian and
Canadian development cooperation in the local governance
To help the LGRC in Western Visayas to bridge the digital
sector. In addition to its work with the two LADPs, the
divide, a website was launched (
AusAID program supported policy reform to help bring
with support of CUI and other local civil society partners
about improved regional cooperation in other parts of the
including Iloilo Code NGOs, Process Foundation and
country. It also facilitates donor coordination at the local
the region’s three main academic institutions, Central
Philippines University, University of San Agustin and the
University of the Philippines in the Visayas. The website is
With Coffey International Development as the managing
part of a program to pilot seven LGRCs across the country,
contractor of the program, CUI played the role of
spearheaded by DILG’s Local Government Academy
partnership advisor in the Metro-Iloilo Guimaras pilot

LGRC as Knowledge Hub in Region VI Learning and Sharing Across Region VI

Working in conjunction with DILG and the Department
For devolution to work in a country as regionally
of Tourism (DOT), CUI has been active in spreading its
disparate as the Philippines, deconcentrated LGU
experiences and knowledge to other parts of the Western
support mechanisms are gaining in their importance for
Visayas. One of the Institute’s most active partnerships has
the promotion of good local governance and sustainable
been with the Municipality of Malay. Mass tourism and rapid
economic growth. The recent establishment of Regional
development on Boracay Island has created significant
Local Governance Resource Centers (LGRCs) within the

6 Building a Resilient Region

Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippines Metropolis Comes of Age

challenges for land management and

environmental protection and put strains
on the island community’s health care
system. To protect environmental health
and livelihood of local residents while
continuing to attract tourists to the ‘crown
jewel’ of the Philippines tourism industry,
Boracay’s leaders launched a number of
programs to strengthen its environmental
safeguards and improve its service
delivery systems.

CUI has lent its support to these initiatives

over the past decade. A first step was
to lead Boracay stakeholders through
a participatory process to prepare a The Plaza Libertad is one of Iloilo’s most cherished public spaces
sustainable development strategy for deeply in the quality and strength of its public realm,”
the island. This was supported by a carrying capacity observes CUI’s immediate past President David Crombie.
analysis that drew attention to the early warning signs of “Education, healthcare, social services, public transit, arts
an impending ecological crisis on the island and rallied and culture, energy resources, public safety and security,
decision-makers and the community around the need for justice, libraries, environmental stewardship, roads, streets
managing change in a unique tourism destination. and public places have been the connecting tissues linking
our individual private worlds and fusing one generation to
This participatory planning activity, which took place in the another.”
late 1990s, led to a series of initiatives related to health
and solid waste management. Through LGU capacity Reawakening the Filipino tradition of bayanihan has
building, the Boracay Island Sustainable Health Services been an overarching theme of MIGEDC. The term comes
Delivery Project has helped improve the health and from the Tagalog words bayan (community) and anihan
sanitation status on the island. It has helped improve solid (harvest) and has its origins in the tradition of a community
waste management, strengthen public health services to coming together for harvest and sharing in the fruits of
residents, contract workers and tourists and raise the level their efforts. Today the term refers to communal effort in
of awareness of people through information and education which shared challenges are overcome through community
campaigns. Steps were also taken to strengthen municipal unity, cooperation and partnership. Putting it another way,
ordinances and development control guidelines in an effort David Crombie, CUI’s former President and CEO and
to improve the quality of the built environment and protect former Mayor of the City of Toronto, says “we are imagining
ecologically sensitive zones. an urban future that challenges many of the conventions
of 20th century industrial practice and yet recalls some
The experiences and lessons learned in Malay are now forgotten wisdom.
informing ongoing work related to sustainable tourism
development in the MIG region.
Renewing the Public Realm
It is in the spirit of bayanihan that improvements to the
Reawakening the Filipino Tradition of public realm of the MIG region are being pursued. Over
‘Bayanihan’ the past several years, MIGEDC and before it MIDC put in
The most remarkable thing about MIGEDC is that it has motion a series of impressive city-building initiatives. Some
provided a framework for turning good ideas into action. of the most important of these, which are explored in detail
And partnership is at the heart of the development efforts in in this casebook, are the following:
Metro Iloilo-Guimaras.
•  Metro Iloilo Health Alliance (MIHA) is the Philippines’
“We gleaned a lot from our studies in Canada,” says first inter-local health zone in a metropolitan setting. It
Cristina Octavio, MIGEDC’s Assistant Executive Director. was established to provide more equitable access to
“The strong Canadian commitment to collective action and health services across the urban and rural municipalities
building a healthy public realm in your cities has rubbed off of the MIDC area. The Alliance was in response to a
on us. As you can see from what is under way here, Iloilo critical shortage of health care resources and an uneven
is really getting back on track to improve our public spaces, quality of health infrastructure, services, and expertise
places and community and social infrastructure.” across municipal jurisdictions. In addition to providing a
new framework for integrated health planning, MIHA’s
Renewing the public realm is a defining theme of the main feature is a two-way referral system. This system
Canadian Urban Institute’s work both in Canada and allows patients to move seamlessly from community-
around the world. “The quality of urban life has been rooted level public health facilities (barangay health stations)

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Learning to Think and Act Like a Region: A Philippine Metropolis Comes of Age

to the highest level of specialized institutional care facilities, providing training, and organizing study tours to
and back, depending on patient need. Working with inspire improvements. A new annual award recognizes
PhilHealth, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, outstanding community policing initiatives, approaches
the Alliance has paid special attention to establishing a and leadership across the urban region.
financing scheme to guarantee access to those unable
to pay. •  Improvements to key regional infrastructure. MIDC
has put in motion a series of projects to improve
•  Iloilo Investment Promotion Centre. To ensure that several community assets of importance to the region.
Iloilo and the surrounding municipalities remain a To address mounting garbage disposal problems and
preferred destination for investors, the region established ward off imminent environmental and health problems,
the Iloilo Investment Promotion Center (IIPC) to promote efforts are afoot to convert the Calajunan dumpsite to
Iloilo City and the province as an investment destination, a sanitary landfill. Enhancements to the region’s public
to serve as a repository of information and services that markets, both in the central and outlying town centres,
caters to the needs of prospective investors, and to link will enhance food security, afford more opportunities
government agencies at the national and local levels, for farmers from the rural reaches of the city region to
the private sector, and existing and potential investors. sell their goods, and improve waste management and
In partnership with the Iloilo Business Club and industry recycling. MIDC has also worked closely with national-
associations, the IIPC has worked to streamline the level authorities during the planning and construction of
investment process and to provide essential services to Iloilo’s new international standard airport in nearby Santa
prospective and ongoing investors. Barbara, with an emphasis on ensuring the region’s
network of arterial roads provides adequate access to
•  Central business district revitalization. This important the new facility.
initiative is restoring the historic city centre, known as
Calle Real, through improvements to the public realm A Regional Community, a Sustainable Urban
and actions to bring back vibrancy to businesses in
the area. It is designed to counter the area’s decline Future
following the construction of new malls in outlying parts Back at Ortiz Pier, yet another pumpboat fills with maritime
of the city. The goal is to one day make the old city a commuters on their way to Guimaras. In this nation of
centrepiece of the local tourism industry. The restoration islands, this has been a part of daily life for centuries. As
of the area’s impressive stock of heritage buildings is the Governor Nava reminds us, these boats provide strong
starting point. In April 2000, the local government created symbolism of the regional community building that is
the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council, underway in Iloilo and Guimaras. This is a region in motion,
which has completed an inventory of heritage structures a city in change. Looking toward the horizon, one can see
and prepared new preservation policies and zoning. a sustainable urban future in the making.
A package of tax incentives is driving private sector
involvement in the restoration efforts. Other strategies
being pursued are the gradual phasing-
out of billboards, stricter enforcement of
signs, consolidation of utility poles and
lines, enhanced urban design guidelines,
traffic re-routing and the introduction of
pedestrian amenities.

•  Metro Iloilo Safer Communities Project

has placed a priority on bolstering the
city’s long-established Community
Oriented Policing System (COPS).
Throughout the country, maintenance of
local peace and order and the promotion
of public safety at the neighbourhood
and village levels rest with barangay
tanods. Somewhat similar to the
neighbourhood block watches of North
America, these are groups of four to six
civilian volunteers that patrol the streets,
primarily at night, armed only with night
sticks and direct communication links
to police. The project is working with
tanods on several fronts. It is helping
to modernize their equipment and

8 Building a Resilient Region

Iloilo City
Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next Generation
Walking through the streets of Iloilo City, one
could be forgiven for thinking he or she had been
whisked away in a time machine. While looming
malls have risen in several corners of the city, they
cannot overshadow the splendour of the colonial
buildings that adorn the city’s commercial centre
and its adjoining districts. These buildings are not
only testimonies to the city’s rich cultural heritage,
but are also tourism assets worthy of promotion.

However, these mute witnesses to the rise

and fall of the Queen City of the South are of
little interest to those who must struggle daily
to put food on their tables and clothes on their
backs. Jeepney drivers pay no attention to their
elegance. Sidewalk vendors shut their eyes to
their grandeur. Bargain hunters take no notice of
their value.

To most residents, these buildings serve as mere

backdrops for the clatter of traffic, the sweat
of commerce, and the dust of shopping. Their
splendour hidden behind cavalcades of billboards
and signage, many of these buildings might
understandably appear inconsequential to the
average Ilonggo.

Upon closer look, however, Iloilo City’s heritage

houses and buildings are treasures worth keeping,
not only because of their cultural value, but
because of their economic potential, too. The
Iloilo City government, recognizing this potential,
has embarked on a laudable program aimed at
conserving the city’s heritage while simultaneously
boosting economic development. By reviving
business activities along the city’s central for support services to the flourishing sugar industry in
business district and preserving these historic structures, nearby Negros Island, Iloilo City became host to banks,
this program aims to increase economic activity by inviting social clubs, warehouses, machine shops, printing presses,
tourists to explore the city’s colonial past. retail shops, commercial firms, educational institutions and
medical services.
But the program is not just about culture, tourism, and
economic development. It is also about public-private Iloilo City’s population then was already sizable, notes
partnerships, about a multi-stakeholder approach to historian Alfred McCoy in his book “Philippine Social
planning, and about the use of innovative approaches to History.” During the 1850s, it already had a population
addressing complex and interweaving issues. of 71,600, making it a city of the same size as Sydney
(54,000 in 1851), Chicago (84,000 in 1856) or Buenos
The Colonial Past Aires (91,000 in 1855)1.
Built during the sugar boom and located predominantly in
the city’s Central Business District, these structures are not Before the turn of the twentieth century, Iloilo City already
just symbols of opulence and luxury, but are also proof of boasted electricity, telephones, telegraphs, railways, ice
Iloilo City’s economic, industrial, educational and cultural plants, automobiles, theatres, paved roads, and other
dominance during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.
Alfred W. McCoy, Ed. C.DeJesus, Philippine social history: global trade
In 1855, when Iloilo City’s port was opened to world trade, and local transformations (Manila: Asian Studies Association of Australia,
Ateneo de Manila University Press,1982)
the Queen City of the South was born. Serving as hub

Building a Resilient Region 9

Iloilo City: Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next Generation

modern conveniences. It was also the home to the

country’s first department store, first car assembly plant, After a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and
first commercial airline, and first luxury liner. Proof of its threats) analysis for heritage tourism development in Iloilo
early global dealings rested in the presence of foreign City, the following recommendations were made:
business houses and the consular offices of Spain, Great
Britain, China, Japan, Netherlands and Norway.2 •  Have heritage and cultural tourism as the major thrust
of local tourism planning;
Even outside of the commercial district, Iloilo City’s •  Encourage an Iloilo heritage and cultural tourism
distinguished history can be found. The famed cathedral of focus within national tourism planning;
Jaro and its belfry across the street as well as the church •  Create local capacities to develop and promote
of Molo symbolize the engineering genius of the Spanish cultural and heritage tourism opportunities; and
friars. The academic legacies of the Ilonggos started with •  Use the Internet as a more effective promotional tool.
the tutelage of the Augustinians and other religious orders
that opened a number of schools that still engage young Responding to the call for cultural and heritage tourism,
minds today. Iloilo City’s mansions and historic houses in April 2000 the Iloilo City government created the Iloilo
stand with majesty as they display a unique mix of Asian City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC)
and Hispanic architecture. by enacting the Local Cultural Heritage Conservation
Ordinance. The council, composed of individuals from
The decline of the sugar industry and the subsequent the arts and culture community, was envisioned to be
Japanese invasion not only doomed the city’s economy, but a government body responsible for advancing cultural
also left some of these structures in ruins. While nothing heritage conservation and promotion. It also addressed
can be done to rebuild or restore those that were ravaged the call of the Tourism Sector Plan and the Environmental
by neglect and bombs, those that remain can still be saved. Management Sector Plan of the 1998-2010 Iloilo City
Conservation efforts are a must not only to promote Iloilo Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) for a program on
City’s cultural heritage, but also to protect these heritage heritage conservation.
structures from destruction as they face pressures from
new development. Preserving Heritage
The council was tasked to conduct an inventory of cultural
Restoring Pride heritage and legacy buildings and to develop and make
These structures can be a source of pride for every known rules and regulations for their preservation. Through
Ilonggo, standing as reminders that their city was once these strategies, the council aimed to address the need
an important economic anchor for the Philippines during to preserve the city’s remaining heritage structures and
both the Spanish colonial period and the American to enhance the city’s tourism potential. Tourism is a
commonwealth era. As such, they can encourage everyone potentially major economic driver for Iloilo City, generating
to strive for greatness. investments and local government revenues as well as
jobs for its people.
Restoring the splendour of these structures, especially
those found in the Central Business District, can also The main target of this conservation effort is the Central
provide the local government with much-needed income Business District, which consists of the streets of J. M.
from tourism. Iloilo City’s distinctive landscape, the unique Basa, Aldeguer, Mapa, Guanco and Iznart. Declared as
architecture of its heritage structures, and its historical the Iloilo City Heritage Zone, the area is home to Art Deco-
wealth can give tourists a very fulfilling visit. In countries styled commercial buildings built between the 1920s and
like Malaysia and Thailand, cultural and heritage sites are a the 1950s. A catalogue of these buildings has already been
major attraction for their respective tourism industries. prepared as an initial step in conservation planning.

Recognizing this, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and The ordinance, which underwent some amendments in
the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) sponsored in October April 2001, states that all buildings in Iloilo City that are 50
1998 a cultural heritage tourism workshop. CUI’s work was years old or more are to be considered heritage or legacy
undertaken with the financial support of the Government buildings. Likewise, Plaza Libertad and the district plazas of
of Canada provided through the Canadian International Molo, Arevalo, Mandurriao, La Paz and Jaro were declared
Development Agency (CIDA). This workshop was attended historical and cultural landmarks and could only be used for
by individuals from local and national governments, cultural historical, cultural and fiesta celebrations. The ordinance
institutions, universities, tourism-related businesses, mandates that the use, upkeep and preservation of these
and concerned citizens. The intent of the workshop was structures and landmarks as far as practicable shall always
to introduce the audience to the concept of cultural and be the concern of the Iloilo City government.
heritage tourism, to identify local cultural and historical
resources, and to determine how they could be best Owners, administrators, lessees or any other people in
marketed locally, nationally, and internationally. charge of heritage or legacy structures are prohibited from
Regalado, Felix B; Franco, Quintin B. (1973), Griño, Eliza B., ed., History
undertaking any repair, rehabilitation or construction of any
of Panay, Central Philippine University kind unless there is a favourable recommendation from
10 Building a Resilient Region
Iloilo City: Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next Generation

spur more investments and

create more jobs.

To achieve the goals
of the cultural heritage
conservation program,
the council, with the
assistance of CUI,
prepared in 2001 the Iloilo
City Cultural Heritage
Conservation Framework.
The document, completed
following a multi-
stakeholder strategic
planning workshop,
outlines the issues, goals
and strategic actions for
preserving and promoting
Iloilo City’s cultural heritage
in general, and the Central
Business District in
Guided by the vision
statement “Iloilo City: The
Heart of Visayan Heritage,”
the ICCHCC. In the event that the repair or rehabilitation the framework sought to
is urgent, building owners, administrators or lessees are transform Iloilo City into a “culturally-vibrant community
mandated to make sure that the façade showing the working for the preservation, development and promotion
architectural design of the buildings is retained, restored of its heritage.” Its goals and objectives are:
and preserved.
•  To increase awareness and generate political support
All businesses within the heritage zone are given for cultural heritage conservation;
incentives. These include exemption from payment of •  To enhance community awareness and public
business taxes and building fees. Old investors as well education of the value of cultural heritage;
as new ones can avail themselves of these incentives as •  To establish a sustainable organizational structure
long as they are in the heritage zone. These include the to coordinate the government and private sectors’
following: involvement in cultural heritage initiatives;
•  To strive for professional standards of coordination
•  For every ten years of existence in the area, one year and cooperation among key stakeholders involved in
of exemption from business taxes but not exceeding cultural heritage conservation and promotion;
three years. •  To formulate legislation and policies that promote
•  For those putting up new businesses with a heritage conservation (i.e., policies, zoning, urban
capitalization of at least P1 million pesos, 25 percent of design, etc.);
exemption on business taxes for every P1 million for one •  To provide incentives to property owners for
year. revitalizing their heritage buildings;
•  In case of preservation, reconstruction and restoration •  To establish funding for conservation technologies.
of legacy or heritage buildings, the owner is exempted
from paying building fees while lessors are not required It also gives particular focus to the Central Business
to pay business taxes for two years. District (CBD), which used to be an area rich in cultural,
social, commercial and political development. With the
These incentives aim to revive business activities within the establishments of new malls in the city, however, the
heritage zone which, prior to the onset of shopping malls, CBD has faced many challenges, including shrinking
was the busiest area in Iloilo City. With challenges like business profitability, deteriorating commercial area, and
shrinking business profitability, deteriorating commercial poor environment. This reflects the city’s economic health,
area and poor environment, it is feared that the Central local quality of life and community heritage of trade and
Business District will have an untimely demise if nothing commerce. The framework thus sought to:
is done to rescue it. The revival of the area is expected to

Building a Resilient Region 11

Iloilo City: Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next Generation

economic revitalization activities for the


The Catalogue Project also promoted

public awareness and participation in
the protection and preservation of the
city’s heritage buildings and sites, and
encouraged public-private partnerships
in community development through the
project’s multi-stakeholder approach in
project planning and implementation.

The catalogue project was undertaken

by the council in cooperation with the
Arki Club of the University of San
Agustin, Department of Architecture,
and the Business Research Class of
the University of the Philippines in the
Visayas College of Management. The
City Environment and Natural Resources
Office and the City Tourism Office
provided logistical support.

The project resulted in the profiling

of buildings, which include the
•  Improve urban design and planning for the CBD; measurement of nine lots and 16
•  Increase business activities by improving downtown building areas. A total of 31 sketches of building elevations
products and services; and ornamentations were also made. It also yielded
•  Attract investments for the CBD; and six architectural drafts of buildings’ perspectives, front
•  Ensure effective management of the CBD’s elevation drawings of 20 buildings, and spot details
preservation efforts. showing ornamentations from 22 buildings. Photo-
documentations were also undertaken of facades and
The CBD Preservation Framework aims to strengthen the building ornamentations.
downtown area’s position as a special heritage zone for
socio-economic and cultural development. Its strategies Among the buildings surveyed include the 1922 S.
include the preparation of ordinances that will call for the Javellana Building on the corner of J.M. Basa and Guanco
gradual phase-out of big billboards and the regulation of streets; the 1925 S. Villanueva Building on the corner of
signage, the enforcement of environmental standards to Aldeguer and J.M. Basa Streets that used to house the
enhance urban design and structures, traffic re-routing, and International Hotel, the first hotel in Iloilo City; another S.
the introduction of pedestrian amenities. Villanueva Building on J.M. Basa Street built in 1927; the
1927 Cine Palace, now the Regent Theater Building also
To invigorate the business vibrancy of the CBD, the on J.M. Basa Street; and the Elizalde-Ynchausti Building
framework exposes key stakeholders to best practices built in the 1930s also on J.M. Basa Street.
in CBD revitalization and implementing business
improvement practices. It also intends to organize a The ICCHCC, in partnership with ABS-CBN Television
“heritage watch” to monitor compliance of the CLUP and of Network, has also produced a 10-minute video on cultural
the city’s zoning ordinance. Demonstration and partnership heritage conservation in Iloilo City to promote awareness
projects are also sought to encourage participation in and generate public support for preservation efforts. The
cultural heritage conservation and promotion. video is shown occasionally on local cable TV programs.
It has also become a promotional tool for cultural heritage
Taking Action tourism in Iloilo City.
With financial assistance from the Ford Motor Company
Conservation and Environmental Grants, the ICCHCC ICCHCC has also been working closely with the National
completed the first phase of the Iloilo City Downtown Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Filipino
CBD Heritage Buildings Catalogue Project, producing a Heritage Festival Inc. for the annual hosting of the National
progress report in September 2002. Considered an initial Heritage Month, held every May following a proclamation
step in conservation planning for the city’s oldest business by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The celebration is
centre, it aimed to generate baseline information on the held to raise the consciousness of Filipinos with respect to
city’s heritage buildings in the downtown CBD, which could their patrimonial heritage and the need to preserve it.
then be applied to the planned heritage conservation and By the end of January 2009, the ICCHCC was completing

12 Building a Resilient Region

Iloilo City: Conserving a City’s Legacy for the Next Generation

the final draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations projecting itself as a cultural tourism destination and
for Local Cultural Heritage Conservation Ordinance for by providing more economic prospects for its people in
adoption of the Iloilo City council. the form of employment and livelihood opportunities. Of
late, at least five new hotels opened in the city, bringing
A related activity is the “Pretty Plaza, Banwa Gwapa” the total number of hotels with first class, standard, and
contest, the annual search for the most beautiful plaza economy accommodations to 17. Complementing these
within the various local governments of the Metro Iloilo- hotels are accredited tourist inns, pension houses, resorts,
Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC). restaurants, shopping centres, handicraft stores, and
Banwa is Hiligaynon (the language in Metro Iloilo- antique dealers all over the metropolis. In 2004, Iloilo
Guimaras) for “town” and gwapa is “beautiful.” City visitors reached 292,924 domestic tourists, 28,730
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and 15,176 foreign
The contest aims to encourage local governments to tourists.
invest in the public realm and at the same time preserve
the cultural significance of plazas to communities. When
Spanish colonizers came to the Philippines, they enacted
a policy known as reduccion, in which they mandated that
towns be built around a central plaza. The plaza’s central
purpose was interaction, providing a paseo (promenading
area) during the day and an adelance (night market) at

It is in these plazas where the Filipino tradition of

pakikipagkapwa, a holistic interaction with others,
was nurtured, resulting in the laudable practices of
pagtutulungan (mutual self-help) and kawanggawa

“Pretty Plaza, Banwa Gwapa” is not just a competition

but also a venue to learn lessons and improve the
management of public spaces.

Boosting the Economy

Reviving the Central Business District (CBD) to encourage
investments in the area can provide a boost to the city’s
economy, but this is just one factor that may spur growth
and development. By and large, it is the city’s positioning
as a cultural destination that will eventually serve as an
impetus of economic advancement as far as tourism is
concerned. Heritage buildings, old houses and churches,
historical spots, festivals and food, all of which can be
found in Iloilo City, provide a perfect cultural experience for

The experience of Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province

provides a clear picture of what Iloilo City can hope to
achieve once it develops its cultural tourism potential.
Considered the best-preserved example of a planned
Spanish colonial city in Asia, it implemented the Vigan
Heritage Conservation Program in 1995 when it was still
a second class municipality with a budget of P24 million With structures and policies already in place, thus ensuring
(US$500,000). In 1997, it became a first class municipality the program’s sustainability beyond changes in political
with a budget of P54 million (US$1.1 million). In 1999, leadership, Iloilo City’s cultural heritage conservation
when it became a UNESCO world heritage site, it had a efforts will surely bear fruit for a proud people. By the time
budget of P63 million (US$1.34 million). In 2001, after it the economic benefits have trickled down to the everyday
became a city, it had a budget of P134 million (US$2.84 citizens, all pedestrians, both local and visiting, will value
million). In 2002, its budget as a heritage city was P141 both the economic and cultural contributions of Iloilo City’s
million (US$3 million). unique heritage.

Iloilo City can very well increase its revenue base, by

Building a Resilient Region 13

The Role of Local Governments in Economic Development
Guimaras may have been caught flatfooted when an oil ventures, which were not enough to create jobs for the
spill devastated its shores in August 2006, but it was quick unemployed. There were no funds available for basic
to find its way out of the crisis. The environmental disaster services to address the needs of the poor. It was not
wrought havoc on the island-province’s tourism and fishing surprising to find Guimaras in the so-called “Club 20,” that
industries, heavily affecting the towns of Nueva Valencia, infamous list of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines
Sibunag and San Lorenzo. The two other towns – Jordan as identified under the Social Reform Agenda of then
and Buenavista – were less affected, but likewise felt President Fidel Ramos.
the impact of the declining market confidence in fishery
products caught in Guimaras waters. Despite this grim picture, there was a lot of optimism for
Guimaras, given its great potential. The 60,457-hectare
However, the oil spill’s impact on the island’s economic island has a rich fishing ground that sustains its 96 coastal
drivers was cushioned by the maximization of fund and inland villages (barangays). It is endowed with a
assistance from the various agencies that poured into variety of tourist spots and other attractions like cultural
Guimaras in the wake of the disaster and through the festivals and landmarks. It is also considered the mango
coordination of all economic development efforts in the capital of the Philippines, producing big, sweet mangoes
province. These tasks fell on the shoulders of the Provincial that travel as far as the United States. And development
Economic Development Office (PEDO), the department planners proclaim it as the island to watch in light of plans
responsible for harmonizing all economic activities and for to put up free-trade zones and industrial-tourism estates in
providing technical and administrative support to municipal Guimaras.
governments in the area of trade and investment, tourism,
enterprise development and cooperative development. The Realization
Turning the optimism for Guimaras into reality has been a
PEDO’s vision is “to make Guimaras the preferred tourism great challenge for local governments. Development and
and investment destination for agriculture, fishery and capacity-building assistance started to pour in. In 1994, the
tourism in the country.” PEDO’s mission, on the other provincial government, with the assistance of the Canadian
hand, is “to provide strategic direction, leadership and Urban Institute (CUI), embarked on a strategic planning
action to strengthen the Guimaras economy to support the and implementation process to respond to the needs of
province’s poverty reduction goals.” the new province. CUI’s work in Guimaras was undertaken
with the financial support of the Government of Canada
PEDO was created in 2003 when the provincial provided through the Canadian International Development
government under then Gov. Felipe Rahman Nava Agency (CIDA).
reorganized the entire provincial administrative structures
through Resolution No. 042, or the “Proposed New Plantilla
Positions Structure of the Provincial Government of the
Province of Guimaras.”
“When Guimaras became a full-fledged
Poor but Rich province, it was likened to the proverbial ‘poor
When Guimaras became a full-fledged province in 1992, man sitting on a mountain of gold’.”
it was likened to the proverbial “poor man sitting on a
mountain of gold.” Among the major problems that local
government officials faced then were poverty, the lack of The program, which involved all three levels of local
employment opportunities for its people and the absence governments, non-governmental organizations and
of investments to bring much-need revenues for local civil society, aimed to develop the capacities of local
governments. governments to promote sustainable development
practices and community involvement in local decision-
At that time, the island’s poverty incidence based on the making.
food threshold was 75 percent, meaning that 75 percent of
its people could not afford the minimum food requirement Through community-based planning using a grassroots,
to sustain their well-being. Most of the island’s labour force gender-oriented bottom-up approach that involved
was employed in nearby Iloilo City, a highly urbanized communities and stakeholders from across Guimaras, a
city 15 minutes away by boat. In 1990, Guimaras had an number of realizations were made. Stakeholders found
unemployment rate of 15.4 percent, much higher than the that there was a lack of proper coordination of provincial
regional (Western Visayas) and the national rates of 11.7 resources for the delivery of tourism, trade and investment
and 8.5 percent, respectively. promotion and employment on the island. Economic
development efforts of the national government agencies
Moreover, investments were limited to small-scale and the provincial and municipal governments were

14 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: The Role of Local Governments in Economic Development

uncoordinated, resulting in duplication

in the content of some programs
and services, little impact on poverty
reduction, and slow growth in

The Proposal
Thus, the Guimaras Economic
Development Strategy – one of
the major outputs of the CUI’s
program – proposed the creation
of an office to coordinate economic
development efforts to maximize
human and financial resources to
effectively achieve economic goals
and targets. This was also stressed in
the Guimaras Medium Term Provincial
Development Plan (MTPDP) of 1998-
2004, which identified inadequate
access to resources, basic services
and economic opportunities among
the major problems besetting the
people in Guimaras, particularly
so-called poverty groups such as body at the provincial government level that determined
farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, cultural minorities and modes of complementation and coordination.
other marginalized groups like children, women, persons
with disabilities and the elderly. Such inadequacy was due •  Absence of an Investment Promotion Unit at
to the low level of new investment in agriculture, industry the provincial level to take charge of investment
and services, a condition that contributed to poverty in the promotion initiatives for the province
The absence of an office that was primarily mandated
The creation of this office sought to address the following: to implement economic initiatives to maximize the
resources and potential of Guimaras had been limiting
•  Uncoordinated economic development efforts of the development of the economic sector. Considering the
different local and national agencies need to effectively coordinate all initiatives particularly
on local economic development, the concept of creating
Concerns were raised regarding the uncoordinated a department under the provincial government was
organizational arrangements for economic development proposed. Such a unit was envisioned to function as the
efforts. Several national and provincial government primary office mandated to coordinate and implement all
departments, agencies and municipal governments were local economic development activities focusing on tourism
involved in facets of an economic development program, development, cooperative development, investment
but there was little or no coordination of these efforts. promotion, and business and enterprise development.
It was mandated to implement economic initiatives to
As a matter of fact, economic development in the maximize the resources and potential of Guimaras, thereby
Province of Guimaras had advanced mainly due to boosting the development of the economic sector.
a variety of economic development programs and
projects implemented by government, non-governmental Legal Basis
organizations and business groups. Approximately a With this common idea of creating an office for local
third of the annual total internal resources allotment was economic development, the next question for Guimaras
being allocated for various economic projects, aside was: Does it have the power and resources to create such
from the grants provided by the national government and an office? Republic Act No. 7160 - otherwise known as
international agencies. the Local Government Code of 1991 - allows every local
government unit in the Philippines to design and implement
Numerous cooperatives and people’s economic its own organizational structure and staffing pattern based
development organizations had emerged over the years, on its priority needs and service requirements. It likewise
providing increased economic assistance to citizens. Some illustrates local economic development as an important
of these programs have similar objectives and strategies local government function and pushes for a system
and employ similar structures and mechanisms with some of sound local governance based on the principles of
duplication in the content of programs and services. This openness, accountability, efficiency and equity.
was attributed to the absence of an efficient coordinating

Building a Resilient Region 15

Guimaras: The Role of Local Governments in Economic Development

A number of legal provisions in the code were vital to charge of investment promotion, trade and development,
Guimaras’ ability to create PEDO. The code allowed networking and marketing employment assistance,
Local Government Units to enter into joint ventures and enterprise planning and business development, support
other cooperative arrangements with non-governmental services development and management, as well as
organizations; to design and implement their own resource mobilization.
organizational structure and staffing patters; to formulate
long-term, medium-tem and annual socio-economic Working in partnership with the business sector and
development plans and policies; and to formulate local provincial and national government stakeholders involved
investment incentives to promote the inflow and direction of in economic development, PEDO is likewise mandated to
private investment capital. promote economic development for Guimaras, serve as
link between the provincial government, the municipalities,
The Answer national government agencies, and the private sector
CUI then assisted Guimaras in completing a proposal for in economic development, and provide leadership and
the creation of the Provincial Economic Development Office strategic direction in the realization of Guimaras’ economic
(PEDO). In 2003, the provincial government of Guimaras development potential. Its role is to serve as enterprise
reorganized its structures and this offered an opportunity manager of provincial enterprises and as facilitator, planner
for the creation of PEDO for the purpose of fostering and monitor of local economic projects and activities.
a supportive and competitive investment climate in
Guimaras. Proposed positions and structures were
created and the new set-up was approved, taking effect
in January 2004. Specifically, PEDO has the following

•  Retain and expand existing business in agriculture,

fishery and tourism;

•  Attract new investments in priority sectors of agri-

tourism, agriculture and fisheries;

•  Manage provincial government enterprises and

ensure effective business support policies and

•  Benchmark progress in Guimaras and best

practices nationwide; and

•  Strengthen the entrepreneurial capacity of

cooperatives, associations and groups.

The Structure PEDO’s mandate is also to manage and operate the

PEDO is headed by a Department Head who reports Guimaras Trade and Information Center (GTIC), a
directly to the governor. Key staff members are in charge showroom of all Guimaras products and services that
of the various sections of tourism promotion, investment also serves as a one-stop information centre for tourists,
promotion, employment and enterprise management. The investors, existing businesses, and business associations
office is tasked to build partnerships and linkages with responding to investment inquiries with data and advices.
other provincial departments, municipal governments, It also works with site selectors to promote new investment
national government agencies and the business sector to in Guimaras, conducts training sessions, and provides
implement various economic projects and programs. The business development services. GTIC supports small
partnerships are governed by Memoranda of Agreement entrepreneurs in trade and investment promotion, provides
(MOA) and managed by PEDO. business and economic information, promotes Guimaras
tourism and expedites investment generation for the island.
With 11 employees, PEDO has three divisions: Tourism
Development, which is in charge of tourism planning and The Innovation
implementation, monitoring, evaluation and promotion The Provincial Economic Development Office is not
and marketing; Cooperative Development, which takes among the departments officially listed in the Local
care of cooperative, farmer and fishermen organization Government Code of 1991, but considering that the law
development and training, linkage building and networking allows every local government unit in the Philippines to
and technical assistance to cooperative management; and design and implement its own organizational structure and
Trade, Investment and Employment Promotion, which is in staffing patterns based on its priority needs and service
requirements, the province of Guimaras opted for the

16 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: The Role of Local Governments in Economic Development

creation of PEDO after thoroughly assessing its conditions. government agencies operating in the province and various
private sector stakeholders, reorganized the Provincial
Transferability and Sustainability Local Government Unit (PLGU ) towards service efficiency,
The creation of PEDO was embodied in Resolution No. established a Provincial Economic Development Office
042, series of 2003, by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (PEDO) to coordinate all the economic concerns of the
(or Provincial legislature) of Guimaras which approved province, and instituted employment-oriented functional
the “Proposed New Plantilla Positions Structure of the units (under the PEDO).”
Provincial Government of the Province of Guimaras.”
The same was subsequently approved by the provincial Thus, the creation of PEDO illustrates that local economic
governor and took effect on January 2004. Its creation development is an important local government function
worked within the framework of the Local Government and that a system of a sound local governance based
Code of 1991 and, as such, can be replicated by any other on the principles of openness, accountability, efficiency
local government unit in the Philippines. and equity should be pushed. With a staffing pattern and
corresponding budget allocated year after year, PEDO is
A 2007 study by the International Labour Organization here to stay in Guimaras, having already become part of
noted: “... Guimaras also referred to the (Local Government the provincial structure.
Code) to convert the island into a province, investing in
an intensive and extensive consultation process with key With PEDO around, the economic future of Guimaras
officials and technical and support staff from the provincial, is being charted along the right path, helping surmount
municipal and barangay levels. It mobilized relevant line challenges like the oil spill of August 2006.

Building a Resilient Region 17

Public-private Partnerships and Community-based Tourism
Columnist-architect Augusto Villalon said that one of same newspaper’s headlines as the victim of the worst
his most prized memories from his visit to Guimaras was environmental disaster in the country’s history: an oil tanker
his time spent with a driver named Cristobal Gonzaga, a spill off the eastern coast of Guimaras on August 11, 2006,
resident of San Miguel village in Jordan Town. Cristobal not which dumped about two million litres of bunker fuel into
only drove Villalon, one of the Philippines’ foremost cultural the sea.
writers, around the island-province, but he also told stories
about the places he took him. The tragedy wreaked havoc not only on the island’s marine
reserves and the livelihood of its coastal residents, but also
Villalon, who writes a column in the Philippine Daily on the tourism industry that had anchored its growth on
Inquirer, later learned that Cristobal was among those the island-province’s pristine beaches and unspoiled diving
trained as a guide through an award-winning public-private spots.
partnership program for tourism development. The program
was piloted in Guimaras, an island in the heart of the The Promise of Tourism
Philippines around the size of Singapore, after it became a Prior to that tragic day, Guimaras was known foremost
full-fledged province in 1992. for its sweet mangoes and its vast mango orchards, its
numerous resorts, its religious sites and its local festivals.
“My great surprise in Guimaras was discovering people It was not a surprise, then, that when Guimaras became
like Cristobal, who give community tourism the respect it a full-fledged Philippine province 14 years before the oil
deserves. They take visitors to see their home province spill, tourism was seen as a major industry that could bring
with pride and dignity, leaving guests with an enjoyable development to the province.
experience and great memories of the place,” Villalon wrote
in his piece, “A day in Guimaras.” In fact, the province’s Medium-Term Provincial
Development Plan (1999-2004) identified tourism as the
Villalon is not the only visitor who has noticed how cornerstone of its economic development. The rationale
tourism, particularly community-based tourism, has for this choice was obvious: the 60,457-hectare island is
become everybody’s business in Guimaras. Over the teeming with tourism potential – from pristine beaches and
years, thousands of tourists have visited Guimaras and scenic landscapes to colourful festivals and rich cultural
left with memories of its natural beauty and its people’s traditions. In short, tourism promises a lot for Guimaras.
unique culture, thanks to a close collaboration between the
government and the private sector. The oil spill could have dampened every hope Guimaras
had for tourism, what with its beaches stained with slick.
Villalon’s article appeared in his newspaper’s May 5, 2007 But the despair was only short-lived. As soon as clean-up
issue. Amazingly, ten months before, Guimaras made the operations ended, the island’s tourism industry began to
bounce back.

A Strong Foundation
Indeed, the tourism industry in Guimaras
was built on a strong foundation – the
foundation of public-private partnerships,
or P3s. Simply put, the government,
the private sector and communities in
Guimaras came together to collaborate
in planning, developing, marketing and
implementing the province’s tourism

The P3 concept came to the forefront of the

tourism agenda after the 5 municipalities
and 96 barangays of Guimaras created
their respective strategic plans for
economic development. Through these
plans agriculture, fisheries and tourism
were identified as the economic drivers for
the province. But then there were great
challenges. The tourism industry was in

18 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: Public-Private Partnerships and Community-Based Tourism

disarray when Guimaras province was born; there was particularly for tourism.
uncoordinated development, low community awareness,
low capital investments and tourism products were A multi-stakeholder participatory planning process was
generally of poor quality. conducted to develop a framework for rehabilitation, which
called, among other things, for the restoration of the natural
To address these issues, industry players employed assets of Guimaras. Promotion and marketing activities
four approaches -- participatory planning, marketing were conducted, which included tourism exhibits and
and promotion, community-based initiatives and tourism assemblies as well as international tourism forums.
support services. And in all these strategies, close
collaboration between the provincial government and Community-based initiatives included introduction of new
national government agencies, and non-governmental programs geared towards rehabilitation like the Salvacion
organizations (NGOs) and communities was witnessed. Tourism Promotion and Development Support Project and
the Guisi Community-based Tourism Rehabilitation Support
Through participatory planning, stakeholders came Project that gave birth to the Guisi Discovery Quest and the
together to draw up a tourism master plan, develop new Sibiran Festival.
programs and install monitoring and evaluation systems for
the tourism industry. Helping Guimaras with these tourism To support the industry, the provincial government
development efforts was the Canadian Urban Institute, launched the Guimaras Responsive and Efficient
with funding from the Canadian International Development Approaches for Tourism Enhancement and Development
Agency. To market and promote Guimaras as a destination (GREATED) Initiatives which trained tourism front-liners
and as a tourism investment hub, new festivals and events and service providers through various applied seminars
were organized, promotional materials were developed, that improved their capabilities in providing efficient and
and there was full participation in trade fairs and exhibits. quality services to their clients.

The island of Guimaras offers visitors picturesque beaches and idyllic island escapes.

In community-based initiatives, community-tourism By making it easy to achieve the ends of all these
awareness campaigns were launched to educate the undertakings, public-private partnership made everyone
people about the impacts of tourism as well as the benefits in Guimaras co-owners of these initiatives, turning them
they could derive from tourism programs. This resulted in into proud inhabitants of an island-province teeming with
full community participation in festivals at various levels tourism potential.
and programs. A public market day festival was introduced
in Jordan town while in Nueva Valencia a community-based It is no wonder, therefore, that visitors like Augusto Villalon
heritage tourism project has been gaining ground. These can meet a Cristobal Gonzaga or any similar community
new events and destinations were complemented by home- leader as soon as they arrive at Guimaras.
stay projects.
Results and Gains
To support the tourism industry, the provincial government The oil spill of August 2006 interrupted the tourism
helped set up guest assistance centres and turned momentum in Guimaras, but it did not stop the province
these over to the municipalities for management. The from furthering its tourism drive. In fact, the oil spill brought
Guimaras Trade and Information Center (GTIC) was out the best in Guimaras with respect to public-private
opened to provide members of the Guimaras Producers partnerships for tourism development.
and Processors Association with a venue to showcase
their products. Organizations like the Guimaras Resorts Indeed, figures indicate a steady increase in foreign and
Association and the Tour Guides Guild of Guimaras were local tourism arrivals from 2001 to 2005. For example,
strengthened and now provide training assistance and the total arrivals in 2001 were recorded at 78,777. This
capacity-building support. increased by 38.91 percent the next year to 109,429, and
the following year it again jumped by 13.31 percent to
Repeating the Process 123,998. By 2004, the increase was registered at 10.19
Fast forward to the height of the oil spill – industry percent with 136,632 arrivals and went up further to
players simply repeated the process to survive the crisis, 181,915 in 2005, an increase of 33.14 percent.

Building a Resilient Region 19

Guimaras: Public-Private Partnerships and Community-Based Tourism

With increasing tourism arrivals come increasing tourism Empowering Effects

receipt figures. But what was noticeable was the continued As numbers reflect results, tourism development in
increase in tourism receipts in 2004 (24.03 percent) and Guimaras can also be seen via its empowering effects.
2005 (28.38 percent), even after the provincial government Communities in Guimaras have learned to plan and
of Guimaras trimmed down its budget allocation for tourism manage their own tourism projects and activities.
by 1.50 percent and 12.98 percent, respectively. In 2003 for Municipalities and barangays have also developed their
example, the provincial government allocated a budget of own cultural, historical and environmental festivals. Even
P2,337,000 (US$50,000) for tourism, an increase of 10.03 market vendors succeeded in launching their own activity
percent from the previous year’s allocation of P2,124,000 with the Panindahan sa Manggahan (Market Fair Day)
(US$45,000). Over this period, tourism receipts increased in a bid to highlight the terminal market as a tourism
by 21 percent from (US$2.25 million) to P128,320,500 destination.
(US$2.72 million).
Home-stay programs in Guimaras have been providing
By 2004, the budget allocation for tourism was trimmed cultural opportunities for tourists to learn about the culture
down to P2,302,000 (US$48,800) but despite that, tourism and rich heritage of the island. Farmers’ and fishers’ groups
receipts went up to P159,150,000 (US$3.38 million) or by have been formed not only for agriculture and aquaculture
24.03 percent. The following year, the budget allocation productivity but also to support tourism-related activities.
was further trimmed down by 12.98 percent to P2,003,250 Industry groups have been organized, among them tour
(US$42,000) but tourism receipts still went up by P28.38 guides, drivers, pumpboat operators, resort owners and
percent to P204,312,500 (US$4.34 million). producers and fishermen. All of these have
meant more capable tourism front-liners.

The experience of the Guisi Community-based

Heritage Tourism Project in Nueva Valencia
showcases how communities can effectively
and efficiently manage a tourism project once
their capacity to do so has been developed.
Thanks to modest financial assistance from
the provincial government, many lessons on
inn-keeping, organization, tourism and events
management, guest assistance and handling,
and marketing from eco seminars, workshops
and study tours, the people in the coastal
hamlet of Guisi successfully operate a tourism
venture that generates income both for the
province and for themselves.
After Guimaras was hit by the oil spill,
the Guisi community partnered with the
Department of Tourism (DOT) and the United
Nations Development Fund in launching the
eco-tourism tour package dubbed the Guisi
Discovery Quest, thus enhancing the tourism
experience in the community that made Guisi
a buzz-word among excursionists and eco-
After the infamous oil spill in the third quarter of 2006, tourists. Guisi boasts a white-sand beach and a Spanish-
tourism arrivals went down by 4.91 percent to 172,985. era lighthouse.
Guimaras tourism suffered more in 2007 when arrival
figures went down further to 156,423, a 9.57 percent DOT provided facilities for rappelling and snorkelling so
decline. Rehabilitation interventions gained in 2008, these services could be made available to guests. Select
with the tourism industry starting to recover with a slight community members were trained to serve as instructors.
increase in tourism arrivals of 1.29 percent, or to 158,441 Mountain bikes were also provided and a team from
from the previous year. the community was taught how to fix them in case of
breakdown, while another team was taught proper rowing
The provincial government of Guimaras increased its techniques. In partnership with the Technical Education
budget allocation for tourism in 2007 by 58.46 percent, or and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), another select
P3,040,000 (US$64,500), from the previous year’s budget team was trained on food preparation and food handling.
in response to the oil spill. While tourism arrivals registered Of late, community members organized the Sibiran Festival
an increase from 2008, tourism receipts were still low, a as a vehicle to revive the traditional way of fishing with the
6.46 percent decrease from the previous year. use of fish-friendly fishing gear to ensure and maintain the
ecological balance of the area.

20 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: Public-Private Partnerships and Community-Based Tourism

Galing Pook seeks to recognize and replicate outstanding

Proceeds and Profits Philippine best practices in governance that have
From these community initiatives, members derive extra effectively addressed pressing problems in their respective
income. Under the Guisi Discovery Quest for example, communities with innovative solutions.
a one-day tour for a minimum of five people costs P999
(US$21) each and includes use of mountain bikes, snorkels Lessons Learned
and other snorkelling gears, use of boats, an environmental The award was not surprising considering the valuable
fee for the cave, services of guides, and snacks and lunch. lessons the project can share. For one, it is evident from
Visitors can also add P120 (US$2.50) each if they want to the Guimaras experience that, for partnership to effectively
experience rappelling or P50 (US$1) each if they want to work, local governments need to play a lead role and must
visit the mangrove area. have a clear framework, strategy and action plan. In other
words, they must plan their work and work their plan.
Since the Guisi community-based heritage tourism
program was launched, it has already accommodated But for this plan to succeed, communities and private
3,148 guests, deriving an income of P313,448 (US$6,700). sector collaboration must be maximized. Partnerships are
In 2004, it earned P35,060 (US$745) from 211 guests, most effective when economic, environmental, social and
from which the Barangay Dolores Tourism Council (BDTC) cultural issues and solutions are interwoven.
that manages the project received only P765 (US$16),
with the rest going to community members. In 2005, the
project generated P51,827 (US$1,100) from 248 guests,
with the BDTC retaining only P895 (US$20). By 2007, its “Public-private partnership made everyone
income remarkably increased by 308 percent from the in Guimaras co-owners of these initiatives,
previous year. The project earned an impressive P95,965 turning them into proud inhabitants of
(US$2,037) with the BDTC getting a share of P4,145 an island-province teeming with tourism
(US$88). From January to July in 2008, the project had
already earned P107,014 (US$2,270). potential.”

Structures for Sustainability

Even before the oil spill struck Guimaras, organizations Lastly, it is clear that education and training are a must to
were already established to sustain the gains of the Public- turn stakeholders into partners for development. Capacity-
Private Partnerships in Tourism Development in Guimaras. building and tourism awareness programs have borne fruits
These include the creation of the Provincial Economic in Guimaras through community members like Cristobal
Development Office (PEDO) whose mandate is to support Gonzaga, a driver who represents what the island’s tourism
the promotion and marketing of the provincial tourism experience can truly offer.
program. PEDO also spearheaded rehabilitation initiatives
for tourism, creating opportunities for resorts to promote Summing up his brief visit in Guimaras with good words
and market their destinations and assisting communities to about Cristobal, columnist Augusto Villalon wrote,
develop local festivals and events. “Because of people like him, I plan to go back to Guimaras
to see everything I did not experience in the one day that I
Municipal Tourism Offices - which regulate tourism spent there.”
activities at the municipal level - and Barangay Tourism
Councils - which help implement community-based projects
- were strengthened and made fully functional. Tourism
legislation was enacted to provide support mechanisms for
programs and projects.

PEDO and the local tourism councils have been effective

in cushioning the adverse impact of the oil spill among
communities, and have even quickly responded to the
disaster by mobilizing coastal residents in clean-up drives
and in planning and implementing rehabilitation programs
for tourism ventures in affected villages.

Galing Pook Award

Because of its outstanding accomplishments, this initiative,
packaged and named Public-Private Partnerships in
Tourism Development in Guimaras, was awarded a
Galing Pook Award in 2004 as one of 20 models of
excellence in good governance in the Philippines. The

Building a Resilient Region 21

Iloilo City
Securing the City Through Community-based Policing
In the Philippines, the maintenance of local peace and ronda system under Presidential Decree No. 1232, which
order and the promotion of public safety rest primarily instructs every barangay to organize Barangay Security
not with the local police, but rather with members of each and Development Officers, or more popularly known as the
community who monitor each and every village, particularly Barangay Tanod, whose main tasks include intelligence
at night. Armed not with guns but with nightsticks and information gathering, neighbourhood watch and medical
flashlights, they protect their villages either on foot or on and traffic assistance, among others.
pedicabs, or if the village is affluent enough, in their own
patrol car. They know almost everyone in the community, The Local Government Code of 1991, boosted the
and they are on-call 24 hours a day. barangay tanod, recognizing it as an indispensable
instrument in barangay government,
particularly in its role in the maintenance
and protection of peace and security and
in the promotion of public safety, and
mandated that they be granted honoraria
and state insurance benefits.

Sadly, most barangay tanods are poorly

equipped and untrained to respond to
the call of duty, defeating their purpose
of being at the forefront of the peace and
order campaign. In most cases, they must
settle for passive tasks like being traffic
aides and parking attendants during the
day, and vigil guards during the night,
an open admission that they cannot do
what is expected of them because they
lack equipment and training. Further,
community support is wanting.

Only barangay tanods in posh villages

are lucky enough to make their rounds
in patrol cars, and arm themselves with
pepper spray, zapsticks, walkie-talkies
and electric lanterns. Also fortunate are
those whose barangay captains gain the
favour of the mayor or the congressman,
earning for the community police, patrol
cars, uniforms that banner the names of
politicians and other equipment.

These individuals belong to a volunteer group called Recognizing Resourcefulness

Barangay Tanod (community police officers), a concept The sad fate of most barangay tanods is also felt in Metro
that evolved from the ronda system instituted during the Iloilo, where there are 277 units representing its villages,
Spanish colonial regime where able men in the community most of them operating on the meagre support of the
were tapped to patrol the village during the night as a barangay and sometimes relying on donations from the
means of deterring assemblies by dissenters and criminals. private sector and minimal assistance from the municipal
Each evening, they took turns in making their ronda or city governments. Interestingly, some of them rendered
(Spanish for rounds) of the village in pairs until daybreak, impressive service even with a measly budget, employing
starting and ending in full circles at the garrita – a small hut resourcefulness and building community rapport to make
serving as their gathering and resting place. Initially, the their units effective and efficient.
ronda system was instituted by the authoritarian Spanish
regime during the colonial period, implemented not just Highlighting the innovation and efficacy of these units is
as a deterrent to crimes but also to prevent Filipinos from not only a way of honouring the proficient ones but also
talking to each other. of inspiring and encouraging others to reach for such
competence. It is also a means of earning barangay
In 1977, President Ferdinand Marcos institutionalized the council and community support for the tanod, increasing

22 Building a Resilient Region

Iloilo City: Securing the City with Community-based Policing

appreciation of their role in the

peace and order campaign
and establishing a network of
information essential to public

To improve the services of

the barangay tanod through
capacity building and
improvement of facilities,
equipment and systems, the
then Metro Iloilo Development
Council (MIDC) launched the
Search for Model Barangay
Tanod, a project that ran from
2003 to 2007. The last two
years of the program were
under the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras
Economic Development Council
(MIGEDC) which replaced
the MIDC after the latter was
expanded to include Guimaras
and the town of Santa Barbara
in Iloilo.

The project aimed to recognize

the role of barangay tanods in
deterring crime and terrorist
activities and in maintaining
peace and order through the
It is a relatively peaceful community but Barangay
visibility of uniformed men and women in the community.
Captain (village chief) Perla Guinea admits that there
Managed by the Public Safety and Security Committee
are a few cases of domestic squabbles, petty crimes and
(PSSC), its components included basic and advanced
disturbances, especially from rowdy teenagers who engage
training, study tours, improvement of facilities, equipment
in occasional brawls. On a few occasions some students
and systems, promotion of partnership with other
have been involved in theft and robbery.
government agencies, business and non-governmental
organizations and soliciting added barangay council
But by and large, the peace and order situation in
support for their respective barangay tanod.
Barangay M. V. Hechanova remains at a desirable level.
“Our tanods have been very diligent and efficient in their
Because of its outstanding features, the program was
guard duties because they know that the barangay council
adopted by CUI’s long standing partner, the Department
has been very supportive of them,” Guinea beams.
of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) into a
national search for the outstanding barangay tanod. To
The barangay’s yearly appropriation ordinance affirms
avoid duplication, the MIGEDC Public Safety and Security
Guinea’s statement. In 2003, the barangay council of M. V.
Committee transformed its program into the annual search
Hechanova allocated P123,000 (US$2,600) for the monthly
for the Model Public Safety and Security Offices and
allowances of its 18 tanods, and P16,000 (US$330) for
Officers, which now include categories for the police, fire
their uniforms, supplies and other operating expenses.
bureau, jail officers and rescue volunteers, among others.
By 2005, the monthly allowance allocation increased to
P143,400 (US$3,000) while uniform and other expenses
Consistent Winners rose to P25,867 (US$540).
Back to the outstanding tanod contest however, a
consistent winner was the tanod unit of Barangay M. V. The monthly allowances for the tanod commander also
Hechanova in the district of Jaro in Iloilo City, which plays rose and on top of these increases, they were also given
host to three subdivisions and at least 4,026 villagers from health insurance benefits.
varied social strata. It has rich subdivision dwellers, middle-
class families and poor squatters. With an area of about Equipment was also provided to them including a patrol
80 hectares, the number of commercial establishments car, motorcycles, radio transceivers, nightsticks, handcuffs,
has mushroomed in the barangay (village) to address pepper spray, flashlights and first-aid kits. The tanod
consumer needs. outpost in the area has a detention centre where they can

Building a Resilient Region 23

Iloilo City: Securing the City with Community-based Policing

temporarily detain transgressors before they are turned also involved in the barangay’s cleanliness and tree-
over to the police. They recorded a number of crime planting programs and in providing safety assistance to
fighting accomplishments and assisted the police in various pedestrians and security services during community events
drug-bust operations. like parochial fiesta and school activities. The village’s
Parish Pastoral Council and the Gran Plains Subdivision
Proactive Response Homeowners Association, Inc. commended them for their
In Barangay Aganan in Pavia town in Metro Iloilo, the efficiency.
barangay tanod unit is noted for its proactive response to
the peace and order campaign. Being resourceful, they Aside from Gran Plains Subdivision, Barangay M.
used heavy-duty beam lights that can reach across spans V. Hechanova also hosts the San Isidro Village, the
of rice fields during pursuit and patrol operations. Because Jalbuena Subdivision and a portion of the Phase 3 area
Pavia is a major of Alta Tierra Village.
exit point from The tanods, mostly in
Iloilo City, the their 50s, also patrol
tanod outpost is these areas regularly,
equipped with especially during the
an AM radio evening. Individually,
for monitoring the tanods in Barangay
of reports M. V. Hechanova have
on criminal received a number
activities. When of citations and
a suspect recognitions, some of
escapes the them given as early as
city either 1994.
through the
northwestern To further empower the
(Jaro district) tanods, they have been
or southern sent to attend seminars
(Mandurriao and workshops on
district) exits, various topics, among
tanod members them training sessions on
can easily set basic security measures
up a blockade for barangay tanods,
to make an arrest. on search and rescue
operations, on illegal drugs, and on bomb and explosives
The unit has four bicycles and seven pedicabs serving as safety. These seminars are given by the Philippine National
patrol vehicles. Tanod members also have rubber boots Police (PNP), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
that enable them to patrol watered rice fields. They have (PDEA), and the barangay council.
raincoats to protect them from rain and standby sandbags
in the event that the Aganan River, which separates The diligence and efficiency of the barangay tanods of
the flood-prone village from the town proper, overflows Aganan and M. V. Hechanova can be attributed to the
during heavy rains in the mountains. First aid and support provided by their respective barangay councils,
disaster preparedness were among the various capacity and to their personal development as a result of their
development trainings that they have attended. attendance in trainings, seminars, and lectures on various
social issues.
Because of the hard work and competence of the tanods
of Barangay M. V. Hechanova, the relatively well-off While a lack of finances continues to be a problem, this
homeowners at Gran Plains Subdivision stopped hiring the does not deter the barangay tanods from performing
services of private security agencies in 2000 to secure the well. Aside from making maximum use of their budget,
area. It is now the tanods that have been posted to guard resourcefulness, and capabilities, these tanods have the
the gates of the subdivision. encouraging support of their partners in local governments,
national government agencies and the private sector.
Because of an attentive scheduling program, the Tanod
Outpost in the subdivision is well-staffed, at times with as Notably, both tanod units of Aganan and M. V. Hechanova
many as six tanods. “The visibility of the tanods in the area have also been consistent winners in the DILG’s annual
made our barangay relatively peaceful.” search for outstanding barangay tanods, proof of the
consistency of their exemplary performance brought about
Community Involvement by strong local partnerships for the promotion of public
Aside from conducting nightly patrol, the tanods are safety and security.

24 Building a Resilient Region

Metro Iloilo
A Metropolitan Alliance to Improve Urban Health Services
The enactment of Republic Act 7160,
also known as the Local Government
Code of 1991, saw the devolution of
health services from the national to local
governments. Initially, this was viewed
as a welcome development as it had
the potential to give local governments
a direct hand in addressing their
citizens’ health concerns. Health issues
differ from one municipality to another,
and it was hoped that relegating
health services management to local
governments would improve responses
to diseases and other health-related
matters with targeted programs.

Further, procurement of medicines

became localized, meaning that
municipalities were able to acquire only
those medicines that were most needed
by their population. This was not always
the case; a popular story still circulates
about how the Department of Health
(DOH) once sent boxes of anti-malaria
drugs to a town where there had never Council (MIDC) on February 9, 2001, (later to be expanded
been any history of the disease! into the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development
Council (MIGEDC) to include the island-province of
But devolution only transferred the responsibility for health Guimaras and the municipality of Santa Barbara, Iloilo).
to local governments, not any corresponding funding.
Unprepared local governments had to pay for the salaries The MIDC initially agreed to collaborate on six areas:
and benefits of about 70,000 health workers and finance Economic Promotions, Infrastructure Development,
the health centres and hospitals under their jurisdiction. Land Use and Management, Public Safety and Security,
Unsurprisingly, the quality of health services declined. The Environmental Management and Basic Services Delivery.
upgrading of health facilities and infrastructure had to be Committees were created to take charge of each area.
set aside and local governments had to suspend much- With MIGEDC’s establishment, two new committees
needed training sessions for health personnel. were added – tourism development and special projects
development. Under the Basic Services Delivery
Without a sufficient budget for health services, local Committee are sub-sectors, which include Education,
governments found themselves in a quandary as to Housing, Social Welfare, Water and Sanitation and Health.
how to effectively respond to the health needs of their
constituents. Fortunately, the Local Government Code of The Referral System
1991 also allowed local governments to pool resources The decline of the quality of health services following
and collaborate together to address common problems, devolution can be attributed to various reasons, including
including health. This was strengthened further when, understaffing (despite high expenditures on personnel),
in 1998, a concept for an inter-local government health a critical lack of operating expenses, and decaying
system based on Inter Local Health Zones (ILHZ) was infrastructure. One program that was introduced to address
proposed as a mechanism to foster greater collaboration these problems was the Health Referral System.
and coordination for health.
In its wider context, this includes referral from the
In the same year that the ILHZ concept was born, an community level to the highest level of care and back (two-
initiative to design an inter-local government cooperative way referral system). Within the health facility (hospital or
arrangement among Iloilo City and the adjacent health centre), there is also an internal system among the
municipalities of Leganes, Oton, Pavia, and San Miguel hospital departments or the health personnel involved. This
was launched, culminating in the signing of a memorandum system involves not only direct patient care, but support
of agreement that created the Metro Iloilo Development services as well, such as knowing where to get transport
services to move a patient from one facility to the other.

Building a Resilient Region 25

Metro Iloilo: A Metropolitan Alliance to Improve Urban Health Services

The health referral system, therefore, is a two-way through the discussion of organizational structure,
relationship that requires cooperation, coordination, and relationships, and coordination mechanisms.
exchange of information between the primary health
facility and the first referral hospital during the referral The plan contains strategies to institutionalize and
and discharge of the patient from the hospital. It is also strengthen the referral system. It went through several
an organizational structure for coordinating, linking, and revisions as experts and stakeholders of the MIHA were
possibly transferring care for medical problems from a invited to comment and give their suggestions. The
generalist to specialist, or from a specialist to another collaboration was primarily to generate co-ownership for
specialist. the plan and ultimately foster a collective commitment in
carrying out its implementation.
However, a weak referral system wastes scarce
health resources through the duplication of services. MIHA is being managed by the MIHA Board, which serves
Inappropriate services, delayed referral, and poor referral as its unifying, policy and decision-making body. It is
communications also increase the rate of ailments and composed of the mayors of the local governments under
deaths. In Metro Iloilo, problems plagued the referrals of the alliance, the chiefs of the two referral hospitals, the
patients from the municipal level to the tertiary hospitals. Iloilo City health officer, health representatives of the four
municipalities, a representative of a non-governmental
Thus, the Basic Services Delivery Committee of the MIDC organization (NGO), representatives of the city, and
saw the need to develop a functional two-way referral municipal councils of the local governments, and two
system. The two-way referral system occurs when a patient administrative officers. MIHA’s head is the chairperson of
needs expert advice, when a patient needs a technical the Basic Services Delivery Committee, who is assisted by
examination that is not available at the health centres, the chiefs of the two hospitals and the four other mayors as
when a patient requires a technical intervention that is vice chairpersons.
beyond the capabilities of the health centre or when a
patient requires in-patient care. MIHA initially operated on a budget allocated to the
committee, which was part of the P100,000 (US$2,100)
The Alliance contribution of the five local government units that
To generate, mobilize and tap essential resources for composed the MIDC. They also agreed to contribute
sustainable hospital and public health services within the P25,000 (US$530) each for the support of MIHA.
Metro Iloilo region, the Metro Iloilo Health Alliance (MIHA) Subsequent contributions based on health plans and
was created, with the five mayors and the chiefs of the two activities will be discussed and agreed upon by the board
referral hospitals – the Western Visayas Medical Center of directors.
(WVMC) and the West Visayas State University Medical
Center (WVSUMC) – signing a memorandum of agreement But with the establishment of MIGEDC, the annual
to establish it on May 12, 2005. The Philippines’ first allocation for MIHA operations was temporarily set aside
metropolitan inter-local health zone, MIHA was created and until a new board could be reconstituted. However, the
strengthened through the support of the Canadian Urban so-called “hibernation” of the MIHA board did not affect
Institute, with funding from the Canadian International what it had put in place, such as the referral system that
Development Agency. has been “sanctified by usage” by health care providers in
the region. In fact, it has become a self-sustaining system,
In this arrangement, the WVMC and the WVSUMC serve continuously working with or without specific budgetary
as the main point of referral for hospital services from the allocation.
community, private medical practitioners, the barangay
health stations (BHS), and the rural health units (RHUs). Inter-Local Health Zone
Through these hospitals, patients can get tertiary care MIHA functions similarly to the Inter-Local Health Zone
such as laboratory and radiological diagnostic services, (ILHZ), a health care program initiated by the Department
in-patient care, and surgical services sufficient to provide of Health (DOH) in which individuals, communities, and all
emergency care for basic life threatening conditions, other health care providers in a well-defined geographical
obstetrics, and trauma. area participate together in providing quality, equitable,
and accessible health care with inter-local government
To serve as the operations manual of the MIHA, the partnership as the basic framework. But unlike the existing
committee came up with an Integrated Health Plan, a ILHZs, MIHA has two core referral hospitals instead of one.
consolidation of the individual health plans of all member
local governments to ensure that the MIHA would be The first inter-local health zone in the Philippines in a
responsive to the needs of the entire population. The metropolitan setting, MIHA members are also part of
Integrated Health Plan entailed the adoption of a unifying other ILHZs established by the DOH, which thus gave
vision and mission and a situation analysis of external and their constituents “the best of both worlds” in health care.
internal environmental conditions that affect the Metro Iloilo Patients from the municipal level can be referred to any
region. It also required clear definition of the roles of each of the core referral hospitals, either within the DOH-
level of service and facility, including other stakeholders, established ILHZ or MIHA.

26 Building a Resilient Region

Metro Iloilo: A Metropolitan Alliance to Improve Urban Health Services

Pavia is with the cluster that also consists of

the towns of Cabatuan, Maasin and Santa
Barbara with the Ramon Tabiana Memorial
District Hospital in Cabatuan as the core
referral hospital. Leganes is with the Central
Inter-Local Health Zone, which has the Iloilo
Provincial Hospital in Pototan town as the core
referral hospital. Oton is with the Southern Inter-
Local Health Zone, with the Don Pedro Trono
Memorial Hospital in Guimbal town as the core
referral hospital. San Miguel is with the Aleosan
Inter-Local Health Zone, the cluster composed
of Alimodian, Leon and San Miguel, with the
Aleosan District Hospital in Alimodian as the
core referral hospital.

Health Financing
To ensure that quality health care is not
compromised despite the inability of many
of its constituents to pay for it, MIHA has
adopted a health financing scheme through
the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
(PhilHealth). The alliance intends to enroll its outstanding health stations and health workers, the
constituents in the national health insurance program program was also a vehicle for documenting best practices
to guarantee that their health needs are immediately in health service delivery.
addressed. The scheme involves improving program
benefits, expanding its membership base, and then using
Key Concerns
benefit-spending to leverage effective quality care. It also
MIHA, as part of its management strategy, conducts regular
allows for cost recovery in the hospital and RHUs through
reviews and assessments of the following:
a reimbursement scheme and capital fund, which can be
spent to further improve health services in both facilities.
•  The health situation and the identified prevailing
health problems that need to be addressed as soon as
Information System possible.
MIHA seeks to establish an Integrated Alliance Health •  The management service output and extent of
Management and Information System to address one coordination of all BHSs, RHUs, the City Health Office,
weak area in the establishment of ILHZs, which is health district health centres, and the two hospitals – WVMC
information and management. This is being done through and WVSUMC.
a computerized network and community-based health data •  The existing human resource capabilities including
board that uses the results of the Minimum Basic Needs Community Volunteer Health Workers (CVHWs) and the
(MBN) Survey and makes it responsive to local planning, Traditional Health Birth Attendants.
monitoring, and referral and disease surveillance. MBN •  The facilities according to availability and functionality
Surveys are done to find out the basic needs of a Filipino in accordance with Sentrong Sigla and PhilHealth
family for survival, security and empowerment, MBN being accreditation. (Sentrong Sigla is a quality assurance
defined as the minimum criteria for attaining a decent program that seeks to improve health services delivery
quality of life. MIHA would therefore invest in equipment by providing seals of excellence to health centres that
such as telephones, computers and printers, software, and have met the Department of Health standards.)
training of personnel involved in the information system, •  The procurement system of essential drugs, in
based on the results of the MBN Surveys. terms of price, quality and conformity to the National
Drug Formulary of Republic Act No. 6675 or the
Promoting Effective and Quality Health Care Generics Drugs Law – which seeks to promote, require
Supporting the MIHA program, in 2008 the MIGEDC’s and ensure the production of an adequate supply,
Basic Services Delivery Committee launched the annual distribution, use and acceptance of drugs and medicines
search for the model municipal health station to promote identified by their generic names – through the MIHA
effective and quality health care among municipalities, Therapeutic Committee.
which now include the five towns in the island-province
of Guimaras and the town of Santa Barbara in Iloilo, a MIHA implements the Sentrong Sigla standards and
new addition to the Metro Iloilo circle. Dubbed “Sentro “Center of Wellness” of the DOH focusing and working
Obligado,” the program sought the development of toward improved quality of services. Finally, MIHA
efficiency among health personnel. Aside from honouring encourages partnership and networking among local

Building a Resilient Region 27

Metro Iloilo: A Metropolitan Alliance to Improve Urban Health Services

Linkage Building. The

key players involved
in MIHA include local
health officers as
lead persons, local
chief executives and
other government
officials to ensure the
of the system and
funding, community
health workers as
leaders and conduits
of communication,
community members
as partners in
development, non-
organizations as policy-
making contributors,
the private sector as
patrons and donors,
and the Department
governments, national government agencies, state of Health (DOH) for
universities and colleges, communities, and non- technical leadership on local health systems.
governmental organizations, or people’s organizations
working within the alliance. Efficiency in Health Care Services. Through the referral
system, MIHA sees that there is no duplication of health
Monitoring and Evaluation services and under-utilization of primary and secondary
To continuously improve its functions, MIHA implements government hospitals, thus making the delivery of
a regular monitoring and evaluation process to assess its services efficient. On the other hand, the availability of
work and find room for improvements. MIHA is evaluated appropriate services, on-time referral and improved referral
based on the following: communications result in increased effectiveness.

•  Services meet the needs of the population. Transferability and Sustainability. MIHA showcases
•  Services are efficient, fast and streamlined. how inter-local government cooperation on health can
•  Services are accessible, both physically and work. Legal provisions governing inter-local government
financially. cooperation can be applied to any cluster of local
•  Personnel are friendly and courteous. governments, and therefore can be replicated anywhere.
•  Services are equitable. The memoranda of agreement that created both the
•  There is inter-local government cooperation. MIDC and, later, MIGEDC and the MIHA, guarantee the
continued operation of the alliance even with changes
Surveys, focus group discussions, formal and informal in leadership in national and local governments due to
interviews and personnel performance evaluations were elections.
also done.
In the long run, MIHA can bring about:
Results and Impact
•  Quality hospital and RHU services
Direct Benefits. Due to accessibility, convenience and
•  A functional referral system
a higher level of health care, patients coming from the
•  Integrated health planning
municipal level are usually referred either to WVMC or the
•  An established health information system
WVSUMC instead of the core referral hospitals in their
•  Well-developed human resources
respective DOH-established ILHZs. This proved beneficial
•  Financially viable or self-sustaining hospitals
to the residents of Metropolitan Iloilo considering that they
•  Integrated public health and curative hospital care
immediately get much-needed quality medical attention
•  Strengthened cooperation between local
with expediency. The PhilHealth financing scheme that is
governments and the health sector
a major component of MIHA guarantees that low-income
residents can avail themselves of quality health care

28 Building a Resilient Region

Metro Iloilo
Managing Rapid Urban Growth through Integrated Land Use
The oil spill that hit Guimaras in central
Philippines in August 2006 displayed both the
fragility of the environment and the fact that
nature is not constrained by political borders.
The disaster not only affected the island-
province, but the neighbouring provinces of
Negros Occidental and Iloilo as well.

City-region building acknowledges the multiplicity

of other kinds of borders - ecological, social and
environmental - through the management of
their overlapping spaces. Thus, when the Metro
Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council
(MIGEDC) was created a few weeks after
the oil spill, the Metro Iloilo region of six local
governments and the province of Guimaras were
included in its jurisdiction. MIGEDC was formally
established by President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo through Executive Order No. 559,
signed on August 28, 2006, and was designed
to help address the area’s emerging problems
brought about by rapid urbanization and the
spatial development challenges of tourism and
economic development. Guimaras felt the need for a similar growth management
plan. The resulting plan, called Metro Iloilo-Guimaras
The creation of MIGEDC was inspired by earlier initiatives, Integrated Spatial Development Framework (MIGISDF),
particularly the Metro Iloilo Development Council (MIDC) was so named so as not to be confused with the nature
that was formed by Iloilo City and towns of Leganes, Oton, and purpose of other regional, provincial, city municipal
Pavia, and San Miguel on February 9, 2001, and the and other development plans.
Guimaras-Iloilo City Alliance that was similarly established
on May 22, 2005. Merging these two regional alliances, Now that MIDC has become MIGEDC, the concepts and
along with the urbanizing town of Santa Barbara, gave birth ideas of MIDC, particularly in spatial development, have not
to the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras region. been totally forgotten. In fact, most spatial concepts in the
MIGISDF derive from the Metro Iloilo Physical Framework
In 2005, MIDC already saw a need to shape the region’s Plan (MIPFP). During the process of preparing the spatial
growth and development. This prompted the council to plan for Metro Iloilo-Guimaras, other plans were taken into
formulate a regional growth management strategy, which consideration and integrated into the MIGISDF.
eventually led to the preparation of the Metro Iloilo Physical
Framework Plan (MIPFP), a document that served as the Some of these were the MIGEDC Road Map 2015,
overall policy framework for planning and development Issues Paper and Metro Iloilo Strategic Plan 2006-
decisions within and across the five local government units. 2010. These documents were produced out of the Local
Governance Development Program (LGDP), an initiative
The plan became a tool with which to manage growth to that was funded by the Australian Government through
enhance the quality of life for residents across the urban the Australian Agency for International Development
region. Due to the urgency of the problems that were being (AusAID) and was implemented by Coffey International
experienced in Metro Iloilo and given the need to make Development, an Australian development specialist group,
the region viable as an economic, industrial, commercial, in association with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI).
cultural, and political centre of the country, the preparation
of the plan was given top priority, and was eventually CUI, through its Canada-Philippines Partnership Program
completed in 2006. for Good Urban Governance funded by the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA), had assisted
A New Region Emerges the erstwhile MIDC in preparing the MIPFP. The formulation
But just as the MIPFP was adopted, the oil spill struck of the plan involved a six-step process – the review of
and MIGEDC was established. As a region, Metro Iloilo- existing municipal and city comprehensive land use plans;

Building a Resilient Region 29

Metro iloilo: Managing Rapid Urban Growth through Integrated Land Use Planning

information gathering, analysis and mapping; sectoral consequences of urbanization, as do the adjacent
consultations and reports; initial public consultation; municipalities. Urban sprawl, for instance, has left adjacent
preparation of a draft metropolitan plan; and final public municipalities in land use conflict, and some agricultural
consultation and approval of the plan. lands have become threatened because of residential
expansion. Real estate development in Iloilo City and in the
Developing the Framework four adjacent municipalities has never been so aggressive
In satisfying the need to come up with an ideal spatial because of the growing demands for housing.
plan, MIGEDC must be consistent with plans individually
prepared by their member local governments and their Many residents of Leganes, Pavia, Oton, San Miguel,
regional alliances. These plans include the draft of the Santa Barbara, and Guimaras commute to Iloilo City
Sta. Barbara Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Guimaras for education, employment or business, among other
Physical Framework Plan, and the Comprehensive Land reasons. People from these municipalities contribute to
Use Plan of Iloilo City. MIGEDC had also completed the the observed higher daytime population density in the city
MIG Integrated Regional and Urban Infrastructure Plan compared to its night-time population. Issues ranging from
and the Tourism Strategy Action Plan, which were vital for traffic management to road quality to the availability of
preparing the MIGISDF. public infrastructure have been noted as requirements for
supporting the needs of the population through effective
Furthermore, in the light of the Joint Memorandum Circular public service delivery.
No. 1 issued in 2007, these plans and frameworks must be
synchronized with the plans of the National Government The population in the region will reach more than 1.2
Agencies (NGAs) with respect to existing processes million in 2023, approximately twice the population in 2000.
and procedures. The circular – jointly issued by the Most of the members of the regional population are young
Department of the Interior and Local Government, the citizens, thus MIGEDC needs to understand the issues
National Economic Development Authority, the Department affecting this age group, such as employment, education
of Budget and Management, and the Department of and housing. Servicing the demands of a young population
Finance – calls for harmonized planning, investment will affect the economic, physical and social development
programming, budgeting, revenue administration, and of MIGEDC for the next fifteen years, but concerns for the
expenditure management. It has been hailed as a landmark conservation of natural resources still remain a challenge
policy on local development processes. for sustainable urban growth. In due time, the young
population will also age, thus MIGEDC must be able to
The processes of developing the MIGISDF involved the prepare its environment for the safety and convenience of
following: future seniors.
•  Orientating stakeholders on the Planning Context
following the JMC process; Rapid population growth, dramatic changes in production
•  Reviewing various plans and framework using the and consumption patterns and massive rural to urban
JMC process; migration have all contributed to environmental degradation
•  Integrating assessments and plans using the JMC in the MIG region. Unless environmental degradation is
process; arrested, the growth rates necessary to reduce poverty will
•  Conducting workshops to validate and complete the not be sustained and the Millennium Development Goals
rest of the plan sections; will not be achieved.
•  Preparing GIS based maps to highlight issues and
strategic frameworks; It has become clear that the increasing populace and
•  Preparing Issues Paper to present key opportunities dynamism of Iloilo City call for integrated growth and
and challenges; expansion management strategies with neighbouring
•  Reviewing the MIGEDC Roadmap; and municipalities. A combined effort among the seven
•  Writing a MIGISDF draft. concerned local governments to shift current policies to
encourage investment and development in designated
The final draft of the MIGISDF will go through the same urban centres can help address this need.
approval process as the MIPFP. The spatial framework
shall be reviewed by the stakeholders, presented to the Supporting a Vision
MIGEDC Executive Council and the respective LGU The MIGISDF 2008-2023 supports the metropolitan
members will adopt the framework once it is approved. vision to create “[a] highly liveable region of God-loving
and educated people working together for a progressive,
The Need for a Framework self reliant, and sustainable community” by improving
A survey of cities in the Philippines conducted by the cooperation and partnerships between the member
Asian Institute of Management in 2002 ranked Iloilo City LGUs in the management of social, economic and natural
as the most competitive mid-sized city in terms of local environments of Metro Iloilo-Guimaras.
economy in the country. Just like any developing city,
Iloilo experiences both the positive and the negative The MIGISDF illustrates how the residents of Metro Iloilo-
Guimaras want their community to grow and change in the

30 Building a Resilient Region

Metro Iloilo: Managing Rapid Urban Growth through Integrated Land Use Planning

future. It describes the community’s collective vision for the the local government units could easily adopt them and
sustainable management of the public realm and shared create their own specific programs and policies.
community assets like air, land and water resources,
and sets goals for economic development, effective The MIGISDF presents how land – the basic economic
transportation networks and community well-being. As a resource – should be used efficiently and effectively, so
developing region, Metro Iloilo-Guimaras needs strong as to capitalize on the various strengths of the seven
direction in order to avoid the potential negative impacts local governments, and to successfully manage potential
of uncontrolled development on the quality of life of its conflicts between adjoining land uses. Essentially, it sets a
residents. framework to ensure that urban growth occurs in an orderly
manner, and decisions are not made on an ad-hoc basis.
Using current data and land use policies from the seven
local governments, the MIGISDF was designed to provide The MIGISDF has been prepared with regards to the
a flexible and adaptable mechanism for guiding the future plans and policy frameworks of the national and provincial
physical form of Metro Iloilo-Guimaras. It presents an authorities, as well as global objectives. The plan will thus
indicative spatial lay-out of the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras for the be submitted to the relevant agencies for integration into
next fifteen years. The local government members should the wider development planning system.
consider the goals and objectives of the spatial framework
in formulating or updating their respective comprehensive Links with Regional Plans
land use plans and other specific development plans. The MIGISDF adheres to the principles in the National
In a way, the integrated spatial development plan will Framework for Physical Planning (NFPP) as well as the
serve as a guide or link among these plans to have a Regional Physical Framework Plan for Western Visayas
more collaborative approach in facing the challenges and (Region VI), which state that land use and related planning
opportunities of urbanization. activities shall be undertaken within the context of the
principles that support the allocation and use physical
Understanding land uses through quantitative data is not resources such as land and water with due regards to their
the foundation of this framework, but rather identifying sustainability.
the characteristics
of land uses and What makes MIGISDF unique is
providing schemes that unlike other land use plans
for their locations. associated with a formal political
The allocation jurisdiction, strategic documents
of land uses like the MIGISDF are encouraged
presented in the among local governments but
spatial development not mandated. The framework
framework maps has distinct ways of presenting
serves as a model its objectives, strategies, and
providing possible preferred roles. MIGISDF has
solutions to issues also given a new meaning to
of land use in Metro the word “region”. Though a
Iloilo-Guimaras, mandated regional plan covers
and as a guide in the whole region as its scope
operationalizing (in this case, MIGEDC is within
and managing the the official region of Western
physical growth of Visayas), MIGISDF uses the term
the region. MIGISDF “region” to refer only to the seven
does not conflict with local governments of MIGEDC
the regional plans; rather it integrates them in the entire (i.e. a city, a province and five municipalities). Thus, the
framework through concepts, options and strategies. land use plan produced by these LGUs through their
collaborative relationship does not conform to any standard
The creation of the MIGSDF involved a number of categories of plans in the Philippines, such as a regional or
workshops and consultations in order to come up with provincial plan.
community-generated solutions for developing the region.
Thus the interpretation of some metropolitan characteristics Indeed, the uniqueness of the MIGISDF was also brought
may vary from the perception of the planners, local officials, about by the fact that MIGEDC is a unique alliance. It
consultants, and other stakeholders. groups together varying types of communities – a highly
urbanized city, rapidly urbanizing municipalities, and a peri-
Each local government has a certain rate of economic urban island-province – into one to be developed under
or physical development. They have their own physical, one spatial framework. And the MIGISDF may just be a
cultural and legislative factors to consider. Thus, the small step for MIGEDC, but it is a giant leap for the Metro
strategies in the MIGISDF were addressed in such a way Iloilo-Guimaras Region.

Building a Resilient Region 31

Metro Iloilo Guimaras
Metro-wide Investment Promotion
Over the past few decades, local governments in the Iloilo City. The city government found it difficult to handle
Philippines have been doing their best to attract investors. the concerns of the investors because there was no office
The logic is simple -- investments generate much- that could provide all the information that they needed.
needed taxes for local governments and create jobs for This prompted Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to call for a
their residents. And a rapidly-growing urbanizing region meeting with DTI where a task force was created to look
like Metro Iloilo needs both taxes and jobs to survive into how to address the problem – the aptly named Task
the challenges of poverty, poor service delivery and Force on Economic Promotions (TFEP).
inadequacy of infrastructure, among others.
Replicating Cebu
The partnership arrangement that led to the birth of the It was the TFEP that recommended the creation of a one-
Metro Iloilo region following the establishment of the stop shop which would serve as the entry point for new
Metro Iloilo Development Council (MIDC) in 2001 has investors as well as a repository of information for those
inspired its own strategy to attract investors – one also who were already in place. It was modeled after the Cebu
marked by partnership. It is this partnership that led to the Investment Promotion Center (CIPC), which has played an
creation of the Iloilo Investment Promotion Center (IIPC), invaluable role in promoting Cebu as a prime investment
the body tasked to promote Metro Iloilo as an investment hub in the country. Acknowledged as a pre-eminent
destination. It also serves as a repository of information investment promotion agency in the Philippines, CIPC
and services that caters to the needs of prospective has serviced over 1,000 prospective locators since 1994
investors, and as a link between various government and has since transformed Cebu’s economy into a thriving
agencies at the national and local levels, the private sector mix of industries and commercial ventures. It also helped
develop a burgeoning furniture-making
industry, making Cebu the furniture capital
of the Philippines.
Learning lessons from CIPC, the TFEP
then involved not just groups from Iloilo
City like the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) and
the Iloilo Hotels, Restaurants and Resorts
Association (IHRRA), but also stakeholders
outside of the city. This move brought in the
provincial government of Iloilo and the then
Metro Iloilo Development Council (MIDC),
which was later expanded to become
the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic
Development Council (MIGEDC). The
Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), which
was assisting the MIDC then, was also
asked to bring more inputs to the planning
table. CUI’s work was undertaken with the
financial support of the Government of
Canada provided through the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA).
and existing and potential investors.
The task force and representatives of the provincial
The IIPC was born following the advent of information government of Iloilo, MIDC, and CUI began planning what
communication technology, especially with rise of call would be the proper mandate and organizational set up
centres, where agents handle telephone calls on behalf of the IIPC. What followed was a series of workshops
of a client. Clients include mail-order catalogue houses, and seminars to prepare stakeholders to come up with
telemarketing companies, computer product help the project’s action plan. Together, these organizations
desks, banks, financial service and insurance groups, crafted an agreement that was endorsed by the respective
transportation and freight handling firms, hotels, and IT legislative councils of the local governments involved.
companies. The Iloilo City Council, for its part, had already passed
a resolution authorizing Mayor Jerry Treñas to sign the
In June 2004, investors scouted for sites in Iloilo City for memorandum of agreement.
call centres, made courtesy calls with the Office of the
Mayor, and sought assistance from the Department of Nevertheless, with the private sector already amenable
Trade and Industry (DTI) on how to open a business in

32 Building a Resilient Region

Metro Iloilo Guimaras: Metro-wide Investment Promotion

and highly supportive of the idea, the Iloilo Investment opening of the call centre, ePLDT Ventus has continued
Promotion Center (IIPC) was inaugurated on May 12, coordinating with IIPC on other concerns, including their
2005, marking the “starting line of the race towards local expansion program.
economic development,” as the IIPC slogan declares.
But while the Center was officially launched in May 2005,
Kicking Off IIPC’s ad hoc structure had earlier assisted companies
Housed at the DTI regional office in Iloilo City and complete interested in doing business in Iloilo City. During the period
with the necessary office facilities, the Center invited of June 2004 to June 2005, IIPC assisted at least 20
the executive director of the CIPC to share the Cebu potential investors, conducted roundtable discussions with
experience, discussing the challenges Cebu faced, and the academe on investments, and hosted job fairs for call
how these challenges were met. The lessons learned were centres in Iloilo City. By 2007, there were already six call
vital in launching the Center’s operation. centres in Iloilo City with over 1,000 seats and employing at
least 1,500 personnel for their 24-hour operations. Various
Likewise, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) factors had forced some to transfer to other cities, but new
also provided input on investment incentives and explained ones have subsequently opened.
the process by which an area could become accredited
with PEZA. PEZA is an investment promotion agency In 2008, IIPC assisted at least 12 companies hoping to set
that grants fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to developers up shop in Iloilo City, of which six were in the call centre
of economic zones, export producers and information business, three in real estate, and another three in facilities
technology service exporters. It was then that the task force development. IIPC had also facilitated the conduct of a
started to identify other institutions that could be involved in focus group discussion (FGD) among students by one call
the project. centre firm.

With a total budget of P930,000 (US$20,000) provided Competitive Advantages

by the then MIDC, IIPC was launched with the following Having a highly-educated labour force is one of Iloilo City’s
objectives: competitive advantages. Most individuals in the labour
force are graduates of some of the country’s leading
•  To establish a focal source of information and universities, like the University of the Philippines in the
services related to investment in order to have just one Visayas, Central Philippine University, St. Paul University,
common official set of data; University of San Agustin and the West Visayas State
University. Skilled workers are products of technical and
•  To strengthen the network between and among vocational schools, and the government-run Technical
government agencies both national and local, private Education for Skills Development Authority (TESDA), as
sector and other offices concerned with investment; and well as skills upgrading programs occasionally sponsored
•  To establish a reliable and user-friendly data banking by private organizations. It is also home to the Western
system to be readily available to existing and potential Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVSCT), one
investors. of the leading technical schools in the country.

It also has the following functions:

•  Set-up and maintain a database program

on investment;
•  Facilitate and provide investment
promotion services;
•  Formulate and undertake investment
marketing programs;
•  Provide a venue for policy intervention
in creating a more conducive business
environment; and
•  Establish linkages with appropriate
organizations and agencies.

Early Successes
IIPC’s first spin-off institution was the ePLDT
Ventus, a wholly owned subsidiary of ePLDT
Inc, which opened a 1,600-square metre, 300-
seat call centre in Molo district in December
2004. ePLDT Inc. was so impressed with
the help of the IIPC that even after the initial

Building a Resilient Region 33

Metro Iloilo Guimaras: Metro-wide Investment Promotion

Iloilo City has available managerial

staff, vocational-technical schools
producing skilled workers, and regional
training centres. It also has available
land that is suitable for factory and
office buildings at competitive prices,
public utilities at reasonable rates,
and financial institutions, adequate
transport infrastructures, and shopping
and recreational facilities, among
others. Its local governments are
also receptive to investors. The Iloilo
Fishing Port Complex has modern cold
storage facilities.

The large number of financial

institutions in the city and province
make banking convenient for
businesses, not to mention the
presence of competent legal,
accounting and auditing professional
service firms. It also has adequate
shopping and recreational facilities,
and is proximate to the sources of
indigenous raw materials. Likewise,
the peace and order situation is ideally
resources in a One-Stop Express Business Center,
reducing red tape, and improving effectiveness and
efficiency in government services.
Wearing Different Hats
During its initial year, a Technical Secretariat headed by The Nerbac program has three components – licensing,
the DTI provincial director who serves as its executive knowledge management and investment promotion.
director ran IIPC. It was housed at the DTI office, with two Nerbac is managed by a governing board, the composition
personnel detailed to run its daily operations. An Executive of which as far as Iloilo is concerned is almost the same
Committee was created from among the members of the as the board of trustees of ILED and the board of advisors
Board of Advisors, which was composed of representatives of IIPC. Because IIPC was already a functioning body, it
of local governments, national government agencies and was decided that it should serve as Nerbac’s investment
private sector organizations. promotion arm in Iloilo. Nerbac Iloilo’s governing board
includes the city mayor, the provincial governor, the DTI
With a functioning structure and a clearly defined mandate, provincial director, the chairpersons of ILED and the
it was easy for IIPC to wear different hats while speaking Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and
the same message. This was proven following the Industry, among others.
creation of the multi-sectoral Iloilo Economic Development
Foundation (ILED), with IIPC serving as its marketing arm.
This happened because most of the people coming from Lasting Structure
The rapid change in programs and responses to economic
the public and private sectors that composed IIPC’s Board
challenges showed one thing – IIPC has become a lasting
of Advisors also became ILED’s trustees, which includes
structure for investment promotion. While it can be likened
the city mayor, the provincial governor, the provincial
to a child with various foster parents, moving from one
director of the Department of Trade and Industry, and the
home to another, it has still performed its tasks sustainably.
chairpersons of the Iloilo Business Club, the Iloilo Visitors
It has become not just a centre working for the promotion of
Convention Bureau, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation and
Metro Iloilo as an investment destination but also a venue
the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce
where plans and programs are shared and harmonized for
and Industry, among others.
local economic development.
Late in 2008, the DTI began to implement Republic Act
A functional body with a working plan for action, a
No. 7470, the national law that mandated the creation of
budget contributed by local governments and equipment
National Economic Research and Business Assistance
provided by private organizations, IIPC has thus become a
Centers (Nerbac) in the various regions and provinces
sustainable product of partnership among stakeholders for
of the country. Nerbac is a pioneering project providing
local economic development in Iloilo.
a single entry point for investors on comprehensive and
highly integrated business support by pooling government

34 Building a Resilient Region

A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty
When you arrive at the seaside village of Dolores in commercial fishing vessels and rampant illegal fishing
Nueva Valencia town in Guimaras, you quickly forget the practices. Blast fishing was also rampant, destroying coral
long and bumpy ride from the wharf in the capital town of reefs that serve as spawning grounds of fish. Traditional
Jordan. The main destination in this village is the small fishing methods simply could not compete with such
hamlet of Guisi where about 80 families reside. While modern techniques. The diminishing forests and the legal
climbing to a ridge overlooking the western coast of the restrictions imposed on cutting tress also put a stop to
island, all your distractions melt away to the sound of charcoal production.
waves crashing against the island below.
Fishing used to give a family 300 pesos a week (US$6.40)
Guisi was not spared from the oil spill that hit Guimaras while charcoal production fetched 200 pesos (US$4.25).
in August 2006, although the impact of the disaster to the Both amounts diminished, prompting residents to seek
area was minimal, thanks to a north-east blowing wind and work elsewhere or to develop other means of livelihood.
a quick and effective response from residents, who built One family, for example, opened a bakery, but the
improvised purchasing power of their poor neighbours wasn’t enough
spill to sustain the business.
booms that
prevented Compensating the poverty that grips families in Guisi is the
wayward wealth of nature found in its environs – a captivating white-
slicks from sand beach, clean and pristine waters, a scenic landscape
coming and a rich cultural and historical heritage.
As news Guisi has been described as a perfect outdoor destination.
of the oil Its beach is ideal for swimming and canoeing; its forested
spill jolted hills invite everyone for an exciting mountain-trek; its
Guimaras, cave tempts the adventurous to explore its depths; and
the people its waterfall showers with fun. One can also experience
of Guisi the people’s indigenous culture that has remained intact,
immediately tracing back to the 1860s when the first settlers of Guisi
knew what arrived from neighbouring Iloilo.
to protect
first – the Making the place more fascinating is a Spanish lighthouse
white-sand known in naval manuals as Faro de Punta Luzaran. One
beach of the 70 lighthouses built across the Philippines from the
that is the 1860s to the 1890s as part of the colonial government’s
pride of the project to light the maritime coasts of the archipelago, it
community guides ships cruising over Panay Gulf.
and the
source of its Guisi was selected to host the lighthouse because it is
reputation. visible from the islands of Panay and Negros and from the
Without open sea on the western side of the country. The area also
delay, served as a stopover point for sugar and log-loaded ships
villagers plying the Iloilo-Caguayan route during the 18th and 19th
launched their outriggers and were on the lookout for centuries.
black stains of oil threatening to tarnish the hamlet’s
jewel, quickly removing slicks and fending off the worst The Spanish lighthouse, which is no longer functioning
environmental disaster to hit the Philippines. but is still standing, had a beam that could reach 22.5
kilometres. Its rotating prism, which reflected and beamed
Responding collectively during times of crisis is not new to the kerosene-fuelled light, was powered by gravitational
the residents of this fishing village. A few years back, they force. In the 1990s, the Philippine Coast Guard constructed
also rose as one against what they have been trying to a new lighthouse to replace the dilapidated one, this time,
individually overcome for decades – poverty. powered by solar energy. They now stand side by side like
twins separated at birth, one a guiding light to the future,
Life in Guisi was difficult then. Fishing and charcoal the other shedding light on the stories of the past.
production, the main sources of livelihood for residents,
were not particularly promising. The fishing catch had Guisi Discovery Quest
been declining due to a combination of intruding large Two years after the oil spill hit Guimaras, an innovative

Building a Resilient Region 35

Guimaras: A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty

project known as Guisi Discovery Quest was launched that had been identified as the cornerstone of the economic
features affordable tour packages for visitors, including development of Guimaras.
rappelling, snorkelling and a mangrove tour, among other
activities. These activities are offered in two packages, This project traces its inception back to 1996 when the
a half day or a whole day, and each offers a different provincial government of Guimaras, with the assistance of
experience for the tourist, ranging from tranquil relaxation the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), implemented a series
to extreme adventure. of activities to equip stakeholders with the capacity to
formulate economic development initiatives and implement
The half day tour is mainly made up of mountain biking, projects geared towards poverty reduction. An economic
boating, caving and snorkelling activities, with mangrove development strategy for the island was prepared, which
tours and rappelling activities included in the full day tour. identified three priority sectors – agriculture, fisheries and
The activities end after an hour or two of snorkelling as tourism. CUI’s work in Guimaras was undertaken with the
visitors pedal back to the lighthouse to freshen up and rest. financial support of the Government of Canada provided
From the lighthouse, visitors can also enjoy the previously through the Canadian International Development Agency
undiscovered wonders of Guisi beaches, or the lush (CIDA).
wilderness trails leading to the majestic Panluron Falls.
To test the acquired capacity of stakeholders in
The project, designed by the Department of Tourism with implementing projects, demonstration projects were
funding from the United Nations Development Programme implemented. In the area of tourism development, the
(UNDP), is not a brand new project, but one built on the provincial government introduced the Guimaras Heritage
gains of the much earlier Guisi Community-based Heritage Tourism Project that called for the establishment of
Tourism Program, a component of the Guimaras Heritage an environmentally sensitive and cooperative form of
Tourism Project initiated five years before the oil spill. community economic development endeavour. Guisi was
selected as the site for such a
pilot project.

Specifically, the Guimaras

Heritage Tourism Project aimed

•  Enhance the abilities and

increase the awareness of
stakeholders in developing
and managing local economic
•  Develop and implement a
barangay and excursion tourism
•  Promote public/community
involvement and encourage
transparency and accountability;
•  Develop/formulate and
implement tourism policies and
related legislation; and
•  Improve service delivery
and reduce poverty of local

Project Components
Public Education and
Organization. Following the
implementation of the Guimaras Heritage Tourism Project,
the provincial government conducted a series of tourism
Deemed the people’s ticket out of poverty, the Guimaras awareness seminars to educate communities as well as
Heritage Tourism Project was launched in November 2001 other stakeholders on the economic benefits that could
and was designed to develop and implement a community- be derived from tourism in order to gain their support
based economic enterprise employing multi-stakeholder for and commitment to tourism-related projects, and to
and participatory approaches. It intended to promote turn them into effective tourism leaders. These seminars
the natural, agricultural, religious, historical and cultural also provided stakeholders with a clearer picture of the
heritage of the place to local and foreign tourists. Tourism importance of the tourism industry and familiarized them

36 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty

with the island’s attractions, products, services and

activities and special events. A municipal project task force Enhancement of Support Services. A fund of P350,000
for the heritage tourism project was created in October (US$7,400) from the provincial government of Guimaras
2002 by the municipal government of Nueva Valencia to led to the construction of a one-room heritage cottage
formulate plans and programs as well as to advocate for to accommodate tourists in the area. It is equipped
the passage of tourism and related legislation. with a bathroom, a kitchen, and lighting facilities. It was
subsequently turned over to the BDTC for management.
Policy Formulation. Legislation and policies were The BDTC also raised cash and material donations from
introduced to support the operation of the heritage private organizations and individuals amounting to P32,135
tourism project. These included the creation of the (US$680) for the improvement of the cottage, which include
Barangay Dolores Tourism the construction of a mess
Council and the Barangay hall and two toilet facilities,
Ecological Solid Waste tables and the landscaping
Management Committee, a of the cottage grounds. It
ban on the gathering of corals also purchased mats, water
in the shoreline of Dolores, a containers, lamps and other
proclamation of the Dolores basic items
mangrove area as the site
of a community-based forest Generating Partners’ Support.
management project, the The development of the Guisi
strengthening of the Municipal Community-Based Heritage
Tourism Council, and the Tourism Project was a result
adoption of the Area Specific of the contributions of various
Tourism Master Plan of partners. Departments under
Guimaras, and several others. the provincial government of
Guimaras lent their expertise
Capacity Building. In November to answer the various needs
2003, a group of municipal of the project. The Provincial
and provincial government Tourism Office provided
personnel participated in a direction, framework and initial
study tour to Samal Island funding and staff to develop
in Davao del Norte where a and implement the project. The
community-based tourism Provincial Engineers Office was
program had been making responsible for the construction
several gains. This exposed of the heritage cottage and the
them to approaches on how installation of the water system.
to manage the project and The municipal government of
make it sustainable, and made Nueva Valencia and its offices
them realize the benefits that collaborated with their provincial
the community could derive counterparts. National
from a similar endeavour. government agencies like the
Their learnings from the study Department of Tourism, the
tour, which was organized Philippine National Police and
by CUI, were echoed in the the Bureau of Fisheries and
Community-Based Heritage Aquatic Resources extended
Tourism Project Management interventions on matters
Workshop conducted the related to their mandates.
following month. The workshop The Technical Education and
sought to equip villagers – the Skills Development Authority
Barangay Dolores Tourism (TESDA) gave skills training
Council (BDTC), barangay The old lighthouse at Guisi still has stories to tell. to residents in inn-keeping and
officials, students, teachers, fisherfolk and other members food handling, among others.
of the community – with basic knowledge in inn-keeping,
organization, management of tourism facilities and events, A Novel Approach
guest assistance and handling, as well as marketing. This The Guimaras Heritage Tourism Project is an innovative
enhanced their awareness of their roles, responsibilities way of attacking the problem of poverty. Here, one can find
and relationships in the implementation and management a community that developed – in a participatory manner –
of the project. The BDTC was named the project its own local economic enterprise to directly benefit from it.
management team of the community-based heritage It shaped a community that is aware of its assets, capable
tourism project. of managing them, and committed to sustaining the

Building a Resilient Region 37

Guimaras: A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty

initiative that provided them with livelihood opportunities request to the National Commission for Culture and the
when their traditional sources of income could no longer Arts (NCCA) for the restoration of the Guisi lighthouse and
provide enough support. the preservation of their culture.

The BDTC, which was named the project management Guisi, according to oral accounts, was peopled starting in
team, has since been registered with the Securities and the 1860s when Eping Geonanga, a fisher from Guimbal
Exchange Commission (SEC). It originally offered a tour town in Iloilo province, was attracted to the richness and
package for a group of five at a rate of P1,175 (US$25) unspoiled natural resources of the place. He brought his
per person, which includes accommodation at the family to the area and since then, other fishing families
heritage cottage and meals for two days, and services like from the nearby islands of Panay and Negros and from
boating and carroza (carriage) rides, as well as a cultural as far as Romblon and Masbate started to settle in Guisi,

presentation. Guides are also available for those who want which was then called Baybay. Isolated as they were and
to go mountain trekking and spelunking1. with little outside influence, the people have preserved
many of their culture and traditions.
BDTC records showed that from October 2004 to August
2005, the project generated an income of P86,887 To attract tourists to the area, the project is being promoted
(US$1,845) from group tours that benefited 42 families through the media, both local and national. Pilmap, a travel
who were tapped to supply catering and other services magazine, had a story on the project in its March 2004
to guests. School children who perform during cultural issue. Two television programs from the giant networks
presentations also earn small fees charged to tourists. ABS-CBN (Magandang Umaga Bayan) and GMA-7 (Lovely
Day) also ran separate features on the community initiative.
Fisherfolk belonging to the Katilingban sang mga
Magagmay nga Mangingisda sa Dolores (Dolores CUI, the provincial government of Guimaras and the
Small Fisherfolks Association of Kamamado) augment municipal government of Nueva Valencia jointly published
their income by offering boating services and hands-on a full-colour tourism brochure on Guisi to inform the public
experiences for guests in traditional fishing methods using what it is all about. An activity sponsored by the project
nets as well as hook and line. Kamamado members have brought reporters and editors from national and regional
also become committed protectors of the environment as media to the area who in turn wrote stories that brought the
they serve as watchdogs of the coastal waters and marine project to the attention of their respective audiences.
resources of Dolores, having signed an agreement with the
provincial government for such purpose. Members of the However, after the oil spill, visitor arrivals in Guisi declined
barangay tanod (community police), for their part, serve as by 42.74 percent in 2006. Income generated also went
guides in mountain trekking and cave exploration, and earn down by 54.71 percent from P51,827 (US$1,100) in
extra funds from such duties. 2005 to P23,475 (US$500) in 2006. But by 2007, Guisi
experienced a remarkable increase of 895.07 percent in
The partnership forged among local governments, national visitor arrivals, bringing the income generated to P95,965
government agencies, non-governmental organizations and (US$2,000), or an increase of 308.80 percent.
community members brought maximum results not only
in terms of economics but also in terms of preserving the Its Value
historical and cultural heritage of the place. Settlers have The beauty of having a community managing its own
started to conduct research and compile historical accounts economic resources is that it must ensure that the shared
from older members of the community and made an initial assets will continue to provide for the community’s needs,
Exploring caves. creating a safeguard against the self-destructive over-

38 Building a Resilient Region

Guimaras: A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty

exploitation that can plague tourist

areas. Furthermore, community
members also want to get the
most out of the investments that
they and their partners provide
for the project. Volunteerism also
shines best in such an endeavour.
Community members would also
advocate for the establishment of
structures and the formulation of
policies that encourage the project’s
economic and environmental

From 1996 to 2005, the Guimaras

Heritage Tourism Project had an
allocated budget of P900,000
(US$19,000), the bulk of which
went to training activities and was
mostly assumed by the provincial
government, which invested 95
percent of the budget. While the
municipal government of Nueva
Valencia and the barangay council
of Dolores provided a small share
of P20,000 each, they also provided
volunteer workers, which helped a
delicacies and crafts that serve as souvenir items for
great deal in implementing the project.
tourists when they visit Guisi.
Perhaps most valuable was the way in which the project
The project also promotes gender equality and youth
surpassed expectations. During the tourism awareness
participation, having solicited the active participation of
and appreciation campaign, the project intended to reach
women and young people in environmental and cultural
only half of the population of Barangay Dolores, or 942
activities. The BDTC is chaired by a woman, who is also
people, but it turned out that it reached the entire village
the principal of the Dolores Elementary School. Likewise,
and 518 others from neighbouring villages, municipal
women are involved in project management and operation.
government personnel and people’s organizations. In terms
Partner organizations like the NVPA are mostly comprised
of community mobilization and involvement, 292 people
of women.
were involved and actively participated in environmental
management activities, even though only 250 were
targeted. The project also aimed to train 50 beneficiaries on Its Impacts
project management and operation as part of its capacity The implementation of the Guimaras Heritage Tourism
building component, but reached 78 instead. In tourism Project has not only produced results but also made an
project assessment, policy ordinance formulation, and impressive imprint on the community in a number of ways:
market planning, 418 were reached compared to an initial
target of 350. Institutional Empowerment. The Municipal Task Force
for the Implementing Heritage Tourism Programs and
The heritage cottage is fully operational and is equipped the Barangay Dolores Tourism Council were created by
with several facilities. Constructed with funds from the virtue of an executive order and resolution, respectively.
provincial government, community members volunteered The creation of both groups was necessary for the
for carpentry jobs while other residents donated cash and implementation of the Guisi Community-Based Heritage
construction materials like hollow blocks, cement, lumber, Tourism Project. The BDTC has been registered with
and sand and gravel to ensure that construction did not the Securities and Exchange Commission, enabling it
encounter delays and other problems. to legally operate as an organization, as has the Nueva
The project also encouraged transparency with its use of a Valencia Producers Association. The provincial government
multi-stakeholder approach in planning and management. of Guimaras forged an agreement with the Iloilo City
Organizational procedures and systems have been government to form the Guimaras-Iloilo City Alliance
established not only for the Barangay Dolores Tourism (GICA) to institutionalize cooperation between the two
Council as the project management team but also for local governments to promote tourism and economic
support groups like the Kamamado and the Nueva Valencia development. GICA eventually evolved into the Metro Iloilo-
Producers Association (NVPA), the group that produces Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC).

Building a Resilient Region 39

Guimaras: A Community Comes Together to Fight Poverty

to launching a new government program. Raising the

Cultural Preservation. The project helped people awareness of people on the economic benefits of tourism
appreciate their culture and history, realizing that these can may be easy, but Guimaras fashioned its campaign by
become tools for poverty reduction and thus encouraged building tourism front-liners who must always remember
them to preserve their cultural traditions and historical the 3As – Attract, Assurance, and Account. These
landmarks. Children and adults memorized cultural songs mean attracting tourists by improving tourism products,
and perfected dance steps so these could be showcased to destinations and events, assuring them of safety and
guests. They also documented the community history from security, and making everyone accountable to every visitor
oral accounts and other secondary sources. Traditional by making their stay on the island a worthwhile experience.
fishing methods take centre stage during experiential
activities. The quaint barrio life is being conserved as it has Study tours to areas where a community-based heritage
formed part of Guisi’s tourism product. tourism project is making waves, including Guisi, can be
easily organized. While situations can be unique from
Environmental Protection. The people of Guisi have also one area to another, Guisi was inspired by Samal Island
made environmental protection their foremost concern. Its off Davao City where a community-based eco-tourism
program had been established. The experiences of both
“The implementation of the Guimaras Heritage Guisi and Samal can provide other local governments
Tourism Project has not only produced results and communities with knowledge on how to develop and
but also made an impression on the community.” manage a local tourism enterprise. Similar management
workshops can be organized and national government
agencies can be tapped to serve as partners in similar
pristine environment and clean coastal waters are part of undertakings.
its total tourism product and the residents have been very
active in activities geared towards environmental protection The Local Government Code of 1991 provided local
like coastal clean up, tree planting and re-greening, government units with the power to legislate and create
beautification and solid waste management. The Barangay offices, local development councils and special bodies that
Ecological Solid Waste Management Committee of Dolores can assist them in formulating policies geared towards
has since been strengthened to arrest any garbage poverty reduction, cultural preservation and environmental
problems. Environmental policies have been introduced, protection. Their compositions can be similarly fashioned.
like the ban on gathering coral along the shoreline of The tourism program of the province of Guimaras, which
Dolores and the proclamation of the Dolores mangrove features strong public-private partnership, was established
area as the site of a community-based forest management within legal frameworks, making it replicable. Community
project. organizations can be set up and registered with the proper
government agencies to make them functional beyond the
Economic Empowerment. As described in earlier parts domain of politics so that even though governors or mayors
of this chapter, the Barangay Dolores Tourism Council come and go, these organizations will continue to operate.
(BDTC) generated an income from group tours which
benefited families who were tapped to supply catering Challenges and the Future
and other services to guests. School children who perform One challenge in the implementation of the Guimaras
earned small fees ; fishers augmented their income by Heritage Tourism Project is “process fatigue” felt by
offering boating services and hands-on experiences for some stakeholders considering the time that participatory
guests; and members of the barangay tanod (community planning requires to produce a multi-stakeholder plan of
police) served as guides in mountain trekking and cave action. To note, the project’s conceptualization started in
exploration, and earn extra funds from such duties. 1996 but was only turned over to the community in January
2004. “Process fatigue” can weaken the interests of others
Transferability and Sustainability and drag out the process all the more. Another is the wait-
The implementation of the Guimaras Heritage Tourism and-see attitude of some community members that can
Project has been documented. Programs like the tourism spread to others if their concerns are not addressed.
awareness campaign, study tours and management
workshops can be easily replicated in other areas with However, the transparency in program implementation,
natural, cultural and historical heritage features. Policies the strong partnership that propelled it, and the policies
enshrined in executive orders, resolutions and ordinances and structures that made it survive the odds bring a lot
can inspire similar strategies. The creation of councils and of promise to the community, thus exacting commitment
legal documents governing cooperation and the registration and dedication from them to work for its success. This
of organizations are applicable elsewhere in the Philippines commitment and dedication is the same that the people
and perhaps elsewhere. displayed when they responded to challenge of the oil spill.
By and large, it has been a program “by the people, for the
Awareness campaigns are done almost everywhere on people and of the people” of Guisi.
every issue – from combating the spread of diseases

40 Building a Resilient Region

Boracay’s War on Waste
Stay beautiful! That is the obligation
of Boracay Island off the coast of the
municipality of Malay in Aklan province,
Philippines, to those who benefit from
the fortune that it brings. In the past 12
years, 4.322 million local and foreign
tourists have visited Boracay spending
P79.445 billion (US$1.67 million) on
the small island. Billed as “The Crown
Jewel of Philippine Tourism,” the
1,038-hectare island is a major income
generator not only for Aklan but also for
the country as a whole, bringing in an
average of P6.6 billion (US$126 million)
a year.

But as tourists descend on the island

by the thousand, they leave behind
mounting garbage problems that have
made Boracay’s obligation to stay
beautiful difficult to achieve. In 2001,
the island produced an average of
eight tons of garbage a day during
the peak tourist season, which runs island, to recommend measures to stem the worsening
from December to May, and five tons a day during the off garbage problem through the 1990 Boracay Island Master
season. By end of 2004, the figure had risen to 10 tons Development Plan (BIMDP).
and seven tons a day during these respective seasons. In
2008, the figure hit a remarkable high of 19.1 tons day. The next year, however, Republic Act 7610 or the
Local Government Code was passed, passing the
Of the total volume of garbage generated each day in responsibility of managing tourism areas and facilities
the island, 12.1 tons comes from hotels, restaurants and to municipal and city governments. In Boracay’s case,
shops, 6.1 tons come from households and the rest comes this meant the municipality of Malay, Aklan. This Act also
from institutions and public spaces such as the streets and transferred the task of enforcing environmental laws on
the beach. During the high season, at least 30 percent of cleanliness, sanitation, solid waste management and
Boracay garbage is recyclable. The 70 percent that is not other environmental matters to local governments. The
recyclable is shipped to a dump on the mainland of Aklan, guidelines that the DOT completed would have to be
where there is a 6.1 hectare landfill along the boundaries of adopted by local ordinances to be enforceable.
Malay and Buruanga towns.
Despite this Act, the DOT continued to play an active
As the volume of garbage generated each day on the role in Boracay, especially in ensuring that the island’s
island steadily increases year after year, effective solid environmental integrity was preserved. In 1996, the DOT
waste management has also become an escalating partnered with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) to
challenge for its stakeholders, particularly for the local promote sustainable development practices in Boracay
government and for business owners. And that challenge through community-based initiatives that would help to
has become more demanding because of the fact that ensure the economic well-being of the people while at
Boracay has become the country’s most popular tourism the same time maintaining the island’s attractiveness.
destination, known in the international tourism circle for its CUI’s work in Boracay was undertaken with the financial
four-kilometre sugar white beach. support of the Government of Canada provided through the
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Tourists and Garbage
The problem of solid waste in Boracay began when the first What followed was a series of initiatives intended to
tourist came to the island, throwing away the first empty implement mechanisms and structures that would carry
junk food wrapper on the beach or a shampoo sachet out out sustainable plans and programs. CUI’s intervention
a resort window. As tourists grew in numbers, the piles of in Boracay followed similar steps to those of a previous
garbage rose. This prompted the Department of Tourism initiative in Guimaras province. These steps included the
(DOT), which then had supervision and control over the organization of a project steering committee, assessment

Building a Resilient Region 41

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

waste. It also mandated the creation of

ecological solid waste management boards in
every local government, the task of which is
to prepare, submit and implement a plan for
the safe and sanitary management of solid
waste generated in their respective areas of
geographic and political jurisdiction.

Creating Partnerships
In Boracay, solid waste management falls
on the shoulders of the Municipal Ecological
Solid Waste Management Board (MESWMB)
of Malay, Aklan, which is headed by the
Municipal Mayor. Boracay stakeholders are
active members of the board, having previous
involvement with the Boracay Solid Waste
Action Team (BSWAT), a multi-stakeholder
task force organized in November 1997 to
serve as champion in the campaign against

BSWAT was created following an action

planning process that was called for after
reports erupted in 1998 warning that the
island’s waters were already contaminated
with coliform bacteria. BSWAT formalized
the good relationships and encouraged
cooperation among the local government,
national government agencies, non-
governmental organizations and the
community. The group acted as an advisory
body and as the implementing arm of the local
government on issues concerning solid waste.

BSWAT’s creation was one of the offshoots

of the first Boracay Stakeholders Workshop,
which produced inputs to a SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis,
and an agreement on the need for a
consortium to manage the island and on this
and planning for solid waste management, municipal
body’s preliminary role. The workshop also resulted in the
strengthening and management improvement, organization
creation of a Project Steering Committee (PSC) composed
and strengthening of the municipal and the barangay solid
of key officials in the local government of Malay, the
waste management boards, capacity development and
Department of the Interior and Local Government and the
implementation of demonstration projects.
private sector, led by the Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI).
The PSC was tasked to oversee plans and programs for
In 2000, Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid
sustainable development in Boracay, particularly on solid
Waste Management Act of 2000 was passed, providing
waste management.
a legal framework for a systematic, comprehensive and
ecological solid waste management program in the
The PSC then met to examine the issues, challenges, and
Philippines. The Act aimed to ensure the protection of
prospects for solid waste management on the island. A
public health and the environment and underscored,
Solid Waste Management Workshop was the starting point
among other things, the need to create the necessary
for full implementation of municipal ordinances on zero
institutional mechanisms and incentives to do so, and
waste management. Since then, an action plan and a zero
to impose penalties for acts in violation of any of its
waste management implementation strategy to address
the solid waste problem using participatory and strategic
approaches have been developed.
The law required the establishment of materials recovery
facilities (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays
The “Zero Waste Management Program” sought to change
to serve as temporary storage for recyclable or reusable
attitudes among waste producers and to improve solid

42 Building a Resilient Region

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

waste practices on the island. It featured seminars on of 20 households. Selda leaders, who received training
solid waste management, workshops on composting, and on solid waste management, were likewise tasked with
meetings of garbage collectors and beach cleaners to raise undertaking information and education campaigns for their
awareness about garbage disposal problems. cell members. The system has encouraged village folk to
help address garbage problems.
This program was conceived after it became clear that
municipal ordinances involving solid waste were poorly Key officials also attended workshops on Organizational
implemented. For example, most, if not all, establishments Improvement and on Project Implementation, Monitoring
and residents did not segregate solid waste at source. and Evaluation. Two municipal sanitary inspections were
Recycling and other solid waste management techniques sent to attend a Solid Waste Management Characterization
were also not strictly implemented. Further, there were no Workshop to increase their knowledge on how to conduct
intense information campaigns to encourage and inspire solid waste characterization. Seventeen staff also attended
residents and business owners to adopt systematic solid the Project Monitoring and Impact Evaluation Workshop,
waste management. which equipped them with knowledge and skills to conduct
impact monitoring of various local government initiatives.

Eight municipal staff attended two study

tours to Cebu City, Bohol and Mindanao
that exposed them to the experiences of
other local governments in environmental
management. Another study tour to
Singapore exposed the Municipal Planning
and Development Coordinator to its
experiences in urban planning, economic
promotion, tourism development, ports
management, transportation management
and environmental management.

Organizational improvements were also

introduced. These included regular weekly
staff meetings, which served as a venue
for progress reporting and planning for the
weekly activities of the local government
unit, and the implementation of a regular
communication campaign on municipal
government activities using a radio station in

Demonstration Project
To show how partnership works, the Boracay
Creative recycling is an important component of Boracay Solid Waste Management. Island Solid Waste Management Project
began its implementation in 2004 as a
demonstration project that aimed to reduce waste disposal
From BSWAT to SWM Board by 25 percent. It had three objectives:
With the new national law on solid waste management,
BSWAT had to give way to the Municipal Ecological •  The implementation of an Information and Education
Solid Waste Management Board (MESWMB), through Campaign (IEC) to increase the level of awareness and
which CUI’s assistance continued, working within its participation of stakeholders in solid waste management.
framework by organizing and strengthening it and its •  The improvement of the local government’s collection
barangay counterparts. A review and assessment of the and disposal system performance by providing functional
town’s solid waste system was done, eventually resulting facilities, training, and exposure to other areas with best
in the completion of a 10-year Ecological Solid Waste practices on solid waste management and by providing
Management Plan, which the municipal government started sufficient supplies and other logistics.
to implement in 2002. •  The strengthening of solid waste management
mechanisms in collaboration with the private sector
This also led to the revival of the selda system and to and national government agencies by reorganizing and
training a team on conducting information and education strengthening the capabilities of the MESWMB and its
campaigns. The selda, or cell, system is a volunteer barangay counterparts.
concept where one selda leader is in charge of monitoring
waste segregation activities and solid waste disposal The government-community collaboration that had been

Building a Resilient Region 43

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

built over the years in Boracay was reflected in the the Environment Monitoring and Evaluation System
partnership approach to the implementation of this project, (EMES). The EMES incorporates a set of indicators
which brought together municipal and barangay officials, that helps stakeholders and key players anticipate and
national government agencies like the departments of prevent problems. The Boracay EMES works to ensure the
health, environment, tourism and local government, and soundness of future decisions and activities of Boracay’s
non-government organizations like CUI, BFI, Boracay stakeholders and end-users, based on the principle of
Federated Chamber of Commerce, Boracay Land ecological and socio-cultural harmony.
Transport Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Kiwanis Club of
Boracay, and the Rotary Club of Boracay. The chair of the Municipal Special Task Force, created
in 1998 to assist in the implementation of laws and
The implementation of the demonstration project received ordinances pertaining to environmental projects and
internal and external support to ensure that it attained tourism, participated in a study tour to Canada to learn
its objectives. The municipal government earmarked about responsible tourism development, environmental
money to fund activities like training, orientations and management, local governance, and economic
forums, publications, and monitoring. The Department of development.
Environment and Natural Resources and the DOT acquired
equipment while the barangays provided human
resources for the construction of materials recovery
facilities. CUI facilitated orientation programs for
members of the solid waste management boards.

Building from Previous Gains

The project was also built on the gains of previous
initiatives on IEC, capacity building, and partnership

During BSWAT days, one of its many mandates

was to take charge of the information and education
campaign (IEC). It teamed up with the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
in coming up with IEC materials on solid waste
management, which were prominently posted in
every room of resorts in Boracay. It also launched
waste segregation campaigns and co-sponsored a
radio program dubbed “Bantay Boracay (Boracay

On capacity building, key local government officials

benefited from various training sessions, attended
workshops, and went on study tours to build their
capacity in discharging their functions. Coaching sessions
were also beneficial to them, while case study materials Members of the BSWAT also went on a study tour to
on solid waste management were compiled to infuse new Manila, Bulacan, and Olongapo in 1999 to observe various
knowledge into efforts to address the garbage problem. solid waste management initiatives, which provided them
The private sector also received training and information with knowledge on waste reduction, reusing, recycling and
on solid waste management. These contributed to the composting. They intended to duplicate or improve upon
effective execution of programs and projects on solid waste the efforts of other local government units in addressing
management. their own garbage problems.

The municipality also received funding from the Canadian Inspiring Results
International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Interventions on the solid waste management process in
Local Government Support Program (LGSP) to build the Boracay yielded inspiring results. The greatest of these
municipality’s capacity with respect to recycling and zero results was the five-year unified ecological solid waste
waste management. Canadian consultants facilitated management plan for the island which was adopted by the
training workshops and public awareness activities on three barangays (village-level of government) that comprise
solid waste management issues and recycling for school it – Balabag, Manocmanoc and Yapak. Indicative of the
children, resort owners, church leaders and workers. empowerment of the three barangays, the unified plan was
deemed an urgent measure for the island because of its
A workshop was also conducted to equip stakeholders with unique qualities as compared to the rest of the municipality,
the necessary tools, methods and techniques to implement namely its rapid urban growth brought about by mass

44 Building a Resilient Region

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

tourism. level. Normally, only the chair of the Liga ng mga Barangay
– the municipal federation of barangay captains – sits on
This unified plan employs the so-called 4Es of Ecological the MESWMB.
Waste Management strategy – Education, Engineering,
Enforcement and Entrepreneurship. Developed using Compliance with Ordinances
a multi-stakeholder approach, the plan incorporates There is now higher compliance with solid waste
earlier initiatives on the island that were found effective management ordinances in Boracay, particularly Ordinance
and sustainable in addressing the garbage problem and No. 185, which requires everyone to segregate their waste,
reinforces them with further innovations. hoisting a “no segregation, no collection” policy. While
a survey showed that the island produces 19.1 tons of
The education component calls for a massive information garbage a day, only 28 percent of this waste is shipped
and education campaign on solid waste and building the to the mainland’s landfill, while 35 percent is sold to the
capacity of the barangay SWM boards and community 10 junk buyers found in the island, who in turn bring it
volunteers on how to resolve the garbage problem. In to Manila, Cebu or Iloilo City. There, the junk buyers are
engineering, the plan prescribes the conversion of the able to sell recyclables such as plastic bottles, plastic
island’s open dumpsite to a sanitary landfill, establishment containers, metal, steel, aluminium cans, bottles and
of materials recovery facilities, road network development broken glass, worn out batteries and copper.
and acquisition of equipment, among others.
There is a prevalent practice among homes, resorts and
To enforce environmental laws and ordinances, a business establishments of recovering recyclables and
compliance monitoring team was organized while a selling them to buyers of factory-returnable items like
municipal auxiliary police force was established and aluminium cans, tins cans, PET bottles and glass bottles.
deputized. Penalties and fines for violators would be strictly Likewise, 37 percent of the total garbage produced on the
imposed while those who upheld the law and those who island becomes compost for gardens in resorts and areas
properly practiced ecological solid waste management devoted to cash crop production.
would be rewarded with citations and awards. The
schedule for regular reviews of municipal ordinances on Boarding houses where many of those who sought work
solid waste management was also set. on the island are staying have also been complying with
the ordinance that requires them to provide garbage
The entrepreneurship component recommends networking receptacles in every room, and they have been complying
with junk buyers where recyclables can be sold, upgrading religiously with garbage disposal schedules. The ordinance
and increasing garbage fees to fund solid waste penalizes erring boarding houses either with the revocation
management programs, and ensuring compliance by of their license and permit to operation, or through fines,
households, resorts and business establishments with laws imprisonment, or both.
and municipal ordinances. Livelihood
projects anchored on recycling and
composting were also encouraged.
A multi-sectoral monitoring team is
now functioning on the island and
private partners are already purchasing
recyclables to reduce the volume of
garbage that goes to the landfill.

Strategically, the three barangay

captains sit as members of the
Municipal Ecological Solid Waste
Management Board of Malay, which
counts among its members several
non-governmental organizations and
civic groups based on the island,
like the Boracay Foundation, BCCI,
the Kiwanis Club of Boracay, and
the Rotary Club of Boracay. The
membership of the island’s barangay
captains in the MESWMB gives them
an opportunity to articulate their
concerns on solid waste to the board
as well as to echo their respective
barangay’s discussions and decisions
that have transpired at the municipal

Building a Resilient Region 45

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

Partners’ support
A strong partnership was
established with the tourism
business sector, particularly
with the Boracay Foundation
Inc. (BFI). To support the solid
waste management program,
the group unveiled its own
Environmental Management
Plan, which outlines a vision
for self-regulation and self-
monitoring, and forwards the
concept of “good housekeeping”
to its members. BFI is a non-
stock, non-profit association
composed of at least 70 resorts
and business establishments.
Organized in 1996, it works
closely with the local government
of Malay as well as with civic
groups and associations on
the island on solid waste

Under the plan, each BFI

member identifies an ecological
officer from among its employees ESWM, an outstanding barangay captain, an outstanding
to be trained in solid waste management. That person is selda leader, and an outstanding eco-house. Cash prizes
then tasked to see to it that guests, clients and employees ranging from P10,000 (US$200) to P30,000 (US$600) were
of the resort or business establishment practice waste given to the winners of the contest.
segregation, sorting and the recovery of recyclables, and
that the resort or business establishment complies with the The award evolved from an earlier initiative dubbed Galing
collection schedule set by the municipal government. Boracay Awards on Excellent Eco-waste Project, launched
in 1997 by BFI together with the municipal government of
The ecological officer is also in charge of the Malay, CUI, the Department of Tourism, DENR and the
information and education campaign in the workplace. LGSP-CIDA. Projects cited included those on composting,
Good housekeeping calls for freshwater and energy recycling and effective solid waste segregation.
conservation, and for hotels to monitor the practices of
their personnel and guests to assure that unsuitable or The local government, for its part, has its own award-
harmful substances – like oils and fats, paints, thinners, giving program known as Magaling, an acronym for Malay
solvents and other poisonous chemicals that could harm Gawad Alkalde sa Linis at Ganda (Malay Mayor’s Award
the biological process – do not go into the sewers. for Cleanliness and Beautification), which recognizes
urban and rural barangays as well as elementary and high
school campuses in the municipality that excel in solid
Recognizing Good Work waste management practices. Integrating the three major
BFI began other initiatives aimed at addressing the
environmental programs of the government, it aims to
solid waste problem. Of late, a notable endeavour was
provide the institutional mechanism to effectively manage
the island-wide search for the Best Ecological Solid
the environment by granting awards and incentives to
Waste Management (ESWM) Practitioners 2005, which
barangays and public schools that perform well.
it launched together with Smart Telecommunications,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Central
The project aims to assess the performance of the
Office, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau-Region
barangays in areas of cleaning and greening as well as
6, the travel company 7107 Life and the local government
in forest, coastal resource, and solid waste management,
of Boracay.
to recognize outstanding performance, and to provide
a venue to mobilize barangays and schools for solid
The search aimed to strengthen the implementation of the
waste management. To ensure sustainability, a quarterly
Ecological Solid Waste Management Law of 2000, foster
assessment is conducted and an unannounced
multi-sectoral and community participation in keeping
assessment is done once every semester. The search was
Boracay clean, sustain the efforts of the barangays in
conducted across the whole municipality, but, within the
waste management and encourage others to practice solid
urban barangay category, the three barangays of Boracay,
waste management. It feted an outstanding barangay in

46 Building a Resilient Region

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

the poblacion (town proper) and the port village of

Caticlan (the jump-off point to Boracay) competed against
each other.

The establishment of the award systems in Boracay

not only encouraged others to achieve their solid waste
management goals, but it also served as a rallying point
over which the garbage issue could be discussed. It
also served as a venue for the private sector to provide
support to solid waste management programs, and at the
same time to act as a mechanism ensuring the continuity
of the program.

Other Accomplishments
To strengthen the Boracay Island Solid Waste
Management Project, the municipal government assigned
35 staff members to work on it, all of whom had received
training to increase their understanding of solid waste
management. Equipment for collection and disposal
was acquired, which included three trucks and six push
carts. To comply further with the ecological solid waste
management law, a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
was constructed in the island’s dumpsite area. A shredder
machine was also acquired to complement the MRF.

The project conducted orientation programs on the

Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 for
resort owners, which increased their level of participation
in the Municipal Ecological Solid Waste Management
Program on the island. A Project Impact, Monitoring and
Evaluation Workshop was held for project implementers.
A dialogue with the DENR’s Environmental Management
Bureau (EMB) regarding ecological solid waste
management plan implementation was undertaken to
solicit support from EMB. As a result, the office assigned
an Ecological Solid Waste Management Coordinator to
management purposes. There is also no funding allocation
Boracay Island.
for selda leaders to make them more functional.

Challenges and Solutions In 2004, for example, the municipal government earmarked
The solid waste management project in Boracay P2 million (US$42,000) for solid waste, but its revenues
encountered a number of challenges along the way; only reached P1.5 million (US$31,000). To generate funds
however, these problems also served as learning to fill this budget gap, an environmental fee of P50 (US$1)
experiences for the local government unit and other per tourist was imposed starting in January 2006. From
stakeholders on how to improve the delivery of services this, Malay was able to generate an income of P17,586,660
to target beneficiaries. Learning from other experiences, (US$ 366,000) in 2006, P22,776,390 (US$475,000) in
stakeholders proposed solutions to ensure that programs 2007, and P24,883,850 (US$ 518,000) in 2008.
were carried out effectively and efficiently. Some solutions
to challenges also revealed the strong partnership that was In the meantime, the local government established
established among stakeholders. linkages with government agencies, non-governmental
organizations, and private organizations to acquire
A major challenge that was identified early on in the assistance. DENR, for example, provided a P500,000
project was the lack of financial resources to fund solid (US$10,000) grant to the island’s solid waste management
waste management initiatives, compounded by a relatively program. A hotel and a senator donated dump trucks
minimal garbage fee that the municipal government for garbage collection. In 2008, the Japan International
charges from resorts and business establishments. Cooperation Agency (JICA) started reassessing the island’s
The most that the town can charge, as prescribed by its garbage problem to come up with a master plan on solid
municipal revenue ordinance, was a garbage fee of P1,200 waste management in Boracay.
(US$25). This generated insufficient funding, resulting
in the lack of equipment and machines for solid waste Another challenge was how to make the implementation

Building a Resilient Region 47

Malay: Boracay’s War on Waste

of the garbage segregation policy, both at the source and solid waste management system will best achieve solid
in the collection system, consistent. The municipality has waste management goals.
a “no waste segregation, no collection” policy, and some •  All elements of society are fundamentally responsible
hotels had religiously observed this. However, even if for solid waste management. Those who generate waste
garbage was being segregated, garbage collectors would must bear the cost of its management and disposal
just dump it altogether in the collection trucks, rendering •  Solid waste management should be approached
the pre-collection segregation practice useless. Continuous within the context of resource conservation,
training and orientation on solid waste management was environmental protection and health, and sustainable
provided to garbage collectors to help them understand the development.
waste segregation process.
The partnership that was built in Boracay to address solid
waste management issues fulfills these guiding principles.
By having a partnership mechanism, communities could
be active participants in addressing solid waste problems
if they were only given a venue for participation and turned
into champions of ecological solid waste management.

Partnership has also harmonized the solid waste

management activities of various groups, resulting
in the effective and efficient delivery of services to a
unique constituency like Boracay. Easy exchange of
information and the smooth flow of communication within
the partnership structure encouraged transparency and

What now sustains solid waste management actions

in Boracay is the capacity that was built amongst its
stakeholders. It was an investment that yielded a high
return, particularly on how projects and programs have
responded smoothly to new policies and changes in
political leadership. Plans that were conceived during
An innovative move was the designation of ecological earlier administrations have easily become policy
officers among resorts and business establishments documents for subsequent structures and leaders.
who are members of the BFI. Trained in solid waste
management, the ecological officer personnel is tasked to It was also evident that municipal leadership sets the
see to it that guests, clients and employees of the resort tempo of activities for solid waste management. Without
or business establishment practice waste segregation, the full support of the local leader, action plans could not
sorting and the recovery of recyclables, and that the resort move forward. When, for example, it was recommended
or business establishment complies with the collection that the municipal solid waste management board should
schedule set by the municipal government. be reorganized, the municipal mayor responded positively.
Making a champion on solid waste management out of the
Such cooperative endeavours show that Boracay local leadership can spell the realization of project goals.
stakeholders have moved beyond the divisive environment
that used to reign on the island and have become a Given its limited financial and human resources, the
cohesive and collaborative community. There was a time municipality of Malay focused on small and calculated
when resorts and business establishments were in conflict actions rather than on big, complex strategies. This showed
with the DOT over policies and disagreements were a that local governments can effectively carry out plans and
constant occurrence. But this has since been replaced programs if they work within their capacity, while constantly
by strong partnership following a series of workshops, strengthening it. Stretching resources beyond their limits
dialogues and forums where differences were resolved will do no good for local governments.
and compromise solutions to problems besetting the island
were reached. While the volume of garbage in Boracay was not drastically
reduced overnight, its experience in addressing the
Lessons problem of solid waste showed that partnership – and
The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 the eventual building of structures and mechanisms to
prescribes guiding principles on solid waste management. institutionalize it – can work wonders for a seemingly
These include: irreversible phenomenon, and eventually balance the
contrast between beauty and garbage.
•  There is no single management and technological
approach to solid waste management. An integrated

48 Building a Resilient Region

Strengthening the Municipal Role in Health and Sanitation
Billed as the jewel of the Philippine
tourism industry, Boracay Island off Malay
town in the central Philippine province of
Aklan attracts hundreds of thousands of
local and foreign tourists every year to
its white sand beach. But the advent of
tourism brought more than beachcombers
to Boracay; it also brought about
overdevelopment, creating a number of
environmental and public health problems.
Poor sanitation, deteriorating water quality
and overcrowding bred parasitism, diarrhoea,
malnutrition and lung infections. Cases of
sexually transmitted diseases flourished as

Profit-driven tourism promotion has continued

to be the prime concern of almost everyone the level of awareness of people through continuous
in Boracay. Despite the huge volume of tourists descending information and education campaigns.
on the island every year – and the figures are still going up
– the number and the trend were not enough to convince BISHSDP was supported by the Canadian Urban Institute,
resort owners that something needed to be done about which had partnered with the Municipality of Malay (the
the problems associated with overdevelopment. As such, local government that covers the island of Boracay) to
not only the health of the island suffered, but also that raise its capacity to take action to improve the island’s
of its long-time residents who share the island and its environmental health. CUI’s work was supported with
health services with the newcomers who now make up the funding from the Canadian International Development
majority of the population. Agency.

Health service delivery on the island had either been poor Raising the Concern
or inadequate for various reasons, ranging from lack of The concern for the island’s health status was raised a
funds and poor capacity of service providers to deliver the year before, when participants in a forum saw the need to
expected services to lack of public participation and low urgently address worsening health problems in Boracay.
level of awareness. Consequently, there had been a high Consultations were held with barangays, organizations,
number of cases of upper respiratory infections, pulmonary and other concerned citizens to raise the awareness of
tuberculosis, diarrhoea, bronchitis and severe anaemia barangay officials, health service providers, volunteers and
due to poor diet, unsanitary and unhealthy habits and organizations about the situation. Several forums followed,
congestion. resulting in the establishment of mechanisms for planning,
implementation and monitoring and evaluation, which
To make matters worse, Boracay’s groundwater had been laid the foundation for the project to improve health and
contaminated by sewage coming from resorts and homes sanitation on Boracay.
as well as leachate from solid waste, rendering it unsafe
for households that did not have potable water connections Kicking off the project’s implementation was an
and collected drinking water from wells. By the end of assessment of the health service delivery mechanisms
2003, only 53 percent of the 2,701 households were of the municipality of Malay. This included a review of
serviced by the water system on the island. Aside from its health programs and projects, an analysis of gender
sewage contamination, seawater intrusion was induced by concerns, and an assessment of its capacity to implement
the overdrawing of water by resorts. programs and projects. Health indicators were identified,
the local government’s strengths and weaknesses were
The need to improve and sustain the health service categorized, and the opportunities and threats of the
delivery system in the three barangays (villages) on the project were summarized. Policy recommendations were
tourist island gave birth to the Boracay Island Sustainable made in accordance with the spirit of the United Nations’
Health Services Delivery Project (BISHSDP) in 2002. Millennium Development Goals.
Specifically, it aimed to improve the health and sanitation
status on Boracay Island, provide adequate health services To provide stakeholders with knowledge of the various
to residents, contract workers and tourists, and to raise processes that could lead to the improvement of health

Building a Resilient Region 49

Malay: Strengthening the Municipal Role in Health and Sanitation

service delivery, various health service delivery best support. Ongoing activities included the production and
practices were introduced through case studies, study distribution of information and education materials such as
tours and resource sharing. Capacity building activities, brochures, flyers, installation of signboards, radio plugs,
which targeted local officials, medical technologists, health advocacy to barangay officials and organizing barangay
workers and other sectors, included training, seminars assemblies and dialogues.
and workshops in the areas of planning and management,
project development and proposal writing, health care Additional staff and volunteers were hired and trained to
augment personnel requirements. More barangay
nutrition scholars and barangay health workers
were recruited.

Facility and Health Service Improvement sought

to make the three Barangay Health Stations
conform to the standards of Sentrong Sigla
(Center of Wellness) and provide them with the
necessary equipment, instruments, medicines and
medical supplies. Sentrong Sigla is a program by
the Philippines Department of Health that seeks to
provide a seal of excellence to health facilities that
have met quality standards. The Barangay Health
Stations health service delivery processes were
also improved to make them more efficient and

Environmental Sanitation Enhancement sought

to address the problem of the lack of access to
potable water and the absence of sanitary toilets
in some low income families’ homes on the island,
including helping to improve sanitary conditions.
Toilet bowls were provided to communities while
public toilets were constructed. There is ongoing
periodic water analysis and chlorination so that
financing and project monitoring and evaluation. potable water is safe for the communities.
Three top local executives – Malay Mayor Ceciron
Cawaling, Municipal Planning and Development Organizational Inroads
Coordinator Alma Belejerdo and Municipal Health Officer The project made a number of organizational inroads after
Dr. Adrian Salaver – were sent to the Asian Institute of it advocated for support from different sectors on the island,
Management to learn about programs on Health Care including from the local governments of Aklan, Malay and
Strategic Management, Health Care Service Delivery the three barangays on the island, national government
Management and Health Care Financial Management. agencies like the Department of Health and the Department
They became familiar with concepts and practices on of Environment and Natural Resources and civil society
creating health strategic plans, generating policies on organizations like the Boracay Foundation and the Boracay
customer satisfaction, and measuring and improving the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A multi-stakeholder
financial health and performance of health care institutions. Project Steering Committee was established to oversee the
project’s implementation.
Program Components
To carry out the BISHSDP, four program components The Boracay Island Health System Development Plan was
were introduced – Information and Education Campaigns, drawn up to guide local actions on health service delivery,
Human Resources Development, Facility and Health assigning responsibilities and setting budgets to achieve
Service Improvements, and Environmental Sanitation its goals. The plan was a product of a strategic planning
Enhancement. All these were likewise geared towards workshop where participants agreed to a vision dubbed
building a strong partnership among health stakeholders on HAPI Boracay, short for “Happy and People-Inspired
the island. Island.” Likewise, a Health Program Implementation
Review (HPIR) is now conducted annually to monitor and
Information and Education Campaigns sought to increase evaluate the project on top of the regular weekly meeting
the level of awareness and participation of all stakeholders between midwives and barangay health workers.
in the program by encouraging them to take care of their
health through availing themselves of services and through The Municipal Health Office (MHO) of Malay became
participating in programs and projects needing community fully functional following the upgrading of facilities and
acquisition of new equipment. An MHO extension office

50 Building a Resilient Region

Malay: Strengthening the Municipal Role in Health and Sanitation

health monitors to assist the

town’s three sanitary inspectors
in implementing health and
sanitation ordinances. Funds
were also allocated to the
improvement and expansion
of the MHO extension office
in Boracay, whose laboratory
was recently upgraded to a
higher standard as set by the
Department of Health.

Meanwhile, MHO nurses

have continuously received
training to equip them with
new knowledge and skills,
particularly in health service
areas most needed in Boracay.
Midwives were also trained in
newborn screening.
Medical technologists in the
MHO have undergone HIV/
AIDS training and an HIV/
AIDS screening and testing
laboratory was established to
respond to a disease rampant
A health station on Boracay Island
in many mass tourism areas.
was opened in 2004 in Barangay Yapak, just across from
the Don Ciriaco Señeres Tirol Memorial Hospital, which
is also equipped with a dental clinic – the only municipal
Increased Consciousness
Information and education campaigns on HIV/AIDS and on
health office with a dental facility. The MHO in Boracay also
adolescent reproductive health were also launched, among
has a birthing clinic.
them a regular forum on reproductive health and a radio
program dubbed kaMALAYan, coined after Malay and the
Meanwhile, the Barangay Health Station of Yapak was
Tagalog word “kamalayan,” which means “consciousness.”
improved and funding has already been secured for the
Barangay Health Station of Balabag. A school-based
A yearly orientation on HIV/AIDS is given to businesses
youth centre was established and the number of health
every time they seek the renewal of their business permits,
volunteers has increased.
with special focus on those operating spas and tattoo
parlours, where the risks are highest. Food handlers are
The operating, emergency, labour and paediatrics rooms at
also required to attend sessions on food safety and food
the Don Ciriaco Señeres Tirol Memorial Hospital in Boracay
have likewise been improved. Equipment was acquired
over the past years, which included an anaesthesia
With increased health consciousness, the number of
machine, a defibrillator, a generator, an air-conditioner,
households with potable water connections rose to 97.95
stretchers, an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine and an
percent by the end of 2005 from 53 percent in 2003. There
has also been progressive allocation of funds by the
barangay and the municipal governments for health care.
Legislating for Sanitation A trust fund for social hygiene concerns and adolescent
Malay has a solid waste management ordinance requiring reproductive health was also established. The MHO
homes and businesses to observe waste segregation produced hepatitis vaccines using the Philippine Health
and other sound garbage disposal practices, prescribing Insurance System (PhilHealth) Fund and sold them at cost.
penalties for violators. In 2008, the Malay municipal council
also passed an ordinance prohibiting the raising of pigs, The influx of tourists may have proved stressful for the
after the Municipal Health Board identified pig manure as fragile Boracay Island, but through the initiatives launched
a top source of sanitation problems in Boracay. Another by the BISHSDP, there is hope that at least some of the
ordinance was passed requiring boarding houses to negative effects of this stress have been identified and
provide garbage receptacles to all their occupants. addressed.

The municipal government has also approved an

appropriation ordinance that allocated funds to hire six

Building a Resilient Region 51