Exploring opportunities for low-cost housing

There’s a flurry of activities related to real estate development all around us.

They are exciting if not dizzying and they are all over – from primary urban areas of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao to the impressive New Clark City in Luzon, the emerging lovely cities of Iloilo and Bacolod in the Visayas and the fast-rising city of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao.

But there is still a lot that we need to do to complete the one million housing units a year or six million units in six years target of the Marcos administration to address our housing backlog of 6.5 million.

I humbly propose to government these novel ideas to complement the ongoing efforts of this administration to provide low-cost housing all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao:


I propose the gradual decongestion of Metro Manila via the creation of three railway loops.

This can be done by constructing new lines connecting to existing and ongoing lines in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and along the shores of Laguna de Bay that will in turn provide new areas for development of new human settlements and business centers that could turn into the biggest megalopolis in Southeast Asia.

The purpose is to form more desirable closed loops of railway lines, thereby creating bigger and more cohesive areas for socio-economic development of entirely new settlement areas and business centers.

The proposed loops are as follows:


Central Luzon Railway Loop

Tarlac City – Clark City – The North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR) -San Fernando – Cabanatuan – Tarlac City

Cavite/Laguna/Batangas Railway Loop

LRT1 Cavite PITX Station Kawit – Ternate – Nasugbu – Batangas City – Lipa – Sto Tomas – NSCR/PNR Calamba, Laguna de Bay Railway Loop

NSCR/PNR Calamba – Los Baños – Pagsanjan – Paete – Siniloan – Morong – Binangonan – MRT4 Taytay


In Visayas, I propose the revival of old railways networks in Panay, Negros and Cebu with the purpose of improving the transport of farm goods and people. This can create new residential communities and commercial centers.


Panay Railways – Iloilo City to Roxas City

Negros Island

VMC Railways System – The Victoria’s Milling Company’s System was one of the largest two-foot gauge railways in the world with over 400 kilometers of route

Cebu Island

The island of Cebu was historically served by the 92-kilometer Cebu Line of the Philippine Railway Co. between 1811 and 1942.


The government can take advantage of the possibilities for low-cost housing development along the long-delayed Mindanao Rail Network and explore the possibility for low-cost housing along a proposed Muslim-Catholic Friendship Railway that we could offer for investment to our rich friends in the middle east.

Considering the significant contribution of our OFWs in the Muslim countries of the Arabian Gulf Region for several decades now, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, I believe that this project, if realized, could be a fitting testament to our longstanding friendship and cooperation with them.

The suggested route of the Muslim-Catholic Friendship Railway is as follows:

The Catholic city of Iligan to the BARMM Muslim cities of Marawi and Cotabato then toward the Catholic city of General Santos, the hometown of our world-famous boxing hero Manny Pacquiao.

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 Alex Serrano, an engineer who worked in Saudi, Oman, Libya, Qatar and Bahrain, is a Bicol-based Filipino with a passion for churning out ideas for a better Philippines.