The truth about living in the Philippines

As we find ourselves at the midpoint of the year, I could not help but reflect on the journey I’ve had as Property Editor. As a result, I decided to challenge myself to translate the insights I have gained over the past months into a column so I can personally share what I have been slowly learning.

The name of this column plays on the two meanings of “living.” According to Merriam-Webster, ‘living’ means both ‘having life’ and ‘the condition of being alive.’ These meanings capture what I hope to share through this space – about living in the Philippines, and more importantly, about how truly alive, and what a beautiful living being the Philippines is.

It’s fitting that we reach this midpoint during The Philippine STAR’s anniversary month. On July 28, 2024, The Philippine STAR celebrates another milestone in its history, marking more than three decades of serving as a beacon of truth and nation-building for the Filipino people. In an era where understanding and valuing truth is more crucial than ever, we celebrate our guiding principle with our 38th anniversary theme: #W38ELIEVE: STAND WITH TRUTH.

This theme calls for our readers to examine their beliefs more closely, invites thinkers to share what they believe will improve Filipino lives, and, most importantly, is an exercise in hope—just as #W38ELIEVE in the power of journalism to impact lives. But how does this tie into the theme of living? The truth is, living authentically and fully requires a deep connection to our environment, our homes, and our communities.

In the Property Report, “We Believe: Stand with Truth” underscores the value of authenticity in real estate. Authenticity attracts investors and lays the foundation for homeowners to live their most genuine lives. This month, we reach out to readers seeking homes and communities that align with their values and lifestyle aspirations. Our aim is to guide readers toward making informed decisions that empower them to live their truest, best lives in environments that genuinely reflect who they are.

A vision for a living Philippines

I recently attended the launch of the Palafox “Philippines 2050” campaign as part of the company’s 35th anniversary. This celebration highlighted Palafox’s continuous advocacy for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive communities and cities. The “Philippines 2050” campaign is a bold and transformative plan for the nation’s future, aiming to position the Philippines as a competitive country with a strong economy by 2050. This initiative seeks to engage various sectors, from government and private entities to environmental advocates and civil society, in a collective effort to achieve this vision.

Architect Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr.

Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr., Founder and Principal Architect and Urban Planner, marks 52 years as an architect and 50 years as an urban planner this year. His vision for the future includes good governance, transparency, addressing climate change, reducing carbon footprints, and ensuring fair wealth distribution and seamless connectivity through disaster-proof design. “As the Philippine population continues to grow, we would need new cities that are healthy, sustainable, resilient, livable, and smart cities by 2050,” he stresses.

A seemingly lofty goal, but when asked how such a long campaign can be begun, he highlighted three key areas that should be first focused on, “First, we must focus on planning, incorporating city-beautiful and city-efficient movements. Second, we have to start developing the provinces, and hopefully with the involvement of the private sector. And third, we must improve education. In Paris, they teach art and architecture appreciation in grade schools. [This is something we should also do here.]”

Author with Anna Medina, Patricia Morato-Roa, and Karmi Palafox

Karmi Palafox, Director and Senior Urban Planner at PALAFOX, agreed and emphasized the importance of tactical urbanism, “There’s a term called tactical urbanism. For example, in New York, a really good transport planner, a woman, started a small project to make an area bike-friendly and walkable just by buying beach chairs and painting an area to become pedestrian-friendly. Some people think infrastructure projects are too expensive, but sometimes you can just start small – work what you can with people who are willing, and then other people can start seeing possibilities.”

A call to truly live life in the Philippines

In my very first article, I posed the question, “HOW DO YOU WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE?” Today, as I reflect on the past months and the words shared by Architect Palafox, I realized that I write this column to begin to answer that question.

A significant part of living in a vibrant Philippines is recognizing our role as citizens in its development. With infrastructure and development moving beyond the cities, it’s time to explore more of this beautiful country. The pandemic prompted many to venture out of urban centers, and now, with the danger subsiding, our new perspective and desires must remain steadfast and even grow.

“Love the Philippines” must evolve into action—an invitation to discover more and truly live a life in the Philippines. Let’s decongest the cities, explore the north and south, and embrace new ways of living. As we embark on this journey, we’ll find that living authentically and vibrantly in the Philippines is not just a dream but a tangible reality.

Living the truth means embracing the full spectrum of what it means to be alive in this country. It is about being honest with ourselves and our communities about what we need to thrive. It is about starting small, starting conversations and implementing changes in our own barangays and with our LGUs. It is acknowledging the challenges and working together toward solutions that benefit everyone. In doing so, we not only honor our own lives but also contribute to a living, breathing Philippines that reflects our highest aspirations.