The image of EDSA, used as “backdrop,” is courtesy of Richard Reyes/Philippine Daily Inquirer. The modified version of the same image—where an image of a prospective elevated bike lane is super-imposed—is courtesy of Anders Berensson Architects of Sweden. The bike lanes envisioned by this author will have protective roofs and railings for added security. A future work will calculate if putting solar panels on the roofs will be viable.

Sky bike lanes to reduce private cars on the road by 24 to 33%

Majority of Metro Manila residents favor sky bike lanes

[Note: This is a repost of my article, which was also published in Linkedin. This article is based on (with many portions directly lifted from) my thesis (special problem) for the Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management program of the UP Open University.]

The image of EDSA, used as “backdrop,” is courtesy of Richard Reyes/Philippine Daily Inquirer. The modified version of the same image—where an image of a prospective elevated bike lane is super-imposed—is courtesy of Anders Berensson Architects of Sweden. The bike lanes envisioned by this author will have protective roofs and railings for added security. A future work will calculate if putting solar panels on the roofs will be viable.

The image of EDSA, used as “backdrop,” is courtesy of Richard Reyes/Philippine Daily Inquirer. The modified version of the same image—where an image of a prospective elevated bike lane is super-imposed—is courtesy of Anders Berensson Architects of Sweden. The bike lanes envisioned by this author will have protective roofs and railings for added security. A future work will calculate if putting solar panels on the roofs will be viable.

Metro Manila is indeed among the most congested cities in the world. A study made by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has estimated that losses from traffic congestion in Manila could reach up to P6 billion per day in the next fifteen years (Jica, 2014).

Meanwhile, a World Bank study in 2004 estimated that PhP 910 million was spent on hospitalization and medical expenses for the treatment of non-communicable diseases that include acute lower respiratory infection/pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

Dealing with traffic congestion entails interventions in several fronts, particularly, in policy, infrastructural, and behavioral dimensions. This study is focused on the infrastructural dimension with the caveat that the other dimensions should also be equally addressed if Metro Manilans are to effectively address the issue.

A simple policy-based solution to the traffic condition is to lessen the number of vehicles on the road particularly given that the road network is not catching up significantly with the increase in vehicle and population. This is already being addressed by policies such as the number-coding scheme. This helps but other solutions are clearly required.

A preliminary study had been undertaken and considers an infrastructural approach as a support mechanism for policy- and behavior-based interventions. It looks at the construction of sky (elevated) bicycle (bike) lanes in Metro Manila, with the assumption that it can help reduce the number of motorized vehicles on the road, and, consequently, reduce congestion and carbon emissions, thereby contribute to climate change mitigation.

This initial work—envisioned to contribute to future pre-feasibility and feasibility studies—considers the likely impacts of this intervention, estimating the impacts through reduction of motorized vehicles and carbon emissions. The results of the preliminary study—based on a survey with 250 respondents and complemented by relevant work all over the world—support the case for the construction of a well-integrated network of bicycle lanes (with most of them elevated) as this will likely result to the 24 to 33.37% reduction of private motor vehicles on the road, leading to the potential decrease in greenhouse gas emissions of about 2.23 to 4.46 millionmetric tons CO2e annually by year 2030. This is roughly the same amount of carbon that can be sequestered by 57.76 to 115.54 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Majority of Metro Manila residents favor sky bike lanes 

The survey also revealed that there is an overwhelming support on the building of sky bike lanes in Metro Manila based on the number of respondents who said that they like the idea—221 people, representing 88% of the total respondents (n = 250). With the high number of supporters and potential bikers, the question that comes to mind is, “Why are there so many people not biking to work/school these days?” The question had been answered by the survey as well.

Safety as a major deterrent

For current non-bikers, safety concern is the top reason why they do not want to bike. In the question, “If you answered NO above (#4 in the questionnaire), what is the main reason why you don’t bike or don’t like biking?”, 57 persons (38%) said they are concerned about road safety. The next top concern is on possible health impact (e.g., poor air quality) (Figure 1).

Figure 1. NON-BIKERS: Reasons for Not Biking

Figure 1. NON-BIKERS: Reasons for Not Biking

These results are consistent with studies in other countries. In what could be among the most extensive studies on biking, Monsere et al. (2014) worked with the US National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and National Association of City Transportation Officials and considered the importance of segregated bike lanes.

They saw that safety concern is indeed a major deterrent toward the use of bicycles. Their studies, along with work of other experts in the field estimated that many (e.g., 60% of the US population) are “interested but concerned” but that 81% of this segment will likely feel “comfortable” on streets with a separate bike lane. Interestingly, if we will add 38% (concerned about road safety) and 24% (concerned about health impacts) from this survey (proposed Sky Bike Lanes for Metro Manila), they will add up to 62%–which is close to the result (60%) in the US. Certainly, there is another layer of complexity about safety concerns and a simple mathematical solution is not going to resolve that. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that there is a universal truth about feeling scared on the road if one is biking (unprotected) in busy roads.

Similarly, Fraser and Lock (2011), undertook a systematic review of literature, which analyzed the impact of built environment, for example, dedicated bicycle routes, toward increase in cycling in a given society or population. Their review of 11 studies showed that environmental factors indeed had a positive association with cycling. This means that factors such as presence of dedicated bicycle lanes, separation of cycling from other traffic, short distances (e.g., from home to school) contribute to people’s willingness and decision to bike.

Two to 4 car owners (out of 10) will leave cars behind if there are sky bike lanes

Based on the Metro Manila survey, 43 (42%) car owners indicated the desire to use the bike lanes “all the time or often (e.g., at least three times a week).” By adding those who indicated using them “occasionally (or at least once a week)” (13%) and “every now and then” (35%), there is a potential of 90% of car owners using the bike lanes in varying frequency.

Based on the study’s estimations (using projections undertaken by Jica in 2014), there is a reduction of volume by 24% by 2020. This means that 2-3 out of 10 persons who own cars will likely bike to work/destination by 2020 if there is already a good network of sky bike lanes by then.

Using a second set of scenario (where there will be more bikers), there will be a likely reduction of private car volume by 33.37%. Again, this means that that 3-4 out of 10 persons who own cars will likely bike to work/destination by 2030 if there is already a good network of sky bike lanes by then.

Meanwhile, the estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of about 2.23 to 4.46 millionmetric tons CO2e annually by year 2030 is better illustrated by using the US EPA online Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator (USEPA, 2017). Clearly, the estimated reduction of carbon emissions that the proposed sky bike lanes will likely contribute is significant. For example, the volume of reduction is the same as the amount of emissions that may be sequestered from roughly 57.76 to 115.54 million of tree seedlings grown for 10 years (Figure 2).

Figure 2. What does 2.23 and 4.46 million MT of CO2e mean?  [Source: US EPA, 2017]

Figure 2. What does 2.23 and 4.46 million MT of CO2e mean?
[Source: US EPA, 2017]

Sky bike lanes in other countries

The construction of sky (elevated) bike lanes is a fairly new intervention. There is no official count available online but there could be about ten (10) elevated bike lanes all over the world so far with about four (4) of them under construction or in the planning stage. Nevertheless, this preliminary study—despite its focus on a relatively novel idea—will, hopefully, contribute to continuing discourses and encourage more research work on the effectivity of segregated, specifically, elevated bike lanes, for cities like Metro Manila—where there is no longer much space on the ground for any massive infrastructural intervention.

One of the more popular sky bike lanes is the Cykelslangen (Bicycle Snake) in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is constructed over the Copenhagen Harbor, 4-meter wide (with two lanes) and 230-meter long. It is about 5.5 m in height from the quay and used by 12,500 bikers/day. It cost the Danish government about US$6.6 million to construct.

Cykelslangen (Bicycle Snake) in Copenhagen, Denmark. [Image courtesy of Dissing+Weitling Architecture]

Cykelslangen (Bicycle Snake) in Copenhagen, Denmark. [Image courtesy of Dissing+Weitling Architecture]

Meanwhile, the Bicycle Skyway in Xiamen, China, is probably the latest to be built, with the government opening it to public in early 2017 (Travers, 2017). The elevated bike lane—inspired by a concept by middle school students who won in a local science and technology competition—straddles over five residential areas and three business districts. The bike lane can be reached through 11 entrances, which also connect to the same number of bus stops and two underground rail stations (Johnston, 2017). It took safety considerations very seriously by installing 30,000 lights and automated gates that help monitor flow and capacity (Johnston, 2017).

The newly-build elevated bike lane in Xiamen (China)—at 8 km, it is touted to be the longest so far in the world. [Image courtesy of E. Johnston/Road.cc]

The newly-build elevated bike lane in Xiamen (China)—at 8 km, it is touted to be the longest so far in the world. [Image courtesy of E. Johnston/Road.cc]

Another good example is the 1-km shared bicycle lane and walkway that has transformed the urban landscape of this part of Auckland, New Zealand. Called,Te Ara I Whiti (Light Path), it is found in Nelson Street andhas received international recognition in the World Architecture Awards in 2015. Its name was inspired by the integration of LED mood lights that keep on changing colors.

Te Ara I Whiti (Light Path) in Auckland, New Zealand. [Image and data courtesy of GHD, Katz Maihi and Iwi, Monk Mackenzie Architects, LandLab, and Novare]

Te Ara I Whiti (Light Path) in Auckland, New Zealand. [Image and data courtesy of GHD, Katz Maihi and Iwi, Monk Mackenzie Architects, LandLab, and Novare]

The case for segregation

Ziemba, Mitra, and Hess (2012) looked at the important question on segregation and their study revealed that there was indeed an increase in the number of bikers when bike lanes are physically separated and improved. The improvement in the design of a bike lane in Sherbourne Street (downtown Toronto) led to an increase in the number of bikers, where almost 24% of the respondents who are newbikers shifted from driving. Meanwhile, Strauss and Moreno (2013) undertook a study in Montreal and found that 61% more cyclists are found in intersections that have segregated bike lanes than in street corners without.

A comprehensive study for the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan(State of New South Wales through Transport for NSW, 2013) with over 1,200 submissions revealed that 70% of NSW residents indicated that they will likely bike more if it was safer and more convenient. The strategies outlined are evidence-based, indicating, for example, that comparing the number of vehicles and bicycles in a particular street with segregated bike lane during a peak hour (8:00 to 9:00 am), more number of people are traveling by bicycles.

The results of this study as well as other reports became bases for the strategy paper developed by the National Roads and Motorists Association of Australia (2015), which also favor the construction of separated or segregated bike lanes that are intelligently located and form a grid. This means that bike lanes should be continuous (as against disconnected). The Association emphasized that “more continuous separated routes will make cycling a more attractive option and reduce the safety risks associated with funneling cyclists onto roads where cycle paths suddenly end.

Meanwhile, a study by Teschke et al. (2012) compared roads with and without segregated bike lanes and the results showed a reduction in the risk of crashes by nine (9) times. Buehler and Dill (2015) undertook extensive literature review and came to the conclusion that many of existing research work do suggest that a high percentage of people favor “separate paths and/or lanes over cycling in roadways with motorized traffic — particularly with high volumes of fast-moving motorized traffic. Among bike facilities, cyclists and non-cyclists seem to prefer physically separated bike paths or cycle tracks to bike lanes or wide shoulders on roadways.”

Aside from safety considerations, impact on reduction of motorized vehicles (consequently, carbon emissions) is indeed very significant. Experiences in other countries show that biking (in some countries, along with walking) has a direct impact on the decrease of motorized vehicles on the road. In Netherlands—where biking registered a 30% share in total travel mode—car use is only at 45%. Compare this in a country like the US—where biking share is only at 1% (the lowest among the countries in the list)—car use is as high as 84%, generating the highest share. This was reiterated by Gosse and Clarens (2013) who highlighted that providing people with better bicycle facilities is an initiative that can increase share of non-motorized vehicles in the modal share without requiring huge investments.

Therefore, empirical data point to decline in motorized vehicle use where there are good systems and infrastructure such as segregated bike lanes, metro (subway), and sidewalks. While there is still a need to keep on analyzing experiences and validating data, such numbers should guide policymakers and decisionmakers in planning their cities particularly when it comes to transportation infrastructure.

There is no extensive study in the Philippines yet on the extent of biking although a study by Gozun and Guillen (2008) estimated that only around 2% of all trips in Metro Manila are made by bicycles. Latest statistics show a very high share of private cars at 71.3% by vehicle trips and 31% by modal share (Jica, 2014). The non-inclusion of biking in many transportation-related studies reflects that the extent of biking—while showing increasing trend in many countries and cities all over the world—is still low in the Philippines.

Study limitations

The survey is still currently open so as to ensure a robust analysis during the pre-feasibility and feasibility stages. Therefore, while diligent efforts had been exerted to cross-reference the initial results[1], assumptions, and analysis here with others’ work in the field, the calculations from the survey data shall be continuously enhanced in future work (and, at the current stage, should be used with caution).

No substantial data and analytical work are available on biking in the Philippines, much more, from peer-reviewed journals. Therefore, the author had to rely more on work in other countries. This poses limitations because conditions (e.g., climate) in other countries are very different. Nevertheless, this must be taken as a continuing challenge for researchers not just in the Philippines but all over the world.

This is an initial work on scenario development so focus is on preparing the ground work for better and more robust scenario building. As the sample size is smaller than the ideal, some data (e.g., anticipated distance to be covered by potential bikers) had not yet been utilized in anticipation of the more complete survey.

Paving the path toward urban renewal 

Clearly, the preliminary results and existing literature support the case for segregated bike lanes—where sky bike lanes fall under—and which are expected to encourage more bikers on the road (with many of them hoped as previous car owners). However, a robust feasibility study is crucial in order to ensure viability.

The traffic problem of Metro Manila requires multi-faceted solutions and the building of sky bike lanes alone will not solve it completely. Nevertheless, it is very crucial that the solution should include an intervention to lessen the number of motorized vehicles on the road—and increasing bikers on the road, along with effective and efficient mass transport systems, will help in ensuring this.

However, in the case of the Philippines, there is much to be done. The country has been “under-building” (e.g., mass transport systems) for the past decades but building too much in areas where they are aggravating congestion problems (e.g., shopping malls in central business districts).  The traffic problem (and the bigger part – urban decay) can only be addressed through multi-pronged interventions where both behavior and policies inter-weave.

More studies need to be to undertaken. It is ironical that with the gravity of the problem, substantial work and investigation still need to be done particularly with non-motorized transportation. The massive transportation challenges in Metro Manila can only be solved through a holistic approach where policy-, infrastructure- and behavior-based interventions are done comprehensively and systematically.

Constructing elevated bike lanes is an infrastructure-based intervention. It is not the end-all-be-all type of solution but the results of this study show a huge potential for reducing traffic gridlocks and massive congestion in Metro Manila—a reduction that will ultimately result to lasting socio-economic and environmental impacts including reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

While this is just a preliminary work for the bigger task ahead, it is hoped that this work becomes a basis for a more in-depth analysis of elevated bike lanes and a tool for policymaking, advocacy, and resource mobilization for the next stages.



[1] Based on 250 responses in the survey administered via Google forms (with cut-off date of 23 October 2017).

References:

Buehler, R. and Dill, J. (2015). Bikeway networks: A review of effects on cycling. Retrieved   from https://ralphbu.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/buehler-dill-treviews-2.pdf

Dissing+Weitling Architecture. (n.d.). The Bicycle Snake. Retrieved from http://www.dw.dk/cykelslangen-bicycle-snake

Fraser, S. & Lock, K. (2011). Cycling for transport and public health: A systematic review of the effect of the environment on cycling. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/21/6/738/493197/Cycling-for-transport-and-publichealth-a

Gosse, C. & Clarens, A. (2013). Quantifying the total cost of infrastructure to enable environmentally preferable decisions: The case of urban roadway design. Retrieved from http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748 9326/8/1/015028;jsessionid=545D4ACFA221562D900B3D2EA3F800F3.ip-10- 40-1-105

Gozun, B. & Guillen, M.D. (2008). Towards a Sustainable Transportation Environment: The Case of “Pedicabs” and Cycling in the Philippines, Thirteenth CODATU Conference of Urban Transport (CODATU XIII), Vietnam, 12-14 November 2008.Retrieved from http://www.codatu.org/wp-content/uploads/Towards-a-sustainable-transportation-environment.-The-case-of-Pedicabs-and-cycling-in-the-Philippines-Brian-GOZUN-Marie-Danielle-GUILLEN.pdf

Japan International Cooperation Agency. (2014). JICA transport study lists strategies for congestion-free MM by 2030 [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.jica.go.jp/philippine/english/office/topics/news/140902.html

Johnston, E. (2017). Longest elevated cycle path opens in China [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://road.cc/content/news/217380-longest-elevated-cycle-path-world-opens-china

Monsere, C., Dill, J., McNeil, N., Clifton, K., Foster, N., Goddard, T.,…Parks, J. (2014). Lessons from the green lanes: Evaluating protected bike lanes in the US(through Portland University, commissioned by the US National Institute for Transportation and Communities). Retrieved from https://bikeportland.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/06/NITC-RR583_ProtectedLanes_FinalReportb.pdf

National Roads and Motorists Association. (2015, March). Cycling strategy: A new vision for cycling in NSW.Retrieved from https://www.mynrma.com.au/images/About-Education/NRMA_Cycling_Strategy_-_March_2015.pdf

State of New South Wales through Transport for NSW. (2013, December). Sydney’s cycling future– Cycling for everyday transport. Retrieved from http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/sydneys-cyclingfuture-web.pdf

Teschke, K., Harris, A. Reynolds, C., Winters, M., Babul, S. Chipman, …Cripton, P. (2012). Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519333/

Travers, J. (2017). World’s longer aerial bike path inspired by middle school students. Retrieved from https://www.ecowatch.com/aerial-bike-path-china-2261408355.html

US Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

World Bank. (2004). Philippine Environment Monitor 2006. Retrieved from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPHILIPPINES/Resources/PEM06-chapter3.pdf

Ziemba, R., Mitra, R., and Hess, P. (2012). Mode substitution effect of urban cycle tracks: Case study of a downtown street in Toronto, Canada. Toronto: Ryerson University. Retrieved from http://www.ibiketo.ca/sites/default/files/Ziemba_mitra_hess_trb%20poster%202016.pdf

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
Save the date: 2-4 June 2019!

8th International Symposium & Exhibition on the Redevelopment of Manufactured Gas Plant Sites

Hello friends and visitors!

I am happy to announce the 8th International Symposium & Exhibition on the Redevelopment of Manufactured Gas Plant Sites (MGP 2019). It will be held on June 2-4, 2019 at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.

Save the date: 2-4 June 2019!

Save the date: 2-4 June 2019!

The Symposium Steering Committee is now inviting potential speakers and poster presenters. If you want to be involved in this important meeting through a paper or poster presentation, the deadline for submission of proposal is on 30 November 2018.

For more information, please visit https://mgpsymposium.com.

Deepest appreciation for the wonderful sponsors of MGP 2019! [If you want to support MGP 2019, too, please contact Gene or INSTEP directly!]

Deepest appreciation for the wonderful sponsors of MGP 2019! [If you want to support MGP 2019, too, please contact Gene or INSTEP directly!]

For submissions, please go to the following links:

Call for Speakers

https://mgpsymposium.com/call-for-abstracts

Call for Sponsors

https://mgpsymposium.com/sponsor

Call for Exhibitors

https://mgpsymposium.com/exhibit-details

For more information contact Gene Jones

1-850-558-0617 or by email at gene@instep.ws

International Society of Technological and Environmental Professionals (INSTEP)

Telephone 850 558 0617

Email info@instep.ws

Website instep.ws

____________________________

Full disclosure: This is a non-monetary sponsored blog (I am a supporter and non-paying member of INSTEP).

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
Experience the warmth of Banking Service [Image courtesy of Sterling Bank of Asia]

Why Sterling Bank of Asia Will Always be My Favorite Bank [Not a Paid Post!]

This is a long overdue post. I have been wanting to write this piece because I am genuinely impressed with the services of Sterling Bank of Asia (SBA).

First of all, it is important to clarify that this is not a paid/sponsored post and I rarely write blogs/articles for commercial entities. On those rare times that I do, it is only because I feel it is important to share great services or point out areas for improvement so that the the public may best be served.

These are the areas that I feel are very important (and which are missing in many banks these days):

1. Genuine customer focus orientation (and not simply lip service) - with SBA, one will not feel like you are just a “peso or dollar sign” to them; somehow, I observe this culture of pagmamalasakit (it’s hard to translate this word to English directly but it’s a combination of concern and empathy) where they genuinely help you achieve your goals; sure, banks are not supposed to be charitable organizations but with SBA, there is a good balance between profits and business ethics and social values;

2. Equal treatment of clients, big or small - no matter who you are, you easily  sense their respect with the way they treat people and clients. It is not based on what you are wearing, how “rich” you look, or how high your bank balance is.  I find this very refreshing because several months ago, I discovered a big bank’s discriminatory practices/policies vis-a-vis accounts of their small (or assumed to be “small”) clients. (And we’re not even talking of some branch managers who look at you from head to toe if you try to approach them, probably trying to guess how much is the shirt/dress that you are wearing or those who attend first to their billionaire clients before, say, an aspiring SME owner….you get the drift) ;D

I think big banks should finally realize that many Filipinos (especially the working class) avoid banks or do not save at all (there is a study about it).* There is a big market out there but because many from these untapped segment do not trust banks or find them unapproachable, they are not motivated to bank or save up. Another factor is the tendency to penalize small or temporarily small depositors due to low bank balances. This has to be addressed because (1) the system somehow balances itself (e.g., big depositors somehow “subsidize” services for small players); (2) normal people (even high-income people and investors) have ebb and flow in their finances and have changing needs and circumstances;  (3) a system of incentive is better than penalties–example, why penalize someone who needs to invest and withdraw a lot of funds? Why not simply incentivize people who maintain higher balances than penalize those who have other circumstances?

I think these simple principles are not even in the radar of many of the biggest banks! One gets the feeling that clients are just “milking cows”! In SBA, they do not make you feel this way. Sure, they have to follow Central Bank regulations, too, but they go out of their way to make clients feel secure, understood, and supported!

3. Professional and attentive personnel - their people are obviously well trained; the first time I made a call, the voice on the other line sounded professional and attentive and this remains to be so even now that I have been with them for more than a year! It is very consistent. The lady (during the first call) did not just give me generic responses (like an scripted monologue) but arranged for a meeting with the branch manager on the same day.

While some may argue that this may be because it is a small player compared with the biggest banks in the Philippines, I  will not buy such a reasoning because my experience in customer service has taught me that the bigger someone or a company becomes, the higher its responsibility becomes–and that includes expectations from the public. The more that one needs to excel because the stakes are higher!

I will not mention other banks’ names but some of the biggest banks do not even live by their credo or tagline. People take credos and taglines seriously and banks should not forget that the people/clients are the reasons for their existence.

With SBA, its credo /tagline of “Banking to a different beat” is clearly practiced! Sa totoo lang! (I am just saying the truth!) The tagline is not just “for show” or expensive billboards and TV ads.

4. Beyond a long list of services and products - sure, they offer what other banks offer but SBA has exceeded my expectations because their core products are perfect for my needs and one thing that I really value is that they have 24-hour customer service hotline (Mondays-Fridays). Some banks certainly offer this, too, but I know big banks that have 24-hour hotlines only for credit card queries/issue and not for general banking requirements. Moreover, some of the SBA branches are open even on Saturdays and the hotline is available from 8:00 am up to 5:00 pm on weekends.

One thing that I also noticed only recently is that unlike many if not all banks, all the critical departments’ email addresses are listed down in their website! With many people now relying on emails, this is again another mark of how deeply SBA understands the needs of clients.

5. Caring, considerate, and hospitable team - from the security guards to branch managers, they know how busy and tired many people are and so, their branches (at least those that I have already visited) have chairs and my branch even offers  free coffee! (Who can beat that?) This may be a small thing only but when one needs to wait or is simply having an extra busy day, a nice seat and a cup of hot coffee is like a salve from heaven!

No other bank has given me these excellent, professional, and caring services. In fact, this is the first time that I am writing a blog post for a bank!

Of course, SBA is not perfect and I won’t be so careless as to say that my experiences will be the same for everyone. However, what I can say with confidence is that Sterling Bank of Asia strives very hard to live up to its business credo and based on my experiences, it is not like any other bank that I have ever dealt with.

The heart-shaped logo of Sterling Bank of Asia is indeed a mark of its genuine warmth and keen customer focus.

Image credits: Sterling Bank of Asia

_____________

*The Central Bank’s financial inclusion survey in 2015 revealed that 86% of Filipino households do not maintain a deposit account.  While a little more than 4 out of 10 Filipinos do save, nearly 7 out of 10 keep their savings hidden away at home or in unsecured places. Two out of 10 Filipinos have never even saved a centavo in their life (BSP, 2015).

This is not a paid/sponsored post. I am not asking for donation to maintain this site but I hope you can consider planting trees on your birthdays! Namaste!

Contacts:

24-Hour Hotline: (+632) 721-600  [Mon-Fri; 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends and holidays]

Website: http://www.sterlingbankasia.com/

Let us contribute to the re-creation of our cities into more liveable  ones--let's bike or walk to work/school! [Image by JR Suarin]

Thanks, Pasig City for the protected bike lane in Julia Vargas!

This is my first post for 2018 so I want this to be about something that is close to one of my advocacies. :)

As many people close to me know, I promote biking as an alternative mode of transportation for urban areas like Metro Manila and that is why my graduate thesis is about it, particularly about sky (elevated) bike lanes. We are not yet “there” in terms of creating a truly world-class city for both drivers and bikers/walkers but every vision starts with small steps, right?

Therefore, it brought so much joys when I discovered that the previously unprotected/non-segregated bike lane in Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City is now protected (well, at least the CBD-bound side)!

Finally, protected bike lane at Julia Vargas in Pasig City [Image by JR Suarin]

Finally, protected bike lane at Julia Vargas in Pasig City [Image by JR Suarin]

While the barricades are not really permanent, this is already a good step, which will hopefully encourage more people to bike especially that Ortigas CBD’s traffic is getting worse each day. (Photos above and below were taken at around 5:30 pm so the traffic was heavier on the other side of the road, with more people driving out of the CBD.)

Let us contribute to the re-creation of our cities into more liveable ones--let's bike or walk to work/school! [Image by JR Suarin]

Let us contribute to the re-creation of our cities into more liveable ones–let’s bike or walk to work/school! [Image by JR Suarin]

The results of an online survey that I had done for my thesis showed that, indeed, many people are particularly concerned about their safety on the road when it comes to biking. (I will blog about the results of my study in one of my future posts.) Therefore, the creation of protected/segregated bike lanes addresses this safety issue.

One thing that the Pasig City government should address though is the perennial congestion in Julia Vargas. I reside in the area so I am very familiar with the horrendous traffic there almost everyday so that we usually simply walk  or take Ortigas Avenue instead if we need to go to the CBD. The provision of the barricades will really be good for bikers but may already be causing some frustration (or exasperation?) to many motorists especially that we also noticed that one lane is now or will be soon devoted to car-pooling (i.e., exclusive for vehicles with 4 or more passengers).

While the car-pooling policy has good intents and must be applauded, the LGU should revisit it because Julia Vargas is a narrow road to begin with. Previously, it was three-laned on each side but with the new policy, it becomes a two-lane road on each side (excluding the bike lane). Here is an image, which I lifted from Autodeal.com.ph.

Illustration for the new carpool policy along Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City  [Image by Rio Hondo; with thanks to Autodeal.com.ph also for the article.]

Illustration for the new carpool policy along Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City [Image by Rio Hondo; with thanks to Autodeal.com.ph also for the article.]

As you can imagine, a previously three-lane road now reduced to a two-lane one (with restrictions on the 2nd lane) will likely aggravate or is already aggravating the traffic situation in the area. (The non-apprehension phase of the policy began on 28 February.) There are also compounding issues since the policy will affect those who needed to turn right or left and are in the ‘wrong’ lane because of their occupancy. (Pasig City may want to “listen” to public sentiments through online forums such as those in Tsikot.com so as to come to the best proposition for the sake of public good.)

Nevertheless, one good thing with this policy is that it encourages people to really re-evaluate their decisions to bring their cars (especially if the trip is not very far) and if bringing a car is indeed essential, find alternative routes.

As to the bike lanes, my next question is on why the bike lane on other side of Julia Vargas is not protected/segregated. If safety-conscious bikers will now use their bikes to work to Ortigas CBD, then, how can they bike back to their homes (or cars that are parked somewhere) when the other bike lane still feels unsafe?

Speaking of drivers/motivators, a good business model that can be driven by this bike lane policy is the emergence of parking areas in the outer-vicinity of CBDs. For example, the city government together with the private sector can build parking areas–to be rented at affordable fees–near or in the Tiendesitas side so that drivers from outside Pasig City (and those who cannot really leave their cars at home) can simply park their cars there and then bike to work into the CBD.

However, such willingness to bike to work or at least park their cars somewhere outside the CBDs and continue the journey through biking will be encouraged if both policy and structural dimensions are resolved. Therefore, I continue to look forward to more action and innovation from our government (both local and national) and private sector so that, together, we can rebuild our cities into more liveable and healthier ones!

While we and our authorities continue to find ways toward this end, should not we enjoy this protected bike lane even with all its limitations?

Suffer in traffic or... simply bike or carpool? The choice is yours to make! [Image by JR Suarin]

Suffer in traffic or… simply bike or carpool? The choice is yours to make! [Image by JR Suarin]

Come on, bike with me along Julia Vargas! 

_______________________

This is not a paid blog. I do not request for donation to maintain this blog but I appeal for your kind love to our fellow earth-stewards and Mother Earth by planting a tree (or trees!) on your birthday/s! :) Namaste!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
The PDP tackles what could be a long-neglected value: pagmamalasakit. Let is shine again, in our hearts, beloved Filipinos!

At the heart of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is MALASAKIT

MALASAKIT. A beautiful Filipino word that, at first, seems so simple enough for translation to English.

However, the more I think about it, the more it becomes difficult to find the correct English word for it. Is it concern for others? Is it a combination of regard and compassion? Whatever the most appropriate translation might be, it may inspire us, Filipino citizens, that the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the blueprint for our future as a nation, upholds the value of PAGMAMALASAKIT.

The PDP tackles what could be a long-neglected value: pagmamalasakit. Let is shine again, in our hearts, beloved Filipinos!

The PDP tackles what could be a long-neglected value: pagmamalasakit. Let it shine again, in our hearts, beloved Filipinos! (Note: There is significant distortion in image quality so I enjoin you to download the PDP file from NEDA’s website. Believe me, it is a worthy and inspiring read!) [Image courtesy of NEDA, 2017]

For how long ago did we, as a nation, think about our country first more than and beyond our political affiliations and loyalty? If we truly love our country, couldn’t we, for once, stop bickering and complaining and just do something good for our society–one that desperately needs healing?

For the people have already spoken through the ballots and they had chosen a President to whom they entrusted their faith. Let him govern. Let him fulfil his mandate. Let the sanctity of the ballot prevail.

For whichever part of the political spectrum do we come from,  there is no escaping the fact that the President’s downfall will eventually be this country’s as well.

We do not have to agree with him all the time–an authentic democracy allows opposing discourses–but  we cannot also act as if our voice is the only true voice. Here lies the true essence of democracy. Democracy is not just about exercising our freedom to voice out our dissent. Democracy is, more than anything, the capacity to respect, celebrate, and uphold the COMMON GOOD.

 _____________

Democracy, more than anything, is about the capacity to respect, celebrate, and uphold the COMMON GOOD.

 ______________

Pagmamalasakit and the common good

Undermining and attempting to destroy the chances of our country to move forward is contrary to the common good. When one talks about human rights but forgets the rights of the victims of crime and drug menace, he fails to discern on the meaning of the common good.

The PDP 2017-2022 then takes off from the need to reflect on how can we, as Filipino citizens, create a society where there is true regard and concern (pagmamalasakit) for others. This is the essence of the common good–when we (both as individuals and society) reflect deeply on how will our speech, decision, and action impact on others.

The PDP 2017-2022 could be a unifying document and, hopefully, be a good reason for all of us to work together (despite our political differences). The Plan appeals to our sense of nationhood–an important value (as part of cultural asset) that allowed countries like Japan and South Korea to recover and embark on nation-building from the horrors and destruction of wars and calamities.

The Plan should be read by every Filipino completely but here are key take-aways from the Plan (directly lifted, NEDA, 2017):

1. The Plan aims to lay a stronger foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust society, and a globally-competitive economy toward realizing the vision by 2040.

2. The target is to reduce poverty incidence from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 14.0 percent by 2022. This is equivalent to lifting about 6 million people out of poverty.

3. Individuals and communities will also be made more resilient by reducing their exposure to risks, mitigating the impact of risks, and accelerating recovery when the risk materializes.

4. Innovation will be encouraged as the country sets its eyes on graduating to a knowledge economy in order to accelerate growth in the future.

5. The strategies to achieve the targets cited above are grouped under three pillars: Malasakit or enhancing the social fabric, Pagbabago or reducing inequality, and Patuloy na Pag-unlad or increasing growth potential.

6. On the kind of life they want for themselves, Filipinos want a life that is strongly- rooted, comfortable, and secure: matatag, maginhawa, at panatag.

7. The terms “strongly-rooted, comfortable, and secure” used to describe the life envisioned by Filipinos by 2040 reveal middle-class aspirations. They include home ownership, a steady source of income to support family and self, college education for the children, a motor vehicle, stable finances to cover daily needs and contingencies, savings for retirement, and time for vacation and travel.

8. To make the people’s aspirations a reality, government must use the various policy instruments in its arsenal to accomplish the following:

(a) investment in human capital so that Filipinos are equipped to learn and adapt to new technology and the changing pro le of society;

(b) investment in high-quality infrastructure to make the cost of moving people, goods, and services competitive;

(c) sound urban development that takes advantage of scale and agglomeration economies to make the cities more competitive and livable; and

(d) adequate and inclusive nance to enable households to build up savings and to provide capital for MSMEs and households considering the desire of many to run their own businesses.  (Source: PDP 2017-2022, NEDA; directly lifted.)

What are we willing to give?

Our country needs us now, more than ever. True pagmamalasakit entails giving up some parts of our selves, for some, even power that we used to hold. Let us not aggravate the mess nor contribute to the noise. In the quiet, there is true discernment.

More importantly, let us have faith in the good men and women of our government–that despite the lingering ills of corruption and deceit there are STILL many good public servants out there, those who are always  doing their best, ready to protect our institutions, constitution, and people – whoever the president may be. Kahit anupaman ang kulay ng pulitika natin–yellow, red, or blue–our veins carry one blood only. That of a Filipino.

Let pagmamalasakit reside fervently in our hearts again.

________________

This is not a paid blog. I do not request for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree/s on your birthday(s). Namaste!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
The Jose Rizal Monument – sharing the line of sight with Torre de Manila [Image taken by this author in September 2014. The Torre de Manila is now significantly taller than this.]

Cultural heritage: When tourism intersects with culture

Reflections on cultural heritage and sustainable tourism

[Note: This is a paper that I had submitted in ENRM 257 – Sustainable Tourism Development, through FIC Ivan Anthony Henares, in my Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management program.]

Cultural heritage – a link from the past, a bridge to the future

Who has not heard of Taj Mahal? It may be the only building in the world that is part of every wanderer’s and traveler’s bucket list.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India: Beyond words. [Image courtesy of pcwallart(dot)com]

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India: Beyond words. [Image courtesy of pcwallart(dot)com]

  “…one solitary tear would hang on the cheek of time in the form of this white and gleaming Taj Mahal”, as the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) has described it, perhaps soulfully with a tinge of sadness (as cited in Government of Uttar Pradesh, India, 2014, with adaptation).”

This author has not (yet) been to this heritage site but she is already in awe of what it represents. The Taj Mahal symbolizes a love that never dies, of the beauty of tenderness, of the universal need for union, and for faith in eternity. Who cannot help but wax philosophical in the sight (whether in the flesh or in the imagination) of this grand beauty?

The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO heritage site (inscribed in 1983), is a mausoleum mostly made of white marble. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to remember and in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (UNESCO, n.d.). The Taj Mahal is described as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage” (UNESCO, n.d.). No wonder, many carry the dream of visiting it and those who have done so have never stopped being enthralled by it.

A discussion on cultural heritage and sustainable tourism perhaps becomes richer by taking off from a place like Taj Mahal. It makes serious learners appreciate the concept of sustainable tourism from a place or point of view where they can truly experience and appreciate history.

“Cultural heritage” as a concept must first be revisited. UNESCO (2016) has succinctly explained the concept, delineating between tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

What is cultural heritage?

 Cultural heritage

Tangible cultural heritage

  • movable cultural heritage (paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts)
  • immovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, and so on)
  • underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities)

Intangible cultural heritage: oral traditions, performing arts, rituals

Natural heritage

  • natural sites with cultural aspects such as cultural landscapes, physical, biological or geological formations

Source: UNESCO, 2016.

Heritage sites and experiences are, therefore, important in preserving a society’s rich culture and history. However, except in monumental places like Taj Mahal, efforts to preserve the integrity of such sites and traditions are not always consistent and/or successful.

The Philippines, for example is among the countries that need to learn more from best practices all over the world. There are many examples worthy of discussion but those that come to mind almost immediately are the historical buildings and monuments that are being torn down without regard to their significance, neglected, or allowed to be ‘defaced’ such as in the case of Jose Rizal’s monument in Rizal Park—now sharing a part of the magnificent sightline with Torre de Manila, a 49-storey condominium project of DMCI Homes, one of the Philippines’ top developers.

When the soul is weak, the flesh forgets – lessons and strategies in sustainable tourism

Tourism—both domestic and international—is deemed as crucial in allowing peoples and cultures to interact. It is considered as “the foremost vehicles for cultural exchange, providing a personal experience…” (ICOMOS, 2002). Who has not grown richer and fuller because of the experience of traveling? Human history has evolved because of constant wonderment, traveling, and exploration. Some even choose to stay. The meaning of any ‘exchange’ differs for each person—but what is universal is the experience of inner joy and sense of discovery that such an ‘interaction’ offers. “Touring” always goes beyond the physical—sure, the colors and textures of sites and places always give something to the senses—but what is more powerful are the feelings that are evoked, those that touch one to his deepest core.

Cultural and natural heritage sites speak to the soul and that is why they require a deeply-seated commitment. Why did our society allow Torre de Manila to become the “national photo bomber”? Is it plain forgetfulness or a lack of love for our history? Is it about greed? The Filipinos need to think about it really deeply.

The Jose Rizal Monument – sharing the line of sight with Torre de Manila [Image taken by this author in September 2014. The Torre de Manila is now significantly taller than this.]

The Jose Rizal Monument – sharing the line of sight with Torre de Manila [Image taken by this author in September 2014. The Torre de Manila is now significantly taller than this.]

It is almost shameful, disgusting even. One can only grieve at what became of the great man’s well-deserved spot in Manila’s skyline. We couldn’t leave him alone; what’s worse, even, is that we needed to go to the Supreme Court to protect a part of our history and heritage.

What have we become as a nation?

This touches at the crux of the dilemma. How does a society protect its culture and heritage while succumbing to the demands of survival and commerce? How can tourism be developed and managed without sacrificing our heritage and history?

Sustainable tourism then forces us to think beyond the colors and feasts for the eyes and the fullness of our stomach—it tells us to reaffirm our connection to the past, reclaim what was lost, and protect what is still here as we also optimize and share the economic benefits more equitably. Proponents of sustainable tourism prescribe strategies that can be adapted in tourism development and management, particularly in the context of cultural and natural heritage sites. [See Lindberg et al. (1999) for the list of strategies.]

A quick review of these strategies and best practices will reveal that many or all of these strategies and principles had been violated in most Philippine heritage cases such as the one on Torre de Manila. Clearly, our society does not or fails to adhere to similar standards and values. For one, policies are unclear and even wantonly violated. [This paper is rather limited in its scope but readers are encouraged to read an article by Marquez and Garcia (2015). The link is under suggested readings.]

While best practices elsewhere cannot be automatically adapted in other locations, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the experiences of successful sites. The management and preservation of the Taj Mahal is worth mentioning here. The surrounding area of the monument (covering about 10,400 sq km) is clearly protected not just from obstruction and massive developments but also from pollution.

For example, the Supreme Court of India issued a policy (in December 1996) that banned the use of coal in industries within the Taj Trapezium Zone and mandated industries that use it to shift to natural gas or otherwise be relocated outside the zone (UNESCO, n.d.).

An air control monitoring station has been installed to allow managers to monitor air quality and prevent deterioration that can be caused by atmospheric pollutants (UNESCO, n.d.).

While such air quality measures may be unnecessary for historical monuments (which may be aesthetically ‘lesser’ in grandeur when compared with Taj Mahal) in other locations, the government and private sectors should still be guided by the same level of respect and importance that the people of India are giving their heritage sites, and ultimately, their history and common fiber as a nation. Perhaps inspired by the love of Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife, Mumtaz, there is even a stronger ‘love’ that binds them to the past, enabling their present and future action to be properly placed in the context of sustainable development.

Tourism that cares – valuing people and heritage, alleviating poverty

Sustainable tourism respects not just the physical manifestation of natural and cultural assets but also accords the highest regard for the development potential of people and their communities. It is not simply about giving jobs and employment but more about allowing socially-conscious and equitable exchange of payments and services and rich experiences between and among individuals, families, and communities.  When one visits a heritage site, he should not only think about deriving joys and fulfillment from the experience but also about leaving something valuable behind – whether it be in the form of payment, friendship, or genuine act of kindness and respect. On the other hand, the host should also embrace the experience not simply as another opportunity to earn but also as a chance to celebrate his heritage, history, and roots.

While there are ‘horror’ stories about tourism programs that turned sour (e.g., leading to neglect, losses, damage, and destruction of natural and heritage sites), there are also inspiring and beautiful stories of community development and empowerment. In fact, when planned for and managed well, cultural and natural heritage sites can help improve lives and alleviate poverty. [See World Tourism Organization (2006), for information on how sustainably-managed sites can contribute to poverty alleviation.]

These pathways and strategies have led to significant gains in specific communities all over the world. One of the cases taken up by the WTO (2006) study involved a community-supported project in Karsa District in Ethiopia. Called the Bishangari (“sweet water”) Lodge, it is located on the shore of Lake Langano in sub-Saharan Africa. The project has so far been benefiting the community through direct employment (96% of the staff are locally-hired), assistance to farmers (e.g., through provision of seeds and technical guidance in organic farming), piped water access to the community school, and gradual transfer of technology such as on the development of locally-designed and innovative stove that uses 60% less wood (WTO, 2006).

It is considered a pioneer in ecotourism in Ethiopia—leading the younger set of entrepreneurs toward more responsible tourism enterprises. It promotes an environmentally-friendly way of putting up a business, sparing no cost when it comes to incorporating sustainable energy and waste treatment plant (i.e., solar power and a bio-gas digester) in its over-all design. It is also inspiring because it did not receive any government grant, with owners relying on sound business principles and support from banks through loans. With about 39 local staff, it is estimated to be benefiting about 390 family members. It has also encouraged appreciation of the community’s local culture by forming a musical group that now regularly performs at the lodge (WTO, 2006).

It is also encouraging the community to supply   produce and crops for the consumption of   the   lodge. Meanwhile, local craft makers and artisans are being encouraged to produce handicrafts that could be sold at the lodge’s gift shop (WTO, 2006).

An important ‘credo’ that the owners carry with them as they manage the operations should inspire other entrepreneurs or project developers. They believe that “tourism should only be conducted when the environment, the culture and the nature are respected and preserved for future generations” (WTO, 2006).

Another similar project took place in Candirejo Village, near the Borobudur Temple in Central Java province in Indonesia. Being near a UNESCO-designated World heritage Site, (inscription in 1991) the assistance given to the community by a local NGO, United Nations Development Programme, and Japan International Cooperation Agency was instrumental in the community members’ stronger appreciation of the heritage site and their role as hosts. The project helped families to offer home-stay accommodation, rendered training activities, implemented handicraft-making activities, trained tour guides, assisted and formed catering enterprises, taught farmers in organic farming, and organized the provision of local transport services through andong (horse carts) and ojek (motor bikes) (WTO, 2006). Through the tourism cooperative, profits from the activities are shared and then used to organize and improve community activities such as those for the environment and cultural interaction (Silitonga, 2009).

Striking a balance, dealing with the negative social impacts

Dulnuan (2005) has written about the case of the people of Sagada, which used to be a quiet town in the Cordillera Administrative Region but is now slowly getting used to tourists and visitors. While there had been perceived negative impacts especially on the natural environment and the lives of the indigenous people, those who are engaged in tourism-related activities appreciate the generation of jobs and income that the industry has given them. Young people are directly benefited through rendering of services as tour guides. Local entrepreneurs are able to establish small inns and lodging houses, restaurants, handicraft stores, and transport services (Dulnuan, 2005). Arts and crafts have become sources of revenue as well because local weavers and artists now have the opportunity to produce and sell souvenir items such as friendship bracelets, hand-woven bags, and rattan baskets (Dulnuan, 2005). While the impact on food security and sustainability is not yet fully ascertained, some farmers have shifted from planting subsistence crops to market-oriented produce such as fruits and vegetables, which they now sell to lodging houses, inns, and restaurant (Dulnuan, 2005, with adaptation).

However, such positive outcomes come with a price. There had been accounts of perennial noise, vandalism and theft in the cave sites, crimes, and even drug use (Lapniten, 2016, and Dulnuan, 2005). The local residents had also begun complaining about low water supply particularly during tourism peak seasons. There had also been accounts of stalactites and stalagmites being chipped off by uncaring tourists and of significant amount of garbage (e.g., plastic and styrofoam containers, tin cans, etc.) being left behind. The local life and culture are also being affected with some important rituals being postponed, lessened, or unwittingly opened to guests (Dulnuan, 2005).

There had been gains but there is an over-all feeling of disenfranchisement with some expressing that the rewards are not really reaching the most marginalized. Understandably, only those who can afford to open businesses are the ones who profit significantly from the tourism boom. Project designers and implementers should, therefore, put the necessary mechanisms through which the benefits from tourism can really impact the lives of the people in the most positive way.

Therefore, it is important that communities and the government work hand-in-hand in putting these mechanisms in place. These recommendations may have already been expressed before or done in other locations but, nevertheless, they need to be revisited and implemented soon in the context of community-based engagement:

  • Review and amendment of existing laws and creation of new laws that will address the gaps in governance of heritage sites (e.g., ensuring that local ordinances carry the breathe and depth of national and international policies and declarations);
  • Reforming and enhancing education and values formation programs in both formal and informal settings, allowing us to deepen appreciation of our rich culture and heritage;
  • Creating and strengthening sustainable livelihood opportunities in communities where there are important heritage sites so that people are not unwittingly forced to choose between earning ‘quick bucks’ and the need to protect the integrity of our assets (when people are financially empowered, they are more motivated to act responsively);
  •  Enabling authentic public-private partnerships where profits and rewards are well placed in the pursuit of environmental and societal goals (environment and culture first before profits);
  •  Empowering communities to manage and benefit from tourism sites, practicing shared responsibility, decision-making, and enjoyment of rewards; and
  • Strictly enforcing code of conduct for, between, and among guests/visitors and hosts, deepening shared governance and mutual respect.

The future beckons – and the stories and love that are waiting to be shared

Pearce (1989) has highlighted an important factor when he said that “the social and cultural characteristics of a host community will influence its attractiveness to tourists, the process of development and the nature and extent of the impacts which occur” (as cited in Dulnuan, 2005).

As can be learned in the popularity of the Taj Mahal and places like Sagada and Borobudur Temple, tourists are naturally captivated by places that have deep cultural values. It is, therefore, necessary to respect, preserve, and protect the authenticity of our heritage sites not just because they will draw the tourists in but more importantly, they are our link to the past and bridge to the future.

As what our national hero, Jose Rizal, said “ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa makakarating sa paroroonan.”

References

Dulnuan, J. (2005). Perceived Tourism Impact on Indigenous Communities: A Case Study of Sagada in Mountain Province, Sustainable tourism – challenges for the Philippines. Retrieved from http://dirp4.pids.gov.ph/ris/books/pidsbk05-tourism.pdf

Government of Uttar Pradesh, India. (2014). Taj visitors – Visitors’ perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.tajmahal.gov.in/celebrities_visiting_taj_2.html

International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). (2002). Principles And Guidelines For Managing Tourism At Places Of Cultural And Heritage Significance. Retrieved from  http://www.charts-interreg4c.eu/app/download/5796628919/ICOMOS+International+Cultural+Tourism+Charter+1999.pdf

Lapniten, K. (2016, January 12). Sagada asks visitors to respect sites. Retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/travel/ph-travel/118788-sagada-visitors-respect-tourist-sites

Lindberg, K. & Molstad, A. Hawkins, & D. Jamieson, W. (1999). Sustainable Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A Review of Development Assistance and Its Potential to Promote Sustainability. Retrieved from http://files.cargocollective.com/491146/Sustainable-Tourism.pdf

Silitonga, S. (2009). Candi Rejo Village – Community Based Tourism Project in Central Java, retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?Candi-Rejo-Village—Community-Based-Tourism-Project-in-Central-Java&id=2043471

UNESCO. (n.d.). World Heritage List – Taj Mahal. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252

UNESCO b. (n.d.). Borobudur Temple Compounds. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592

UNESCO. (2016). What is meant by “cultural heritage”? Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/illicit-trafficking-of-cultural-property/unesco-database-of-national-cultural-heritage-laws/frequently-asked-questions/definition-of-the-cultural-heritage/

World Tourism Organization. (2006). Poverty alleviation through tourism – compilation of good practices. Retrieved from http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284409204

For a legal opinion on the Jose Rizal monument and Torre de Manila controversy, you may go to this link:

Marquez, B., and Garcia, A., (2015, February). A soaring eyesore: Torre de Manila’s construction threatens Rizal Park’s skyline. Retrieved from http://thepalladium.ph/legal/soaring-eyesore-torre-de-manilas-construction-threatens-rizal-parks-skyline/

____________

This is not paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

September tells us to build bridges and hold hands

Namaste, dear friends and readers!

It’s another month of hope and promises amid the challenges of our country (and the rest of the world). I ask you all to continue praying for peace and unity.

Take every chance to hold someone's hands. Build bridges! [Sketch in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin; inspired by a work found in the Pinterest account of Natasha Dilip. Please write to me if you think that this attribution is erroneous.]

Take every chance to hold someone’s hands. Build bridges! [Sketch in watercolor by M. Velas-Suarin; inspired by a work found in the Pinterest account of Natasha Dilip. Please write to me if you think that this attribution is erroneous.]

Last weekend, I had the time to sit down and make this quick watercolor sketch. I hope this will inspire you to make small gestures of friendships. Let’s hold hands, build bridges, and pray for one another!

May our September be full of joys and opportunities!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

____________

This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant a tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Tea time in August

Hello, dear friends and readers!

Here is my little sketch for August. This is not a new sketch but I think this is appropriate for the rainy month of August.  :) I actually gave a copy of this sketch for a dear friend of mine for her birthday so I hope she won’t mind that I am sharing it also with you all!

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee today! [Pen and ink sketch by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee today! [Pen and ink sketch by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

I hope that this sketch in ink will remind you to simply savor quick moments of tea time bonding with your loved ones. As I wrote on the sketch, “Every day brings special reasons for celebrations.”

Go ahead, celebrate your wonderful life!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

_____________

This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please plant a tree/s on your birthday.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove