Posible: An Experiment on Community-led Innovation

What would happen if we localize DT/the innovation process and bring it to grassroots communities?

Last May 31, Limitless Lab, in partnership with Urbanismo PH conducted a prototype/first experiment of our community design thinking workshop called POSIBLE. The participants were community leaders and volunteers in Brgy. 105, Tondo, Manila.

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For the group, the mission for that day was simple – to get them to break out of their mental barriers, inspire creative confidence, let them know that they don’t need to wait for an NGO or a donor foreigner to come in to help them create change in their community.

Don’t get me wrong, studies show that people in slum areas are some of the most creative people in the world, primarily because they have to survive with really limited resources. But based on our observation, they are most of the times stuck with their usual sources of livelihood and usual way of doing things (e.g peeling garlic as their main source of livelihood).

We divided the participants into two design challenges: one for maintaining cleanliness and for livelihood.

We began with a few alterations to the process, with a Community Vision Boarding (Pagtanaw), and Stakeholder Mapping (Pagkakaisa). Then we went through the full design cycle from Empathy (Pakikipanayam), Define (Pag-Analisa), Ideation (Brainstorming/Paggawa ng mga Ideya), Prototyping (Pagbuo ng Modelo), and Testing (Presentation).

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After the ideas were presented, we gave them play money and asked them to vote for the ideas that they would like to invest (mamuhunan) in or support.

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I’m proud to present that ideas that came out of the session:

1: Segregation Truck with Party Music and Lights (complete with a jingle and all) – This one won first place. They came up with this idea to solve the problem of people in Tondo often ignoring/not minding much when the garbage truck is arriving to collect their trash. As Nastassja Quijano said, this makes the garbage truck arrival and collection of trash as a community event. Also a little similar to our Mamang Sorbeto who has music that announces its arrival and makes the kids go out to buy ice cream. 

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2. Basura Mo, Premyo Mo – gamifying throwing of trash. Winners can get prizes such as vegetables and food that will come from a community garden that they will build.

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3. Sustainable Street Food Cart – building standard but affordable food carts for halo-halo and fishball vendors in Tondo, using zero-waste materials (e.g coconut shells instead of plastic cups for halo halo). This is something similar to the jolijeep in Makati, but for streetfood. And no, they didn’t know about jolijeeps before.

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4. Indigenous Shopee – an online store for well-designed and high-quality home decor made out of trash like old cans and plastic wrappers.

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Thank you so much to our partners who helped make POSIBLE happen: UrbanisMO.ph Tulay Ng Kabataan Chevening Awards (FCO)

To our teammates for this initiative, thank you so much! We’re so lucky to be working with amazing people! Li Ya Nastassja Quijano Katrina Ang Jan Jacob Jansalin Geisha Shaina Lyn Sanchez Emman Llego Dante Salvador Jr Vincent Trautmann

This post was originally written by Joie Cruz of Limitless Lab, UrbanismoPH’s partner organization.


UrbanisMO Phase 1: Balik-Tanaw

Last Saturday we closed out the first chapter of UrbanisMO with a brief sensing workshop to review what we’ve organically achieved with this experiment, and where we might want to take it in the future.

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Despite this being something that we all do in our spare time, the initiative somehow spawned fourteen (14!) different activities across our multiple interests of inclusive mobility and transport, zero-waste management, peace and security, health and social welfare etc between February 2018 to June 2019. These things would not be possible though without the collaboration of partners as wide-ranging as Arkitektura, the Escolta community, the City Government of Pasig, the Provincial Government of Lanao del, Sur, Disgruntled Young Professionals (DYP), Effective Altruism Philippines, Likha Initiative, Young Focus Foundation, Limitless Labs, as well as the many individuals and community members who agreed to jam with us.

Schedule Event
February 2018 UrbanisMO Rockwell
April 2018 UrbanisMO Escolta
May 2018 UrbanisMO Podcast #1
August 2018 Makisawsaw: Condiment Making Workshop in Support of Nutriasia Strikers
September 2018 Ecobrick Workshops
December 2018 Food Security and the City (Podcast #2)
February 2019 UrbanisMO : Bike Any Means Necessary (Podcast #3)
March 2019 UrbanisMO: Health and Cities (Podcast #4)
March 2019 Lanao del Sur PDPFP Technical Workshop, Marawi City
March 2019 UrbanisMO X DYP X Sandata x Lente – Cities in the Time of the Drug War
March 2019 UrbanisMO X DYP – It’s Tubig A Problem
March 2019 UrbanisMO x Effective Altruism: How Do We Know If We’re Helping Effectively?
May 2019 UrbanisMO Zero Waste –  Sitio Anahaw (with Likha Initiative)
June 2019 UrbanisMO Zero Waste – Happyland Tondo (with Young Focus Foundation and Limitless Lab)

The next stage though demands a shift from these experimental, output-based prototypes into something ideally more outcome-directed and scale-able. Given how sparse the current urbanism-directed ecosystem is right now in the Philippines, there’s so much space for innovation, but so much more that needs to be done despite limited time, energy, and resources. 🙂

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. 🙂

The UrbanisMO Podcast: New Episodes!

After a busy summer for the whole crew, we finally have ten (10!) new episodes of The UrbanisMO podcast out on Facebook.com/urbanismoph.

Series 3: Bike Any Means Necessary covers the February UrbanisMO x Chevening Chat on bike commuting with our favorite two-wheeled pedestrians Rob Siy, Omi Castañar, Jillian Roque, and Aldrin Pelicano.  (Episodes 3/3)

Series 4: Healthcare in the City features mostly medical professionals and Chevening alumni Migs Dorotan, Mai Valera-Co and Julze Alejandre with Kathy Villegas and Clara Buenconsejo. This totals to 7 episodes of kwentuhan about what we can do about the measles outbreak, the importance of health promotion, mental health, improving access to health services, and the implications of the Universal Heath Care scheme. This was recorded on 11 March 2019 at the Nipa Brew Taproom, Makati.

We’re hoping to get the podcasts distributed on Anchor and Spotify soonest–hopefully that won’t take another quarter to get going. 🙂 Happy listening!



Bike Any Means Necessary

bikeanymeans-01 Tired of traffic? Sick of being stuck somewhere you’d rather not be? Feeling depressed watching government make no progress on transport, and even make it worse? It’s time to do something about it. Join UrbanisMO.ph’s panel of wheeled pedestrians to learn how to get to where you need to be. No motor vehicles required – join us and find out how to commute bike any means necessary.

Featuring our favorite commuters R A Siy Omi Castañar Jillian Roque and Aldrin Pelicano of mnl moves!

Jillian Roque is a development worker and activist. She has been involved in various social justice, human rights and environmental causes for over a decade. She promotes cycling as a sustainable mode of transport and has “biked the talk” since 2014. She does a lot of traveling for her work—both local and overseas—taking her bike wherever she goes. Jillian is passionate about pushing and redefining the limits of what she can do with her bicycle by going on solo, unsupported rides or joining long distance cycling events such as Audax. In her spare time, she enjoys reading comics, playing with her cats and dreaming of her next cycling adventure.

Omi Castanar is a person who likes to ride a bicycle everywhere he goes. He works on public financial management policies for the Philippine government. He’s been biking to work since 2013 and he has four titanium plates in both arms to show for it. When Omi is not on a bike, he likes spending his time playing board games.

Aldrin Pelicano is a father of two young children. He works full-time for an Australian infrastructure, environmental and social development company. He has academic training in political science, public administration and urban planning. Aldrin passed the local licensure examination for urban planners in 2015 and has worked with local government units update their land use and development plans. He is a folding bike enthusiast and daily bike commuter.

Rob Siy is an economist who specializes in the planning, delivery, and management of infrastructure projects, with a focus on public transit projects and policy.

From Shaw Boulevard MRT:
1. Exit Shangri-La through Mercury Drug Side
2. Walk down Lourdes towards Richmonde Hotel
3. Turn left at Pearl Drive

From Shaw Boulevard jeeps:
1. Get off at intersection of San Miguel Avenue
2. Walk towards Richmonde Hotel, turn right at Lourdes intersection
3. Turn left at Pearl Drive

For more information, visit

The UrbanisMO Podcast, Series 2

Dear fellow urban dwellers, here’s a little something to kickstart your work-year.

In this second UrbanisMO podcast series, economist JC Punongbayan, urban planner Jean Palma, and lawyer and urban planner Benedict Nisperos weigh in on the issue of food security in cities. Bakit mahal na ang bigas? Is expensive sili really silly? What has been done, what can we do, and how do we push for friendly neighborhood green urbanism in ways that fill the belly?

These talks were recorded on 1 December 2019 during the UrbanisMO x Chevening Chat on Food Security in the City at the UrbanisMO Community Space in Project 3, Quezon City.

Food Security and the City

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Our deep thanks to everyone who made it out to yesterday’s UrbanisMO x Chevening Chat on Food Security in the City: Grappling with Green Urbanism Through the Belly. Shoutouts to our awesome speakers economist JC Punongbayan, environmental planner Jean Palma, and lawyer-planner-local economic development specialist Benedict Nisperos, along with impromptu reactors Boni Javier of FAO and our dear chicken-plant-mum Drei Castillo of Good Food Community. We hope to release the podcasts soonest. Special thanks goes out to the British Embassy in Manila and the Chevening Alumni Association of the Philippines, who generously sponsored the food and conversation.

We’ll be doing two more UrbanisMO x Chevening Chats in the first quarter of 2019, starting with one in January on bike commuting and non-motorized transport. Watch this space. 🙂

The UrbanisMO Podcast S01

Seven urbanists walk into a bar and talk about participatory urban planning, resilience, and the joy that is DRRM in the Philippines.

Featuring community organizer Abbey Pangilinan, conflict and governance specialist Ica Fernandez, mapmaker David Garcia, public-private partnership expert James Nicolas Cruz, transport economist Robert Anthony Siy, medical doctor and disaster operations guy Miguel Dorotan, and heritage advocate Clara Buenconsejo.

All episodes recorded on 15 April 2018 at the Nipa Brew Craft Beer Taproom in Makati City. Thanks, Stephen and Mai!

The UrbanisMO Podcast Episode 1: Origins

Ano nga ba ang UrbanisMO sa Pilipinas? Participation, the realpolitik of public consultation, and the challenges of working with the urban poor, transport reform, and health service delivery.
Alphabet soup alert! The episode’s acronyms are: ISF (informal settlement families) and GIDA (geographically isolated and deprived areas).

[Running Time: 35:48]

The UrbanisMO Podcast Episode 2: Resilience

Is the Fiipino spirit truly waterproof? Why is it that after years of projects, we still see flooding and other kinds of disasters year in and year out? Why do people still go back to danger zones? If resilience is the answer, what is the question?

Alphabet soup alert! The episode’s acronyms and buzzwords are:

  • DRRM (disaster risk reduction management) and the underlying assumptions regarding hazard, vulnerability, and capacity
  • Disaster memes about smiling kids and waving flags in the flood
  • Resettlement and No Build Zones
  • #PrayForInsertPlaceHere
  • The Big One
  • nudge economics
  • forecast-based financing
  • disaster-proof infrastructure
  • learning from the past
  • archipelagic thinking
  • utak pulbura = utak semento

[Running time: 37:25]

The UrbanisMO Podcast Episode 3: The Right Way to Regulate TNVS?

Chismis about the Uber-Grab merger, Build Build Build, and LGU Transport Work Grab.

First, we talk TNVS. Regulating Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) – such as Grab, the recently-merged/departed Uber, and services such as Wunder Carpool – spark heated debates in all cities that use them. TNVS companies and their users point to the fact that they give more people the safety, security and convenience of private car travel. Critics point to the companies’ allegedly exploitative labor practices, and the growing evidence that they contribute to congestion, pollution and road crashes in the cities where they operate. Clara points out that while TNVS fill many gaps in the transport system, they don’t quite meet all needs. James ponders the impact of various regulatory approaches on driver and commuter welfare.

The debate is still very much open on the effects of TNVS, but the studies all seem to point in the same direction. Here (https://steps.ucdavis.edu/new-research-ride-hailing-impacts-travel-behavior/) is a comprehensive look at the effects of the TNVS in the United States that examines evidence from different cities. TNVS optimists: brace yourselves.
Next, the group tackles the Build Build Build Program. James and Clara both agree that the Build Build Build program builds welcome awareness of infrastructure, but transparency and clean deals are key to the program’s success. While there are plenty of projects that get infrastructure nerds excited, how do you get the public engaged in the work that is almost literally nation-building? Aside from big-ticket transport projects like trains and subways, why doesn’t Build Build Build contain projects like heritage preservation? Sidewalks? Even tree planting? Do we have enough non-concrete projects?

The Projects of the Build Build Build Program are enumerated on www.build.gov.ph.

Finally, what do people know about how LGUs affect transport? What can people actually ask their LGUs to do? As Clara recounts Manila’s bus scheme, sometimes the actions of one LGU affect many others. However, capacity and ability to execute projects is a challenge. James points out that Land Value Capture (http://blog.tstc.org/2013/08/19/land-value-capture-101-how-to-fund-infrastructure-with-increased-property-values/) is one method that can help LGUs fund their projects. As LGUs will be required to plan their own public transport through local public transport route plans, they’ll need to reach deep into their toolboxes to deliver the results people need.

[Running time: 46:20]