COVID-19 THROUGH THE CRACKS: Helping the vulnerable and invisible during the pandemic

Mga kapitbahay, the latest set of The UrbanisMO Podcast episodes are out on all platforms. This time, we focus on marginalized sectors and far-flung regions that are as vulnerable to the deadly outbreak but don’t seem to get as much attention as NCR and other urban hotspots. Forgotten Filipinos are at risk of falling through the cracks.

To help ensure that the country’s coronavirus response becomes inclusive and more sensitive to the plight of the marginalized, UrbanisMO.PH, Young Public Servants and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism led a series of podcast conversations focusing on sectors that are perceptibly absent in mainstream discussions about the Covid-19 response: senior citizens, persons with disabilities, farmers and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and conflict-affected communities outside Metro Manila. And we’ve got an amazing lineup of speakers, interviewed by our favourite historian Aaron Mallari.

Episode 1: The Covid-19 response: Are the elderly and disabled being left behind?

Emily Beridico from the Coalition of Services for the Elderly, Dr. Maureen Mata of AKAP Pinoy (Alyansa ng may Kapansanang Pinoy) and Dr. Grace Cruz of the UP Population Institute weigh in on the issue of inclusion in the time of Covid-19.

Episode 2: Lockdown learning: Making education accessible despite the pandemic.

Dr. Grace Zozobrado-Hahn, a physician and Steiner-Waldorf Education practitioner based in Palawan, says children face their own set of challenges during the pandemic, while Regina Sibal, former principal of Miriam College Grade School and Far Eastern University Senior High School, outlines measures that the government and the education sector need to take to ensure continued access to education. Elsa Magtibay, a school administrator at Xavier School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, points to opportunities to improve educational delivery.

Episode 3: Covid-19 in the Bangsamoro (Part 1 of 2)

Bangsamoro ministers Atty Naguib Sinarimbo and MP Atty Laisa Masuhud Alamia discuss how the pandemic response has become one of the region’s biggest challenges to date, as it transitions to a parliamentary government that is autonomous, but somewhat still reliant on the national government. Prof. Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, an expert on governance and inclusion, weighs in on how the pandemic and the Bangsamoro government’s ability to deal with it is crucial to the peace process.

Episode 4: Covid-19 in the Bangsamoro (Part 2 of 2)

Bangsamoro parliament member Zia Alonto Adiong and Ma’am Azrifah Mamutuk of the Lanao del Sur provincial government discuss the aftermath of the Marawi siege more than three years and a pandemic later, while NGO leader Fatima Pir Allian calls attention to the plight of displaced Bangsamoro people outside the region.

Episode 5: Lifeline needed: Small businesses struggle amid lockdowns.

Charlene Tan and Mabi David of Good Food Community talk about the effects of the pandemic on farmers and local food systems, and local government responses to address these challenges, while Meann Ignacio speaks from her experiences in a cooperative that helps urban communities continue to earn a living. Ronn Astillas of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce discuss how LGBT companies are coping with the new normal of doing business.

These episodes are available on The UrbanisMO Podcast channel on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, PocketCasts, RadioPublic, Spotify and Stitcher.




Google Podcasts: 



Spotify: Stitcher:

This five-episode podcast was produced by UrbanisMO.PH and Young Public Servants with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) and PCIJ.

Hat-tip to editor Carl Sayat and everyone who helped put this series together!

The UrbanisMO Podcast Series 3: #COVID19PH AND THE CITY

Hello po, mga ka-quarantine! Something for your weekend listening pleasure!

As the Philippines faces the threat posed by the Covid-19 Global Pandemic, we feature three conversations covering different aspects of this challenge.

Episode 1 covers the implications of COVID-19 to the Philippine public health system with physicians and public health experts Dr. Miguel Dorotan and Dr. Lei Alfonso.

Episode 2 looks at the economic repercussions of COVID-19 with economist JC Punongbayan and geographer Mylene Hazel De Guzman.

Episode 3 listens to the experiences of communities on the ground with community leader Jai Catacio

Discussions were recorded via Zoom and Viber on 23 March 2020, while NCR and the whole of Luzon was a week into the enhanced community quarantine.

This podcast is brought to you by and Young Public Servants, with support from the British Embassy Manila and the Chevening Alumni Fund.

Thank you to historian Aaron Mallari for hosting these episodes!

URBANISMO PODCAST SERIES 3: Ang Pilipinas sa harap ng Pandaigdigang Pandemyang Covid-19

Habang nagpapatuloy ang pagharap ng Pilipinas sa hamong dala ng Pandaigdigang Pandemiyang Covid-19, layong himayin sa mga podcast na ito ang ilang aspekto ng krisis. Nakatuon ang tatlong podcast sa pagtalakay sa kalusugang pampublico at sistemang pangkalusugan kasama and mga doktor na sina Miguel Dorotan at Lei Alfonso; epektong pang-ekonomiya at ugnayang panlipunan kasama ang ekonomistang si JC Punongbayan at geographer na si Mylene Hazel De Guzman; at ang danas ng mga komunidad kasama ang lider ng isang samahan na si Jai Catacio. Kaalinsabay ng punyagi sa paghahanap ng makabuluhang pamamaraan sa pagharap sa multi-dimensyonal na krisis, hangad naming na palawakin ang talakayan at pakinggang ang iba-ibang tinig tungo sa mas malalim na kaunawaan sa mahirap na sitwasyon.

Naganap ang mga talakayan na ito noong 23 Marso 2020, lagpas isang linggo na mula nang maipatupad ang enhanced community quarantine sa buong NCR at Luzon.


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

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!



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 ( 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

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 ( 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]