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

UrbanisMO Food Security Poster.JPG

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 ( 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]

A Call for Hands! Placemaking in Quezon City

We’re building a home, and we’d love to have you as a part of the family to get the ball rolling!

The Talisay Community Space, now simply called UrbanisMO, was born out of a sketch  for dreaming and scheming in the kitchen of friends. We originally visualized a whole home in Quezon City complete with spaces to meet and learn; a kitchen to organize soup kitchens and start a healthy carinderia; a garage to do bike workshops and repairs; an edible garden; and even a shower for anyone who would need it.

Since then we have opted to be more realistic and established our first home in a two-bedroom apartment tucked away in an alley full of loving neighbors. It’s a big-enough space to sustain all the heart work we’ve planned to do.

Our first call for interest—through an online questionnaire–showed us that most of what we originally dreamed of doing was the same thing many people also need in Metro Manila. A garden to grow, a teaching kitchen to be healthy, a garage to let our creativity with wood or metal soar, and most especially a space to meet and share our own skills to people who want to learn.


We’ve started this month with murals led by AG Saño and other artists, as well as an exploratory welding workshop to build ourselves a meeting table. We’re now looking for more people who would like to happily DIY this space with us before we officially open the space up. Ultimately, what we’re dreaming of is a space for conversations and opportunities for communities to share their skills and learn from each other.

Our target opening date would be mid-May 2018 but before then, we’ll have to:

1. DIY our sockets and smart lighting with Kuya Luis and Eugene, our volunteer Electrical Engineer and Green Architect
2. Weld tables, stools, and shelf brackets with Kuya Kayong and Eric
3. Paint up a storm with the help of Ivy, our volunteer Interior Designer
4. DIY Kitchen exhaust construction with Olan, our volunteer Electronic Engineer
5. Build garden beds and chicken coops because why not?

The UrbanisMO community space is at 4 Talisay Alley, Barangay Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City. It’s an easy 10-minute walk from Katipunan LRT or a Project 2-3 jeep ride from EDSA, Quiapo, or Quezon Ave. Our little alley cannot be found in Google Maps but the easiest way to get there is to look for that nub of a street near the Sampaloc Heritage Tree.


If you feel you would like to learn things such as wiring your own home for lights and electricity, constructing furniture, starting a garden, welding, and general DIY give us a holler by sending us a DM via Instagram @urbanismoph or Facebook. See you soon!

UrbanisMO: Escolta!

A lot of things are simmering away in the UrbanisMO kitchen and we can’t wait to serve them up piping hot in the coming weeks, as soon as they get ready.

Join us this Saturday, April 28, at the second UrbanisMO forum–this time, at the historic Escolta district in Manila. Usaping informality, gentrification, transportation, at heritage urbanism sa Maynila, atbp kasama nina Marco Antonio Luisito Villanueva Sardillo III, Chester Arcilla, James Nicolas Cruz, Patricia Mariano, at Via Ramos. Usual UrbanisMO suspects Abbey Pangilinan, Ica Fernandez, Miguel Dorotan, and Rob Siy will be around to co-facilitate and stir up the usual happy trouble. Hosted by Clara Buenconsejo and the amazing folks at The HUB: Make Lab!

UrbanisMO Escolta Poster

A few reminders for Saturday:

1. We have limited seats available. To be exact, we can only offer a maximum of 30 seats plus a free-seating banig area. Please arrive on time to make sure you get a seat.

2. Please bring your own water bottle. While we’ll make water (and ice!) available at the venue, we won’t be providing disposable cups to minimize waste.

3. Google Maps link:
Fred’s is in the same building as The HUB.

Commuting instructions (dahil mas madali po mag commute pa-Escolta kesa mag Grab):

Via LRT-1:
Get down at Carriedo Station and walk towards BPI. (You can see it from the station.)
BPI is at the corner of Escolta, turn towards Escolta and walk across the short bridge.
First United Building is at the corner of the short bridge, the building with EastWest Bank.

Via LRT-2 + Jeep:
Get down at LRT-2 Recto Station.
From the station, walk to the corner of Avenida and Recto (approximately one block away).
Ride a jeep to Sta. Cruz Church. Get down at BPI, then turn right to Escolta.
Walk across the short bridge to First United Building (building with EastWest Bank at the corner).

Via Jeep:
Any jeep that passes by Sta. Cruz Church will pass by Escolta.

See you there!


UrbanisMO at Artkitektura: FILMS AND CITIES

UrbanisMO is part of a larger event organized by Artkitektura, the British Council, and the British Embassy entitled FILMS AND CITIES, featuring the Philippine premiere of A STORY OF DREAMS, a film about Curitiba mayor and urban planner Jaime Lerner. Talks will also be given by filmmaker Tia Kansara and architecture pioneer Rod Hackney.
Since all Eventbrite free passes for UrbanisMO sold out within the first day (thanks, guys!), day passes to FILMS AND CITIES are available through Ticketworld.
You can buy online any time between now and on the day of the event.
There are two ticket options:
– All Access Pass (regular) P400 plus minimal Ticketworld fees – available online and over-the-counter at any Ticketworld outlet
– All Access Pass (student) P150 plus minimal Ticketworld fees – available over-the-counter only, must present valid student ID
Tickets will also be available on site at Ateneo Law Theatre on the morning of February 24.
See you next week!

UrbanisMO: Ano ang plano mo?

Update on 13 Feb 2018, 10pm : Signup for free tickets to UrbanisMO through Eventbrite is now closed. 195 slots gone in less than 10 hours!

However, fear not. UrbanisMO is only part of a larger event organized by Artkitektura, the British Council, and the British Embassy entitled FILMS AND CITIES, featuring the Philippine premiere of A STORY OF DREAMS, a film about Curitiba mayor and urban planner Jaime Lerner. Talks will also be given by filmmaker Tia Kansara and Architecture pioneer Rod Hackney.
These will be held from 10:00-12nn at the Ateneo Law Theatre in Rockwell, Makati, followed by the UrbanisMO forum from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.
A day ticket (PHP 400 for regular admission, PHP 150 for students) will allow you to watch the movie, listen to talks, and join UrbanisMO.
For more information, please go to

Comrades, please sign up for UrbanisMO through this Eventbrite link. It’s absolutely free kaya paunahan itech. 🙂  See you all next week!


Reading between the lines on traffic member R.A. Siy writes the Passenger column for VISOR, an online magazine about transport, motoring, technology,  and culture. Here is a snippet from his recent piece about the history of traffic engineering:

Back in 2013, the Copenhagenize Design Company posted an image that, I feel, speaks a lot to how we got into the traffic hell we’re in. I’ve been using it in my presentations for a while, but since some friends recently asked me to explain it to them, this piece is dedicated to this picture:

“So, what do the lines mean, Rob?”

Each of the lines symbolizes the shapes taken by different modes of travel throughout history. For a long time, we designed cities so that pedestrians, cyclists and transit could get to where they were going in a straight line, or a small number of straight lines. This makes mathematical sense: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and so when people want to travel, they travel in straight lines (hold on to that thought because it’s key to understanding the rest of the graphic). To understand this type of planning a little bit better, pay attention to the design of old Manila, or districts that are of similar age or older in other cities. It has small blocks laid out in a fine-grained grid of streets, so that pedestrians can easily find their way around by walking in just two straight lines.

What changed? Read the full story on