Emerging cities in the Philippines are on the rise despite economic challenge

In Photo: New Clark City

VARIABLES such as topography, climate, tax code, and cost of living —in addition to proximity to family and friends—all play roles in the emergence of cities and attractive places to live in.

The factors that make some parts of the country preferable to others as a place to live and raise a family vary from one person to the next. Still, some cities are demonstrably more attractive to new residents than others; thus the reason for population growth.

Population change is the product of two factors–net migration and natural growth. Natural growth is simply the number of births over a given period less the number of deaths. Net migration is the difference between the number of new residents—either from other parts of the country or from abroad—and the number of residents who have left the area.

As of 2017, there are 47 megacities in existence. Most of these urban agglomerations are in China and other countries of Asia. The largest are the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Shanghai, and Jakarta, each having over 30 million inhabitants. China alone has 15 megacities, and India has six. Other countries with megacities include the United States, Brazil and Pakistan, each with two.

In the 2018’s Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook (A.T. Kearney), seven new cities have been added to the Index and the Outlook: In the US, Seattle joins the rankings for the first time, and in China, six cities have emerged in the rankings (Changsha, Foshan, Ningbo, Tangshan, Wuxi, and Yantai). The list identifies the top emerging cities by measuring human capital, business activity, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement.

China’s key cities have experienced greater progress than cities in the other regions of the world during the 10 years of A.T. Kearney’s Global Cities research: business activity remains the dominant factor, but human capital and cultural experience are also significant drivers of growth. Established in 2008, A.T. Kearney’s Global Cities was one of the first to rank cities based on their global standing, and it remains highly regarded for its holistic assessment of city capabilities and potential.

Designed by top academics and business advisors, the analysis is based on facts and publicly available data. The report is developed annually, updating the underlying information and reviewing whether new cities meet the criteria for inclusion. Since its inception, the report added the Global Cities Outlook and it increases the number of cities it assesses nearly every year.

What makes an emerging city?

ACCORDING to experts, a city may be considered “emerging” if there is potential for job creation, a healthy workforce, and efficient land use; in addition to visionary leadership, political will, good planning, good design, and good governance. Gateway cities such as those with international airports and seaports also have an edge over others in terms of trade and tourism opportunities.

By these standards, the top emerging cities outside of Metro Manila are Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, Clark, San Fernando (Pampanga), Laoag, Vigan, Legazpi, Balanga, Batangas, Lucena, and Iloilo. Davao and Cebu have already far exceeded the pack and ae almost in the same cluster as Metro Manila.Not following the mistakes of Manila, the Davao and Cebu magalopoli should pursue better mobility through walkable and bikable streets with well-connected mass transport systems.

Over the years, there’s a lot of development potentials for Zamboanga City. Dubai, like Zamboanga is a port city. But unlike Dubai, Zamboanga is blessed with more natural resources. Zamboanga Peninsula plays a critical role in realizing the medium and long-term goals of Mindanao and BIMP-EAGA which is to become a major location in Asean for high-value-added agro-industry, natural resource-based manufacturing, and high-end tourism that will eventually shift towards ensuring socio-economic, physical development, and a southern gateway to and from the Philippines.

Laoag, on the other hand, is posing to be the international gateway between the Philippines and the wealthier countries of North East Asia. Currently, the Laoag International Airport has direct flights to and from Guangzhou, China. Learning from ‘instant’ cities of the world. These are cities that became First-World caliber in less than 15 years: San Francisco, Zurich, Singapore, and Hong Kong. These cities were able to transform from one resource to another. Zurich, for instance, was able to move

forward from chocolate and watch-making to becoming Europe’s leading international financial center. After the gold rush, San Francisco, on the other hand, shifted from a mining town into a financial, tourism, and technology hub. While Dubai transformed from an oil-dependent city to one that was driven by tourism, trade and commerce, real estate, health, and education.

“Our cities should be in a continuous state of improvement. We should not be complacent with just one source of revenue. For instance, real estate and business process outsourcing may be booming today. But what are we doing now to ensure that we will have other sources of income in the event that these two industries slow down? We should be able to improve our competitiveness in tourism, agriculture, finance, education, and health care, among others.” This is according to Architect Felino A. Palafox, Jr., in a report written in April 2017. “Growth is inevitable, growth is necessary. In setting the framework for the development of our cities, we must focus on practices that are environmentally sound, economically vital, and that encourages livable communities—in other words, smart growth and new urbanism. Some of the best practices elsewhere in the world can be appropriately applied to address the country’s urban issues and challenges to make Philippines more livable and globally competitive,” he concluded.

New Emerging Cities

THE ten “new emerging” cities in the Philippines are recognized for their potential to become next wave cities. These new are, in alphabetical order:Balanga City, Batangas City, Iriga City, Laoag City, Legazpi City, Puerto Princesa City, Roxas City, Tarlac City, Tuguegarao City, and Zamboanga City. Meanwhile, the country’s $14 billion ‘pollution-free’ city, the New Clark, is expected to be larger than Manhattan. In a 2016 survey, navigation company Waze ranked Manila as having the “worst traffic on Earth.” The city’s reliance on cars also exacerbates its growing air-pollution problem.As a possible solution to Manila’s smog and gridlock, on the works is an entirely new, more sustainable city called New Clark City.

The New Clark, about 75 miles outside Manila, calls for drones, driverless cars, technologies that will reduce buildings’ water and  energy usage, a giant sports complex, and plenty of green space. According to the development plan, the city will eventually stretch 36 square miles — a land area larger than Manhattan — and house up to 2 million people. Developers say the urban plan will prioritize environmental sustainability and climate resilience.

With a minimum elevation of 184 feet above sea level, the city will likely not see much flooding. To reduce carbon emissions, two-thirds of New Clark will be reserved for farmland, parks, and other green space.The buildings will incorporate technologies that reduce energy and water usage.Driverless cars, running on electric energy rather than CO2-emitting gas, will roam the streets.Additionally, the city will feature a giant sports stadium and an agro-industrial park. New Clark’s developers, BCDA Group and SurbanaJurong, see the first phase of the project finished by 2022 butthe goal is to keep developing as technologies advance.

The vision for New Clark certainly sounds utopian.But the ambitious plan faces several challenges, including persuading Manila residents to move there.

New infrastructure projects, meanwhile, could bridge the distance between Manila and New Clark City, Wong said. A brand new railway line is being built by the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development. The train would reduce the travel time between the two cities to one hour from the current two to three hours.

In late May, BCDA started the bidding process for companies to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain power and water systems in New Clark City. The project is mainly funded through public-private partnerships — and has been earmarked among the Build, Build, Build (BBB) projects of the current government.

The project is planned to be smart, sustainable and resilient to  disasters, according to SurbanaJurong CEO Heang Fine Wong. The new urban space would become a “twin city” to Manila. The Philippine government already announced it is committed to moving some offices to New Clark City, but the main goal plan is for foreign investors to set up operations there, according to Wong.

But technical hurdles would still need to be resolved said Wong. “You need that network of communication. And also a cyber security network needs to be put in place,” he said.

 

Image Credits: www.build.gov.ph

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