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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, July 11, 2021

entry arrow11:30 PM | A Smart City is an Informed City: Preliminary Thoughts

A 174-hectare reclamation project, dubbed “Smart City,” has been slated to be constructed along the Dumaguete shoreline. A signature campaign against the plan was slated today, July 11, at 3 PM in front of Bethel. It was planned in haste because the agreement between the LGU and the developer will be signed on Monday, July 12.

The document embedded below is the plea to stop the project, signed by National Scientist Angel Alcala, Silliman President Betty McCann, former Silliman President Ben Malayang III, Enrique Oracion, and biologists Hilconida Calumpong, Rene Abesamis, Janet Estacion, and Robert Guinoo.

For the full text, go here.

For information about the project, go here.

For commentary by lawyer Golda Benjamin to understand the legal nuances, go here.

To sign the Change.org petition, go here.

This is the Smart City plan that was released by the Office of the City Mayor to media last July 8, Thursday — which for me remains an under-reported story that only came out as pubmats in Facebook pages and short news articles in our weekend newspapers.

Did we seriously get the full picture, or kuryente lang? Part of me feels this story is a failure of communication from all concerned — and that we also need to dig deeper, question more, report more comprehensively. Above all, no haste. I feel the urge to do an investigative report, to be honest. [If I have time, I will.]

Dumaguete has an interesting history of public work projects affecting the local economy, going as far back as the Spanish colonial period: we were the ultimate backwater country and so economically depressed —

Until the pier was built in 1919.

And then Mayor Ramon Teves Pastor set out out to develop the beachfront into what we now know as the Rizal Boulevard. We need perspective, also informed by history.

Some well-meaning people, for example, are decrying the “loss” of the Rizal Boulevard because of the “Smart City” development. I totally agree — but I also cannot help but think that the entire Rizal Boulevard was also a public works project carried out by the then town that destroyed the natural beach front, concrete over sand.

Do we need more land and reclamation projects? Nope, we don’t.

(Honestly, there are better projects. Like developing the Banica riverside besides building concrete walls. [If Iloilo can do it with their river, so can we.] And what happened to the Perdices Street development plan circa 2016?)

I think just want perspective. We’re romanticizing a place — which I love! — which probably bedevilled Dumagueteños in the 1920s, and which most certainly dislodged the beachside community, only for richer people to build their “sugar houses” along the new Marina [old name of Rizal Avenue].

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