Land use dilemmas brought about by rapid urban growth present complex challenges in urban governance toward sustainable and inclusive cities. To this end, urban farming has been promoted as a way to improve food security, livelihoods, well-being, and ecological resilience in cities. Yet, it remains largely invisible in urban planning and policymaking on land use and urban development in the Philippines. This chapter takes the case of urban farming to illustrate how urban development, land use, sustainability, equity, and governance intersect in Metro Manila. In discussing current challenges in initiating, maintaining, and governing urban farming activities, it proposes ways to make urban decision-making regarding a fundamentally land use problem more inclusive and equitable. It argues for the need to incorporate urban farming into the sustainable urban development agenda to strengthen its place in urban governance, while emphasizing grassroots access and participation at various stages of decision-making.
In Manila proponents of smart urbanism offer solutions to daunting urban problems in the form of remote sensing, artificial intelligence, and digital mass communication. This article puts these proposals into theoretical and historical context and asks what it means to be a “smart city” amid a resurgence of authoritarianism in the Philippines and around the world. By putting the principles of science and technology studies in dialogue with those of critical urban geography, our analysis foregrounds the tensions between the generative potentials of “patuloy na pag-unlad” (continuous development) and the panoptic impulses of authoritarian capitalism.
As coastal communities across the Global South confront the multiple challenges of climate change, overfishing, poverty and other socio-environmental pressures, there is an increasing need to understand diverse coastal governance responses and livelihood trajectories from a comparative perspective. This paper presents a holistic investigation of the pressures coastal communities face in four countries and examines possible meeting points between bottom-up initiatives and top-down policies. We compare the experiences of eight fishing areas in Ghana, Tanzania, Thailand and the Philippines and ask how small-scale fishing communities perceive overfishing and other socio-environmental pressures; what factors determine the success and failure of coastal governance initiatives; and how different initiatives can be made congruent to improve coastal, rural development outcomes. Results from an extensive survey of 835 fisherfolk and semi-structured interviews with 196 key informants show that overfishing remains a significant driver of livelihood trajectories in the communities and that fisherfolk respond through informal mechanisms of collective action. Drawing from these diverse experiences, we propose viewing coastal livelihood trajectories through the integrated dimensions of socio-environmental relationships and coastal governance options and discuss implications that address institutional scalar flexibility, illegal fishing, and persistent marginalisation.
Infrastructure and the spatial practices that coalesce around them come to matter in multiple ways. Building on the legacy of splintering urbanism and subsequent appraisals, we explore the paradoxes of infrastructural spaces in a Global South city. In Manila, urban infrastructure plays a central role in enabling evictions in city spaces marked as “danger zones,” and in inhabiting “death zones” in the peripheries where evictees are resettled. This piece employs a relational view of the tensions between the dispossessive and sustaining work of infrastructure to extend the spatial metaphors of urban infrastructure and to illuminate political possibilities built around connections.
In this piece, I aim to extend the spaces and tensions of populist ecologies by examining their contemporary urban forms. In the Philippines, urban populist ecologies articulate a politics of discipline that mines discontent among urban residents and fuels antagonistic rhetoric against the undisciplined “others” who are often blamed for the city’s problems. Using the controversy over an artificial white sand beach in Manila, I explore how environmental conflicts, visions of urban futures and authoritarian nostalgia coalesce around strongman populist performances that reimagine the urban environment by appealing to people’s aspirations for resolving urban disorder.
Laguna Lake, the largest lake in the Philippines, supplies Manila's dense urban region with fish and water while operating as a sink for its stormflows and wastes. Transforming the lake to deliver these multiple urban ecological functions, however, has generated resource conflicts and contradictions that unfold unevenly across space.
In Urban Ecologies on the Edge, Kristian Karlo Saguin tracks the politics of resource flows and unpacks the narratives of Laguna Lake as Manila's resource frontier. Provisioning the city and keeping it safe from floods are both frontier-making processes that bring together contested socioecological imaginaries, practices, and relations. Combining fieldwork and historical accounts, Saguin demonstrates how people—powerful and marginalized—interact with the state and the environment to produce the unequal landscapes of urbanization at and beyond the city's edge.
This piece situates the challenges and opportunities for geography as a discipline amid the setting of Philippine higher education. By charting the discipline’s historical transformations and contemporary trajectories in the spheres of pedagogy, research, and service learning, it presents a particular picture of geography’s place and possible futures within a global South context. Despite its disciplinal marginality rooted in institutional constraints in the country’s higher education system, geography is at a crucial juncture in expanding its visibility and reach, and magnifying its relevance and transformative potentials in the Philippines.
The objective of this Forum is to complicate the usual depictions of Global South mega-urban regions. Neither the sure-fire means of realizing the aspirations of majority populations nor as a descent into chaos, the massiveness of Southern cities offers many different dimensions and implications.
In this article, we compare four fishing‐based areas in Thailand and the Philippines to examine if and how small‐scale fishing communities are able to escape marginalisation. Three questions guide our inquiry: (i) How have fishing communities been affected by overfishing, climate change and other pressures? (ii) What adaptive strategies have these communities employed to mitigate socio‐economic and environmental challenges? (iii) What has been the impact of these strategies on (escaping) marginalisation? Through a survey of 393 fishing‐based households and semi‐structured interviews with 59 key informants we find an uneven mixture of drivers, strategies and impacts. Respondents varyingly attribute declining fish catch to illegal fishing, overfishing, population increase, climate change and pollution. The case studies illustrate various degrees of adaptive successes that result from integration of top‐down and bottom‐up initiatives, and availability and access to livelihood strategies. However, the impact of adaptive strategies on overcoming marginalisation remains meagre and constrained by, among others, the power of illegal and commercial fishing and the absence of integrated spatial planning. We call for policy interventions and further research that takes into account the integration of top‐down and bottom‐up institutions, and the multiple dimensions and spaces of the drivers that shape fisherfolk marginalisation.
This paper introduces ‘beneficiary citizenship’ as a way to understand a form of urban citizenship that has emerged from shifts in state–citizen relations. Through the case of state-initiated urban community gardens in Metro Manila, it examines beneficiary citizenship as conditionally granting urban dwellers welfare, entitlements or recognition in the city in return for their transformation into good, responsible citizens. Beneficiary citizenship captures the dual forces of neoliberal technologies of government and alternative citizenship claims that are simultaneously present in various participatory and community-centred state projects. Case study gardens established in a resettlement housing project, in a poverty reduction programme and in a gated village in Metro Manila all seek to cultivate good citizen traits deemed worthy of being granted recognition in the city through a transformation of self and the community. Yet, beneficiaries in these projects also use their good gardener/citizen subjectivity to mobilise ends different from those intended by garden projects as technologies of government. Community gardens therefore become spaces where urban dwellers articulate citizenship by combining various strategies granted by their participation in the projects, exceeding attempts to order and contain urban life.
Urban metabolism refers to the socioecological exchange processes and transformations in cities. Different fields deploy the concept in various ways, rooted in nineteenth‐century work in biology and Marxist theory. Using urban metabolism as a metaphor, a research paradigm, or a methodological tool, studies have ranged from industrial ecological accounting of material energy flows in cities to a focus on the historical production of socionatures in urban political ecology. The multiple meanings and broad scope of metabolism have initiated debates on the usefulness of the concept but have also created spaces for interdisciplinary dialogues that integrate methods and approaches in understanding urban environmental change.
In this article, I examine the shifting political ecologies of governance of Laguna Lake, Philippines, in the context of historical and contemporary populist political rhetoric. Rodrigo Duterte, who was elected president in 2016 through a platform of change, brought national attention again to the lake by promising to give it back to the people marginalized by decades-long elite capture. This populist rhetoric is the latest in attempts to manage an urban resource frontier with conflicting demands and uses. By narrating a history of governance of Laguna Lake, I trace parallels between current and past strategies of addressing resource conflicts: from Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule in the 1970s and 1980s and the pluralist modes that followed to Duterte’s law-and-order vision of development. By comparing the populist narratives of Marcos and Duterte, I demonstrate that populist rhetoric in authoritarian forms entails the contradictory processes of politicization of the problem and depoliticization of solutions. Authoritarian populist narratives transform the framing of environmental problems through antagonistic politics even as solutions are constrained within existing depoliticized technologies of government that limit the spaces of contestations. Key Words: authoritarian, Duterte, Laguna Lake, Marcos, populism.
This chapter explores how urban political ecological approaches to nature-society relations can illuminate understandings of dynamic urbanization in Southeast Asia. It argues that environmental issues and challenges of the 21st-century city can be enriched through a serious engagement with urban political ecology themes, concepts and perspectives. The chapter provides a survey of the key themes and metaphors of urban political ecology and discusses two theoretical interventions where case studies of cities in Southeast Asia may provide empirical contributions. It provides empirical discussions of two moments in the urbanization of nature – everyday city-making and urban resource frontier production – to illustrate analytical merits of urban political ecological thinking using the Philippine case study of Metro Manila and nearby Laguna Lake. The chapter also explores urban political ecology approaches to examine the urbanization of nature in Metro Manila, a Southeast Asian megacity of more than 12 million people.
Urbanization has become a significant driver of aquaculture in the rapidly expanding cities of the global South. Using a case study of Laguna Lake and Metro Manila in the Philippines, this paper disaggregates the urban as a driver of aquaculture, and examines the social relations that structure urban-oriented aquaculture. It integrates access analysis with the value chain heuristic to identify how urbanization shapes domestic aquaculture value chains, and to map access mechanisms for firms and actors engaged in these chains. Macro-level urban processes drive aquaculture in at least four ways: as a source of demand for fish, as a source of input and capital flows, as a set of activities that transforms sites of aquaculture production, and as a sociocultural discourse. Micro-level mapping of access in the urban value chains shows a multitude of actors who derive benefits that range from direct participation in fish production and exchange to the indirect consumption benefits associated with lower-priced fish. Benefit and access mechanisms are unevenly distributed across the chain, and are configured and reinforced by social relations tied to place-based institutional contexts. Access analysis of urban value chains within the framework of urban drivers presents a means to evaluate the sustainability, poverty alleviation and development goals of aquaculture amid increasing urbanization.
Urban socioecological risk, like other urban metabolic processes, embodies relations between the city and the non-city. In this paper, I trace the production of urban risk within and beyond the city through the lens of the hazardscape using the case of Metro Manila and Laguna Lake in the Philippines. Building on recent interventions in urban political ecology that seek to map the terrains of extending urban frontiers, I examine the processes that construct city and non-city spaces in urbanization through flood control. I synthesize narratives of the material-discursive production of risk mediated by infrastructure with histories of landscape and livelihood change in an urban socioecological frontier to make two related arguments. First, discursive constructions of city and non-city and the material flows that connect them shape the production of urban ecological risk, with material consequences for non-city vulnerabilities. Second, infrastructure plays an important mediating role in the production of hazardscapes. The intersection of flows of water, discursive urban imaginaries in state plans, and livelihoods in Metro Manila and Laguna Lake exemplifies metabolic relations that reveal the spatio-temporal connections of cities with landscapes that make their functioning possible.
The rapid growth of Philippine cities has brought a host of problems and challenges, including sprawl, environmental degradation, unemployment, lack of adequate housing, increased vulnerability to hazards, and an overall decline in the quality of life of urban residents. As Mega Manila expands, its peri-urban fringes face the pressure of conversion to urban land uses, while core urban areas grapple with various urban issues on zoning and land use change. Given these issues, land use plans and policies serve as important sites of intervention in moving toward urban sustainability. Beyond issues of enforcement on the ground, this paper argues for the need to examine, evaluate, and refine the guiding framework for land use planning.
We propose three ways of approaching urban land use planning and policy based on a review of relevant documents and field research in two case study sites. First, we emphasize the need to broaden sustainability as a guiding framework for land use planning by emphasizing social equity and justice as a crucial component of sustainable development. Considering these may promote community interests that do not necessarily fit within an economic growth or ecological integrity imperative. Second, we advocate building on efforts to improve community participation in land use planning. Our field accounts suggest opportunities for further participation of communities in crafting land use plans and related projects. Third, we suggest including other spatial approaches and imaginaries practiced by local communities in everyday life. We identify the merits of a deeper engagement with communities and use the example of community mapping as a tool for planning land use. Increasing community participation and incorporating other planning methods will contribute to better realizing social equity in planning for just sustainability in cities.
Aquaculture, a modern scheme introduced by the Philippine state to improve fish production and livelihoods, has resulted in contradictory outcomes in its four-decade history in Laguna de Bay. This article examines the fate and trajectories of these modern schemes through the lens of hazards. It situates the place of typhoons and floods in the introduction and regulation of pen aquaculture technology, and in the practices of living with hazards among aquaculture producers in the lake. In both cases hazards are considered as intrinsic to their narratives rather than as external forces that occasionally disrupt human plans.
Aquaculture presents a radically different way of producing fish that aims to transcend the limitations of capture fisheries but that in turn creates new forms of agrarian and ecological transformations. Using the case of Laguna Lake, the paper probes how aquaculture production and corresponding agrarian transformations are inextricably tied to dynamics in capture fisheries in multiple ways. It emphasizes the fundamentally ecological nature of the relations between aquaculture and capture fisheries through a discussion of three interrelated features of agrarian change: commodity widening through the production of a commodity frontier, aquaculture producer strategies of working with materiality of biophysical nature, and the attendant consequences of these processes for agrarian configurations. By examining the appropriation of nature in commodity frontiers and situating relations between aquaculture and capture fisheries as historical-geographical moments in commodity widening and deepening, the paper highlights the centrality of nature in agrarian change.
This paper examines the complexities of producing fish for the city and substituting wild with farmed fish. Using the urban metabolism framework and commodity biographies approach, it takes the case of peri-urban aquaculture in Laguna Lake, Philippines and focuses on the metabolic transformations of bighead carp, an introduced lake fish primarily consumed in nearby Metro Manila. Increased lake production of cheap fish like bighead carp did not immediately result in greater urban consumption, which remained limited owing to consumer unfamiliarity and the material characteristics of the fish tied to its production in the lake. By following the fish, the paper tells the story of how bighead carp has been and is being made amenable for urban consumption in Metro Manila’s wet markets, kitchens and fish processing sites. It discusses the material practices associated with the transformation of fish in their displacement through the metaphors of distancing, entanglement, frictions and flows. It argues that particular relations between fish and the aquatic environment materially produce fish that is in turn metabolized in the city through everyday practices that reconstitute fish commodities. These practices show that despite the production of more cheap fish, the substitution of capture fisheries by aquaculture is a messy process that reflects metabolic contradictions that fish materially embody and that have material effects on fish production
Department of Geography 4/F Silangang Palma University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines email@example.com