Bernardo M. Villegas
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Family-Friendly Practices in Urban Living (Part 2)

          The Ignite xChange forum organized by Andre Yap last March 10, 2018 at the Manila Polo Club broke up into 14 groups made up of professionals from the most diverse disciplines.  Each group came out with a shared mission that addressed the theme “Urban Dwelling in Mega Manila:  Reimagining the Future of Urban Dwelling and Home Sweet Home.”  For whatever it is worth to all those willing to contribute their share to making Philippine mega cities more humane and livable, let me summarize the fourteen shared missions.

         Shared Mission 1 is to “turn undeveloped properties into farms and resorts with a system of co-ownership.  The group viewed traffic and over-congestion as the by-products of urban migration—that is, too many people trying to build their lives in small, densely populated urban centers.  The solution proposed is to help and encourage people to move out to the fringes or rural areas, connecting the tools we already have as a solid backbone, to create the opportunities where they are.  This can be very well implemented in such regions as CALABARZON where urban centers are intermingled with still large rural space.  I see this in my own home province Batangas.  The same can be said about Central Luzon where the urbanizing Pampanga is neighboring such agricultural provinces as Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.

         Shared Mission 2 is   to arrive at an inclusive society through education.  The innovation proposed is a web app subscription network of libraries.  The group strongly believed that a love for reading is the key to better education.  They wanted to move people back from digital to analog, because “books have a soul.”  The web app they propose will have the capacity to register people, customize their preferences, and connect them to a wide network of libraries.  When people have access to books, they will have a propensity for learning, and literacy goes up.

         Shared Mission 3 targets an efficient distribution of electric power through “bayanihan micro grid.”  To address the problem of power deficit in some off-grid communities, the group proposes a two-pronged approach:  the creation of mini power plants, and tapping renewable energy sources, both at the community level.  Smart systems can even store the energy, or sell it to the National Grid.  This “local energy cooperative” can substantially decrease costs while increasing energy reliability.  There are already enterprises that are installing solar energy panels on rooftops of residential and office buildings.

         Shared Mission 4 wants to achieve education without borders through online test platform.  The group envisions the creation of job opportunities without having to leave the home.  They propose an online test platform that ranks skills and suggests career paths, based on a person’s personality and capabilities.  They propose to build an entire college system outside the traditional brick and mortar universities and even a possible shift to an apprentice system to get individuals work-ready.

         Shared Mission 5 purports to tap unmet manpower potentials by creating a community of service technicians through diagnostics and education.  This group observed that service technicians (e.g. plumbers, mechanics, electricians) represent an important yet still disorganized talent pool.  They envisioned a separate vocational training program that can develop skilled workers of a consistent standard who can become qualified home service workers.  Through this pool of talent, home owners can spend more time with their families and less time searching for well trained workers.

         Shared Mission 6 addressed the most important task of couples—whether urban or rural—of bringing up their children.  They conceived of “Edu Child”—a YouTube Channel for instilling values.  They observed that value erosion is a problem when parents spend less time at home because of career demands.  This group saw technology as a potential ally in instilling and reinforcing values among children.  Edu Child is a step-by-step tutorial on a platform that kids know well:  YouTube.  It will utilize scenarios to illustrate and teach values at home.

         Shared Mission 7 intends to keep the family intact though a trust-based remote working platform.  It was observed that long commutes and increasing traffic woes make remote working a tempting option.  Employers, however, eye this option warily because of the lack of check and balance in the arrangement.  The group conceived of a platform as a possible solution—one that is trust- and rewards-based.  The platform will be able to measure data in terms of productivity, rendering remote working a viable, cost-effective option for both the employer and the employee.

         Shared Mission 8 wants to enable independent living among the yuppies.  It was observed that because of rising costs of living, young people find it harder to leave their family home and attain some independence.  This group sees Smart Living Arrangements as a solution. This involves living spaces that are also working and learning spaces, equipped with a wide range of smart services.  The solution starts with the creation of a smart service aggregator, which uses the skills of every person and company in the space.  These skills can be offered to home owner associations as bundle of packages and services.  The ultimate intention is to get enough data to influence condominium design through a “smart” condo or community approach, which can benefit everyone through profit sharing.  (To be continued).