Credits to the CAN website, Ruel Orcajada, Gelli Nonato and Villa Libutaque for the info & photos.
“COMMUNITY ARCHITECTS NETWORK (CAN) is a regional network of community architects and planners, engineers, young professionals, lecturers and academic institutes in Asian countries. Established in 2010, the network has been supporting community-driven projects under the Asian Coalition for Community Action program (ACCA) regarding people housing, city-wide upgrading, and recovery from disasters. We believe the role of community architects is to build the capacity of people, by participatory design and planning process to make people be their own solution. “
This May 20-28, 2013, the 2nd CAN Regional Meeting and Workshop was hosted by the Philippines with a theme: “PEOPLE + CAN make change!” It aims to:
CAN believes in the power of a participatory process between technical and academic professionals, organizing and government bodies, and the people from the community themselves in achieving effective solutions in human settlements. It aims to provide a platform for all with whom it shares the same vision. Its approach in City-wide upgrading utilizes a “from-the-ground-up” approach, where the solutions are initiated by the community themselves, guided by professionals and fueled by the governing bodies.
The University of the Philippines – Task Force Arki (UP-TFA), served as the local secretariat to CAN for the event. For 27 years, UP-TFA has committed itself to the development of awareness and initiating active solutions regarding the urban poor, current housing situations and related social issues, both to the students and the public. This similar vision in utilizing one’s knowledge and skills in architecture paved the way for UP-TFA to be involved and eventually be part of the network.
The 9-day workshop started with an overview of the Philippine urban development and urban poor context. It discussed the state of development in the country, especially that of settlements in the highly urbanized areas of Manila. For a better perspective on the issue, all the delegates are provided the chance to visit three communities (all of which are related to issues of informal settlements of the urban poor
and the community-initiated efforts done by their respective associations and the initiated projects by the government and concerned organizations).
Delegates from all around the world, technical professionals, academicians, and organizational leaders, followed after with sharing of their projects in their respective countries. They showed the similar problems they experience in their home countries and the manner by which they mitigate these problems with community-driven solutions. Engagement of the people of the community is the common denominator of all their efforts. The outputs of which will prove how effective the solutions are if they come from the people who know their problem best. They were also able to show the role of professionals and academicians in this process as advisors and assistants to the people – the true essence of service.
With a gauge of the issues and their contexts, the current state of actions to these issues and the possibilities foreseen with the said efforts, panel discussions were done to deepen their understanding and generate ideas from different points of view. This also progresses to a macro-approach in the intercontinental issue of the urban poor, not only in terms of settlements but in living as a decent human
being of the society. The discussion topics are as follows: Direction of People’s Development & Sustainable Community Building, The Role of Community Artisans & Builders in Sustainable and Scalable Community Upgrading, New Education towards Designing with and for the Other 90%, The YP Spirit: The importance of Young Professionals and starting young, and Sustaining Work as a Community Architect: Experiences of Professional Community Architect Groups.
With the enrichment of the intellect and the spirit of the sharing and discussions, it is but proper to put
all the harnessed energy in the meetings into good use. The event follows through with a 4-day immersion in selected communities in Caloocan city, Valuenzuela city and Bocaue, Bulacan. This is where all the delegates apply their skills in working with the community while imparting to them their technical expertise. It is also a perfect avenue for first-timers to experience community work first-hand. Young professionals like the members of UP TFA, who share the same vision of architecture or any professional field but are not yet duly licensed, gained immense learning in this. They felt how active an organized community can really work together. They were able to show their purpose with the architecture that they only get to experience within the confines of the classroom. They were able to see how the profession of architecture is applied.
The active participation of everyone in the community immersion proved to be fruitful. Each aspect of society is well represented in the mix of the people involved, with everyone of varying background in culture, role in society and profession. The financial schemes developed for land acquisition and site development showed that the savings of the community will make it feasible. Designs in housing schemes in site development or upgrading have inspired hope in the people of the community. It proved to them how close they are to the dream community.
All these plans will not come into realization if not for a combined effort with the Local Government Units. This is the reason why an increased participation is aimed at the culminating activity of the workshop: Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Finding Ways Forward. This is where a formal discussion and a signing of a Memorandum of Agreement took place between the sectors of the LGUs, NGOs, technical professionals, academicians, and community leaders. Its goal is to continue the huge steps of progress that ignited from the meeting and workshop. A commitment was made by everyone and a city-wide approach is on its way to developing our urban areas into places for all – places everyone regardless of capability and status can call a home.
What could have been considered as the best part in this entire experience is that it has acknowledged the power that there is in every one of us. There is power in the community in initiating organization among them up to achieving possible solutions to their problems. There is power in our society to gather, impart our
knowledge, offer our skills and help one another. There is power in our leaders who selflessly live up to the trust bestowed to them by the citizens through proper service. There is power in volunteerism which is less of the “self” and more of the “us”. And most especially, there is power in the youth who should never consider a mere number of one’s existence as a determinant in what they can and cannot do.
It is true that people can make a change. WE CAN MAKE A CHANGE.
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