Human Settlements and Urban Metabolism, Lecture Series #7


HUMAN SETTLEMENTS in the Philippines have started to evolve from a small cluster of households, during the Pre-Spanish Period, near the banks of the river, on the coastal area, or where the nearest source of water was located.

It was not only for ease and accessibility in terms of daily household activities but also important for the settlers’ agricultural activities. So, there were settlements around creeks, lakes, waterfalls and others. To those who were far from the rivers, creeks and other sources of water, they made use of the ground water source through wells and springs.

This is what happened in the Philippines several hundred years ago, specially along the areas of the islands of Negros and Panay in the central Visayas, where my ancestors lived.

Our history books revealed a settlement built near the river or “Ilog” in Pilipino. The people living around this settlement were called “Taga Ilog”. “Taga” means “living around or near” and “Ilog” means river. Those who settled in the coastal areas (“baybay” or sea) were called “Taga Baybay”. Those who settled in the upland or near the hills or mountains (“Bukid” or “Bundok”) were called “Taga Bukid” or “Taga Bundok”.

This happened before the Spanish colonizers came to the Philippines on March 16, 1521. That settlement became the earliest form of political unit in the country. It was called a “Barangay” or village. It was composed of 30 households and each village has a local leader called a “Datu” or Chieftain.

As Philippine society progressed, these small settlements became bigger. It was called a “municipio” or a town. The town gradually grew bigger and as more houses were built to accommodate more people living in the settlement, it was converted into a “ciudad” or city.

Each town was popular as the source of certain agricultural products in the island. For example, one village was known as the source of rice, another as the source of corn, or sweet mangoes, fresh vegetables, carrots, onions, garlic, pepper, sugar, and many more. So, as progressed was felt in the settlement, more people “migrate” or “immigrate”.

The Spanish rule continued and it embedded a strong Spanish influence on the islands’ urban planning and design, infrastructure, architecture, agricultural development, use of energy, and many others.

When America defeated Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States by virtue of the Treaty of Paris signed on December 10, 1898.

Spain, however, left behind a well planned communities. Some of these settlements are still existing to this day. But changes were on-going during the American Period which began technically speaking on December 10, 1898 and lasted on July 4, 1946 when the U.S. Congress granted the Philippines her independence.

Nothing much has changed during the few years of Japanese occupation of the country from 1941-1945.

THE PASSAGE OF REPUBLIC ACT (R.A.) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines provided a uniform guidelines in the country on the creation of settlements as town or city.

In 1991, the Congress of the Philippines passed a law – Republic Act No. 7160 enacting the Local Government Code of the Philippines. This Code also set the criteria on how a village or Barangay, town, city, provinces shall be created. A move that continued to change the face of Settlements.


1. A BARANGAY is composed of smaller units of settlement called locally as “Sitio” or “Purok”. A Barangay shall be created if it has a population of 2,000 to 5,000. Section 385 of the Local Government Code states the manner of creating the Barangay. A barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, by law or by an ordinance of the sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial board) or panlungsod (city council), subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC (Commission on Election) in the local government unit or units directly affected within such period of time as may be determined by the law or ordinance creating said barangay. In the case of the creation of barangays by the sangguniang panlalawigan, the recommendation of the sangguniang bayan concerned shall be necessary. (Source: RA 7160, The Local Government Code of the Philippines, 1991)

2. A TOWN is composed of several Barangay. For example in one Town, there can be 20 or more Barangays. Section 441. Manner of Creation. – A municipality may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered only by an Act of Congress and subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC in the local government unit or units directly affected. Except as may otherwise be provided in the said Act, the plebiscite shall be held within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its effectivity.

Section 442. Requisites for the Creation of the Municipality or Town

(a) A municipality may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the provincial treasurer, of at least Two million five hundred thousand pesos (P2,500,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on the 1991 constant prices; a population of at least twenty-five thousand (25,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office; and a contiguous territory of at least fifty (50) square kilometers as certified by the Lands Management Bureau: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population or income of the original municipality or municipalities at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created municipality shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the municipality proposed to be created is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.

(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund of the municipality concerned, exclusive of special funds, transfers and non-recurring income.

(d) Municipalities existing as of the date of the effectivity of this Code shall continue to exist and operate as such. Existing municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective set of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of this Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities. (Source: RA 7160)


Section 449. Manner of Creation.

A city may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, only by an Act of Congress, and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC in the local government unit or units directly affected. Except as may otherwise be provided in such Act. the plebiscite shall be held within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its effectivity.

Section 450. Requisites for the Creation of a City.

(a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least Twenty million (P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:

(i) a contiguous territory of at least one hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or

(ii) a population of not less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office:

Provided, That, the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the city proposed to be created is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.

(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of specific funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. (Source: RA 7160)Section 460. Manner of Creation. – A province may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, only by an Act of Congress and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC in the local government unit or units directly affected. The plebiscite shall be held within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of effectivity of said Act, unless otherwise provided therein.


Section 461. Requisites for Creation.

(a) A province may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices and either of the following requisites:

(i) a contiguous territory of at least two thousand (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or

(ii) a population of not less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office:

Provided, That, the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.

(b) The territory need not be contiguous if it comprise two (2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the income of the province.

(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, trust funds, transfers and non-recurring income. (Source: RA 7160)


The Local Government Code or R.A. 7160 became the bible of Local Government Units as far as creating a Barangay, town, or city. Human Settlements continued to grow as population increases. Its location, however, is no longer contained in the areas near water sources. From small urban centers, new growth centers emerge in the suburbs which may soon continue to expand in the next neighboring towns or cities.

So, a metropolitan center will also emerge. For example, the city of Bacolod, the capital of our province Negros Occidental. Bacolod is considered an urban center. Its growth radiated through the neighboring towns and cities. The local government officials agreed to create a metropolitan area to be composed of the cities of Bacolod, Talisay, Silay, Bago and the town of Murcia.

This was done to coordinate and strengthen its development efforts on infrastructure, landfill, peace and order, and to improve on its shared resources like water supply, among others.

Human Settlements, therefore, existed as an active organism. It can also be likened to a human body. It exists, needs food, energy, and all the other things that could make its existence meaningful, healthy and sprite.

Now, the video that I attached here is about Urban Metabolism but the focus is on Food which is one area in Urban Metabolism. Others are water, electricity or energy, garbage, fossil fuel or gasoline, construction materials like wood or lumber, bricks, cement, steel and so many others.

This lecture by Architect Anna Maria Orru was made available through youtube. Earthniversity would like to acknowledge Architect Orru and youtube for this post. Also to KTH, the one who uploaded this video. We hope that this site will be able to help our cities and communities through this video. The focus of this lecture is on FOOD – as one of the areas in Urban Metabolism. Others are: water supply, energy or electricity, garbage, transportation, land uses, and many others.


Once upon a time, about 2,300 years ago, Aristotle has already regarded urban society as a single organism functioning as a whole. He described cities as a “super organism”. He likens it to a complex living body with a variety of interacting organs similar to our human body. (Girardet, Herbert, Cities People Planet in a lecture delivered by Architect Anna Maria Orru, a youtube video is herein provided.)

So in relation to this, Girardet enumerated these interacting organs as the following:

1. Human Body is liken to an Urban Body (or shall I say, a settlement
2. Arteries/Veins – roads, railways, waterways
3. Stomach – Food Markets
4. Digestive Systems – garbage, dumps, sewage pipes
5. Brain – universities, libraries, schools
6. Nervous System – communication network
7. Lungs – parks and gardens
8. Immune System – Legislation, Police

In this case, a human body as in Urban Body, undergoes a process of metabolism which is defined as – “the sum of all biological, chemical and physical processes that occur within an organism or an ecosystem that enable it to exist, infinitely”. (Anna Maria Orru Lecture)

So, as the settlement which is now likened to a human body that undergoes metabolism, continues to exist, it consumes or uses goods and services. It produces garbage and wastes, use fuel, gasoline, food such as rice, corn, potato, wheat and many others. The settlement also uses construction materials like bricks, stones, cement, steel and many others. It uses water, electricity, telecommunication facilities and others. The settlement also gets sick or losses its sense of equilibrium and so it needs hospital, legislation and police, among others. The settlement uses road networks, bridges, waterways, boats, airplanes, etcetera and so on and so forth.

The question now is: are these things used or consumed by the Settlement or Urban Body, replaced? Most settlements do not produce the food, as one example, that it consumes. Food came from other sources outside of the settlement. If I live here in New Jersey, the rice that I cook came from Thailand, bananas came from Colombia, mangoes came from Mexico or Puerto Rico, and so many other consumer goods that came from outside of where I live.

Do I take part in planting the rice, fruits, vegetables etcetera? No, I don’t, but farmers there at the source do the planting and I guess they are planting more. Is there a need for me to lessen my food footprints? In my personal experience, I think there is a need for me to lessen my food footprints. Preparing food that is just enough for the day’s or week’s consumption and planting vegetables in my garden would also help refurbish those that I consumed.

We can also advocate that Green Design of buildings and homes can be practiced by incorporating vegetable garden or food production area in its construction. This has been done in other countries like Singapore.

Are the trees cut for housing purposes replaced with new ones, somewhere out there? Maybe, the countries that produces these have a “replacement” scheme so that new trees can be planted, mountains will not go bald and watershed areas will be protected. The latter is an accompanying input for continued water supply based on my personal experience in one project area -Managaksak – the watershed area of Metropolitan Bacolod comprising the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay, Silay and the town of Murcia, in Central Visayas, Philippines.

Is the settlement trying to lessen its consumption of fossil fuel or does it increased the level of its fossil fuel footprints? Maybe, we should. As I have said earlier, green design in buildings and homes can be adopted and make use of natural lighting and ventilation as the case maybe applicable in a specific country or settlement. Using solar energy is good because it is not affected so much by the four (4) seasons for as long as the sun shines, the house can be lighted and the appliances work. Using cars that are energy efficient and installing high quality pollution control gadgets can lessen the production of carbon dioxide.

Does the settlement produce more carbon dioxide and other pollutants to create more greenhouse gases that influence the changes in climate? The UN says that human activities is the main cause of climate change. That is why, there is a need for human settlements to modify its lifestyle.

The question of sustainability as far as the consumption of Settlements or Urban Body is concerned, needs our concern as members of this Settlement and Urban Body. It can boil down to a single idea, the idea of sustainable development. According to Brundtland Report in “Our Common Future” at Adams, Green Development, page 5, Sustainable Development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Along this line, replenishing what had been consumed or used by Settlements or Urban Body is a must so that the future generations can also meet their own needs. The responsibility lies in all stakeholders coming from the South and the North. It has been observed in the past that most producers are countries located in the south of planet earth and the consumers are located in the north of the planet. Both have the moral obligation to contribute its share in addressing the issue of sustainable development that, I think, begins with settlements.

Urban planning now shall be vibrant by injecting green ideas and self-sufficiency among its residents, so that sources of what the settlement needs may not be entirely coming from without but from within. The idea presented by Anna Maria Orru in her lecture about Food Footprints is worth revisiting. Check this out here in the attached video.

Indeed, human settlement is like a living organism that needs to survive. The things that it needs and used. however, should be replenished. For example, the trees and lumber that are used for housing construction. There must be tree planting at the source where trees were cut.

Now, if you have some ideas to contribute, please feel free to connect with us so that we can give you space here.

1. Thank you youtube for sharing the lectures on Urban Metabolism by Architect Anna Maria Orru
2. Thank you Architect Anna Maria Orru for sharing your lecture on youtube.
3. Thank you to KTH, the uploader of Architect Orru’s lecture.
4. Herbert Girardet, Cities People Planet, as mentioned by Anna Maria Orru.
6. The Local Government Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 7160 of 1991 by Wikipedia.
Photo by Henry Libo-on, coastal area of El Nido Township, Palawan, Philippines.

The Land Is Not Growing, Population Is. Lecture Series #6

By Henry Libo-on of Earthniversity.

Because of the notion that land is not growing but the population does, there is a need for an efficient and effective land resources management.  Developed countries have put to use the ideas of sustainable land management a long time ago.  Likewise, developing and third world countries are doing their share of using land with greater effectiveness and efficiency to answer their growing needs as their population increases.


The coastal area of Talofofo, in the vicinity of Jeff’s Pirate Cove, facing the vast Pacific Ocean, Eastern side of Guam, U.S.A. Photo by Henry C. Libo-on (Guam Island, My Home).

The land is the number one asset of any country, state, province, city or township. State must have greater control as to how the land is utilized. Control implies development control through zoning, land use planning and to a certain extent efficient and effective land resources management.  The land is an area of ground which, to a government’s point of view, is designated for certain purpose or Land Use.  The following are examples of Land Uses.

  • Agricultural land – is used for agricultural productivity like farming for rice, peanuts, oranges, pineapples, bananas, sugarcane, mangoes, durian, even its conversion to fishponds for milkfish, tilapia and prawn production and many others.


Rice Drying, Talisay City. Photo by Henry C. Libo-on, Lanzones Festival at Concepcion, Talisay City.


Sugarcane are loaded to trucks for delivery to the nearest sugar mill, Talisay, Philippines.
  •  Commercial land use – refers to land being used for commercial activities like malls, markets, offices, theaters, and many others


Business District, Park, Forest Reserve, Guam, U.S.A.
  • Institutional land use – means that the land is used by institutions like schools, hospitals, government’s office buildings – capitols, city or town halls, fire station, police station,  and others.


Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental and Capitol Lagoon Park. (All Photos in this blog, by Henry C. Libo-on)
  • Residential land use – refers to land uses for human settlements, subdivisions, housing, condominiums, and apartments among others.
  • Industrial land use – means that the land is used by industries like power plants, manufacturing, and processing of goods and products, recycling plant, and many others.
  • Recreational land use – refers to land used for various sports and recreational activities, playgrounds, and parks, among others.


Statue of Liberty at Liberty Park, Guam, U.S.A.


Open spaces are also identified by the LGU.  Here are the examples of open spaces as described by Wikipedia:

  • Open Spaces – refers to areas that are reserved for future use.  It also means that no such development sits on it for an indefinite period of time.
  • Landscape – areas of land without human-built structures
  • Open space reserve, areas of protected or conserved land on which development is indefinitely set aside.
  • Urban open space – urban areas of protected or conserved land on which development is also set aside.
  • Greenway landscape – a linear chain of open space reserve.
  • Public space – areas left open for the use of the public, such as a piazza, plaza, park, and courtyard.


Public Cemetery, Guam, U.S.A.
  • Protected Areas  – are managed by the state government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resource, in the Philippines setting.  Then, the DENR has its own bureau, the Environment, and Natural Resources’ Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau which is governed by NIPAS Act of 1992.  NIPAS is National Integrated Areas System.   As of 2012, there are 240 protected areas in the Philippines covering a total area of 35,700 square kilometers – 11.9% of the Philippines’ total land area.


(Photo shows the Sleeping Giant, a mountain located in the 22,202 hectares managed and protected area in the island province of Palawan.  Underneath this mountain is the St. Paul Subterranean River, popularly known as Puerto Princesa Underground River, the current 7 Wonders of Nature.    Photo by Henry C. Libo-on)

History of Philippine Legislation regarding the current national parks and protected areas.

  1. Philippine Commission Act No. 648 was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1903.  At this time, the Philippines is a territory of the United States.  This act authorized the Civil Governor to “reserve for public purposes, and from sale or settlement, any part of the public domain not appropriated by law for special public purposes.  (Source: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)
  2. These areas are the following:  La Carlota Reserve in Negros Occidental; Angat River Reserve in Bulacan, San Ramon Reserve in Zamboanga, Magalang Reserve in Pampanga, Hacienda San Antonio in Isabela, Mariquina Reserve in Rizal Province.  July 26, 1904.
  3. On November 21, 1910, Forest Act of 1904 (Act No. 1148) was expanded to include the mountain forest reserves of Mount Makiling.  (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

You might wonder how this happened?  On December 10, 1898, Spain, after its defeat in the Spanish-American War, ceded the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States by virtue of the Treaty of Paris.  The Philippines was, therefore, a Territory of the United States until the time when the U.S. Congress declared the Philippines its Commonwealth status but again, granted the Philippines’ independence on July 4, 1946.

Best Practice:   Australia’s National Reserve System   

NRS is Australia’s network of protected areas, conserving examples of natural landscapes and native plants and animals for future generations.  Based on a scientific framework, it is the nation’s natural safety net against our biggest environmental challenge.

Sustainable Land Management This refers to managing land without damaging ecological processes or reducing biological diversity.  It requires the maintenance of the following key components of the environment:

  1. Biodiversity:  the variety of species, populations, habitats, and ecosystem;
  2. Ecological Integrity:  the general health and resilience of natural life-support systems, including their ability to assimilate wastes and withstand stresses such as climate change and ozone depletion; and
  3. Natural Capital: the stock of productive soil, fresh water, forests, clean air, ocean, and other renewable resources that underpin the survival, health, and prosperity of human communities.

The land is often managed for multiple benefits, such as agricultural production, biodiversity conservation, water quality, soil health and supporting human life.  To ensure long-term sustainability, land managers need to consider economic, social and environmental factors. (Source:  Government Australia, Department of Environment Website)


1.  When I went to Australia in October 2000, that was about a month after the Sydney Olympics was held,  my classmates were telling me about this area at the Olympics Stadium or Olympic Park, that used to be a habitat of native frogs.  After a debate on what to do with this habitat, my classmates continued to tell me, the contractors had this habitat moved to another area.  That new area replicated the previous habitat of these frogs.  It was only then, that the construction of the Sydney Olympics Stadium or Park was totally completed.   I think this is what is implied in the previous topic entitled Sustainable Land Management.   This refers to “managing land without damaging ecological processes or reducing biological diversity”.  So, when classes ended at the University of Canberra, I went back to Manila.  At the Sydney International Airport or Kingsford Smith International Airport, I was surprised to see the huge sculpture of a frog in the vicinity of the coffee shop and pre-departure area.  That frog was a Bell Frog.  Its colors were hues of green and a little gold.  The story goes that when Captain Cook’s party arrived in Australia’s Botany Bay,  these frogs were the first animals they saw.  So, when I left Sydney, the Bell Frog was the last animal I saw before flying out of Australia.

2.  When I had my 5 days OJT at the City of Queanbeyan, NSW,  Australia, their urban planner accompanied me to the new housing development.  I asked him why a tree and other weeds or grasses were still on the ground.  He explained to me that this situation was being processed by the Department of the Environment because the tree might be an old tree and the weeds or grasses might be endemic only to Australia or endangered species.  They do not want to destroy these.  Wow, I was impressed at how they operate.  That is why, until today, Australia’s Best Practices ring a bell to me whenever I talk about the environment and sustainable development.

3.  Cemetery Land Use is often a forgotten kind of land use.  The choice of land to be used as a cemetery is very important because if the LGU will make a mistake, the cemetery might occupy a very strategic piece of land for future development or sooner or later, an expensive piece of land.   It is not a wise decision that in the future the dead will be competing with the living if a mistake was made in the past by locating the cemetery in the center of the high development area.  It is our culture to respect our departed loved ones, specifically where they are rested.  A choice of a cemetery must consider distance or accessibility, peace, and tranquility,  etc.  It could also be possible for LGUs who had a closed landfill, to use it as a cemetery and surround it with more trees and plants.  Other LGUs use it as a baseball field.

4.  Most cities who do not have a Land Use Plan have been encouraged by the Government of the Philippines to formulate their own  CLUP or Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  Under the auspices or assistance from foreign governments like Australia, some of these LGUs were able to complete their CLUPs.  If you are a local council official who knew that your town or city has a CLUP, you will be guided by this plan on how to make decisions on certain issues specially referring to urban planning, social sector (health and education included here), economic, infrastructure, tourism, housing, environment, sports and recreation, local administration, finance, local investment program, and zoning among others.  That is why, I encourage LGUs wherever you may be, to have this document done or revised.

5.  With almost all LGUs not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world, specifically those in the Developing  or Third World Countries have their own Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance in place, there is a greater probability that Land Resources can be managed efficiently and effectively and each LGU moving towards Sustainable Land Management.


Tourists at the city center of Philadelphia – one of the oldest and yet modern urban centers in the United States. (Photo by Henry Libo-on).

What is Land Use Planning?

In my hometown, Bacolod City, in the Philippines, the city government uses Land Use Planning to order and regulate the use of land in an effective and efficient manner.  This land use planning is also based on established city ordinance and national laws.  The City of Bacolod has formulated its Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 2000.  It has a lifespan of 10 years,  it must have been revised at this time.

Actually, the term I used is “order and regulate” based on the description from Wikipedia to which I also agree.  An Order is used when public safety and welfare is at stake or when environmental impacts are greater than its benefits.

Regulate is used to imply that certain land cannot be used other than what the law prescribed. For example, industries cannot be built in the residential area or near housing and settlements. In another instance, housing and settlements cannot be built in the periphery or within the forest parks, national parks, and other similar categories.  However, things could change upon careful planning, study and legal authorization from the state or the LGU.

Land Use Plan of the Local Government Unit (LGU) must be formulated after a series of activities such as Community Consultations, where all stakeholders are involved.  This is best done through a workshop that may be entitled:  Strategic Planning Workshop on the Formulation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  This is not a one-seating activity.  This StratPlan may be conducted 10 times.  For example, Bacolod City has 61 villages called “Barangay”.  So, in one StratPlan, six (6) villages will be involved with participants coming from all walks of life, so to speak.  Examples of participants are representatives from the academe, business, students, homeowners, builders, developers, community organizations, and many others.


Reclamation Area and Port, Bacolod City, Philippines.  Reclamation project started in the late 1960s. (Photo by Henry C. Libo-on at St. John Paul II Tower).

The input of this StratPlan will be written by a team of technical writers coming from the LGU.  In a way, they are making a Draft Land Use Plan based on the ideas taken from the community.  Once this draft is completed, another series of consultations will be held.  The team goes back to the 10 groups of the StratPlan and report to them what they have accomplished.  They will be asked to comment, add, minus, improve or whatever.  The team will do this until the whole 61 villages and their residents have been consulted on the draft land use plan.

Again, the technical writer will write or improve the Draft based on the second consultation.  After this is done, a final presentation to all these stakeholders will be conducted telling them that this is now the final document.  Approve? or Revise?  That remains to be seen, but mostly the stakeholders will approve the final draft.  It is their work after all.

The next activity in the series is the presentation of the final draft to the members of the Local Development Council.  In reality, some of them were already invited during the previous consultations and workshops, so they have some ideas.  After the presentation, the Local Development Council will pass a Resolution approving this Draft Land Use Plan for submission to the Local Chief Executive who will write a letter to the Local Council requesting them for their approval.

When the Local Chief Executive had submitted the draft to the Local Council, the Technical Team will request the Presiding Officer of the Council for a meeting or Presentation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  Meaning, before the Council Meeting or Session will be held to deliberate on the CLUP, all the Council Members have already some ideas on what this Land Use Plan contains.  The deliberations in the Council, therefore, becomes easy.

The Council in Session will pass a Resolution approving the Draft Land Use Plan.  The implementing arm of the CLUP is the Zoning Plan found in the CLUP.  This will be deliberated by the Local Council for approval.  Their approval will come in the form of a Local Ordinance on Zoning.  This time, the CLUP’s Zoning Plan is now a local law and can only be revised by another Ordinance.   That Ordinance orders and regulates the way lands will be used.

The Local Chief Executive will then sign the Resolution and later the Ordinance relative to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and its Zoning Plan.

For highly urbanized cities and provinces in the Philippines, Land Use Plan will be presented to the Regional Development Council and approved.  Then, it will be elevated to the national government agency – the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board or HLURB for approval.  For towns and cities, the presentation and approval are in the Provincial Government level only.


This is reclaimed land and was developed into a mega mall, the SM at Bacolod City, Philippines.

Bacolod City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan of 2000 was presented and unanimously approved by the Board Members of HLURB.  But of course, there was a presentation to HLURB staff before the presentation to the Board.  This way, problems that may exist in the preparation of the maps and other details can be given attention or corrected, improved, revised or whatever.  One of the activities that needed focus, patience and accuracy is the preparation of Maps like land use map, infrastructure maps – electricity, water, road networks, bridges, ports (airport and seaport), and many others.


Part of Central Business District, Bacolod City showing the Bacolod Central Market and other commercial buildings around it.

In the final analysis, the human population is increasing but the land area of the Earth does not unless there will be a tectonic movement or other scientific phenomena that will influence the increase in the Earth’s land area.  So, in the meantime that countries or Local Government Units around the world are faced with the demand for more lands to answer the needs of its local population, there is also a need for them to efficiently and effectively manage their land resources.  By using the best practices from other countries like Australia and many others, LGUs can create a doable comprehensive land use plan and therefore achieve a higher level of sustainable land management.


In my hometown, Bacolod City Philippines, there is a move to sell one of its prime lots located at the Reclamation Area. It now houses The Manokan Country, a place that houses several restaurants selling chicken barbecue.  Actually, the city government wants to sell or lease it to the highest bidder.  Perhaps, LGU (local government unit) like Bacolod should be reminded that the land is not growing.  For me, the best option here is a Lease Agreement not a sale.  With the Lease Agreement, the LGU can still generate revenue from taxes but selling the land means that the city will lose it forever.  I hope, the city government must revisit its Land Resource Management Plan or its Comprehensive Land Use Plan to check if selling the land fits its CLUP.  But, I still vouch for Lease Agreement.

Furthermore, some prime lots located in the CBD of Bacolod City which is owned by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental were recently occupied by 888 Mall, Puregold Supermart and Mall, the Ayala Land Development, SEDA Hotel, and a few others.

This writer had no access at this time to double check with the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental if these pieces of real estate were sold to the developers or were leased for a certain period of years.

Most property owners in Cebu, for example, the Ouanos, leased their lot to Gaisano Country Mall in Mandaue for a certain period of years but they never sold the lot to Gaisano Country Mall.  This writer’s fear is when the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental sold those pieces of land to the developers.  If that will be the case, the people of Negros Occidental say goodbye, forever, to those prime lots.  This writer wishes it is the other way around – that is, Lease Contract only.  (Earthniversity will exhaust all efforts to get the facts about this situation in the Province of Negros Occidental and will update this blog soon.)

If you wish to add some of your ideas, please feel free to include them.  This article is part of the Earthniversity’s Lecture Series online for our friends, followers, and readers.


  1. Asian Drama by Gunnar Myrdal, Vol. I, II, III.
  2. The government of Australia, Department of Environment Website
  3. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

All photos by Henry C. Libo-on

Updated on December 22, 2018.