Live to tell-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
PEOPLE would always have a lot of stories to tell when they come from a vacation abroad. These stories become more colorful when they are from rich and developed cities like say Singapore or Hong Kong. Animating travel tales with a tinge of frustration perhaps? Frustrating, in the sense that such qualities are nowhere to be seen in our own cities here.
Developed cities have their own colorful history. Apart from a sturdy leadership and well-laid-out master plans done by experts, cities have also developed through social activism. There was a time some years ago when American cities were shaped through the help of enlightened public opinion. Best-selling authors, like Jane Jacobs, influenced government leaders to tread on the proper way of developing urban infrastructure and image through books and other pieces of literature.
Lantawan, the official publication of the University of San Carlos College of Architecture and Fine Arts (USC Cafa), came up with its 2013 issue incorporating the theme “Livable Cebu.” This annual magazine, which is on its fifth year of publication, is composed of more than 150 colorful pages containing written works by renowned architects, artists, students and personalities in the private sectors like the Movement for Livable Cebu.
“As an academic institution, USC Cafa feels obliged to put into the cause all the professional knowledge and experience that it has accumulated in teaching architecture,” writes Bro. Bela Lanyi, Lantawan’s editor-in-chief.
With a solid professional background and in-depth knowledge of the authors, the articles are aimed at casting a clearer light on the urban issues in Cebu and presenting some admirable contributions (through art and architecture) to the livability aspect of the city. This shows that even with the insurmountable nature of the city’s problem, like traffic and visual chaos, there is always a more long-term and user-friendly solution (not just the band-aid types).
Filipino businessman and philanthropist Jaime Zobel de Ayala pointed out in his piece that most of the top cities in the world in terms of livability, like Vancouver in Canada, were very particular with their “choice of investment” for their citizen’s well-being.
He wrote that the city “provided investments for public and non-motorized transport as well as pedestrian facilities consistently over the past 30 years.” In another article, Cebuano architect Alexius Medalla underscores the need for public trust in the local designers as well as the local designers’ need for confidence that they can be at par or even excel more than their more established
Manila-based or foreign counterparts to contribute to livability in the city.
This year’s Lantawan magazine is an interesting story book. It traces Cebu’s urban tales back to centuries ago, a fitting reminder that taking care of heritage is another approach towards a sustainable future.
Then it goes through the contemporary examples of buildings, artworks and planning strategies in the local context that gives readers a glimpse of hope for their own cities to attain the same status as their most admired foreign cities.
Lantawan hopes to inspire the powers that be and the various groups in the community that they can have their own version of a livable city that will have a local and truly international appeal.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2013.