Urban Driving Force: The Case of Metro Iloilo-Guimaras, Phlippines

Outside of the dominant tri-region mass of urban population (Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog Region and Central Luzon), urban growth in the Philippines is experienced in the metropolitan regions centering on regional capitals. One of these urban clusters in the Visayas Region is Metro Iloilo-Guimaras (MIG). Metro Iloilo-Guimaras (MIG) is composed of the City of Iloilo, five municipalities in Iloilo Province and Guimaras Province located in the Western Visayas Region (Region VI) of the Philippines. While historically it had a thriving sugar industry, Iloilo had always been predominantly a trading and service center. Its economy kept in pace with the ebbs and tides of the economy of the two islands of Panay and Guimaras. As agricultural production rose, so did economic activity in Iloilo City. Iloilo province is one of the major agricultural production centers in the country. In recent years, the economy took on a metropolitan scale as economic activities spilled over the adjacent municipalities of Pavia, Leganes, Sta. Barbara, San Miguel and Oton. This particular growth is driven by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) money which is being ploughed into residential subdivisions in the suburbs of the City. A 1,000 hectare upscale subdivision was developed in San Miguel. Ayala Land, the country’s top real estate company, bought a sizable area in Pavia and other subdivision developments in Leganes, Pavia and Sta. Barbara total to hundreds of hectares of land. This housing boom drove the economy further as it spawned growth in the service, financing, commercial and construction sectors. New commercial developments such as hotels, restaurants and leisure places opened within the last three years. Across the globe, remittances are fuelling such processes as land speculation and urbanization. Belatedly, Iloilo City has gotten its share of the booming ICT business sweeping Metro Manila and other urban centres such as Cebu and Dumaguete. These firms recognized that as the educational center of Western Visayas, Iloilo can supply the needed skills for the IT industry. In fact, graduates from Iloilo fill up many of the ICT seats in ICT firms in Cebu, Dumaguete and Bacolod. To stimulate the development of MIG, the President of the Philippines created the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) through Executive Order No. 559 on August 28, 2006. It is composed of the heads of the participating local government units chaired by the mayor of Iloilo City. MIGEDC’s basic objective is to formulate, coordinate and monitor programs, projects and activities for the acceleration of the economic growth and developments of its member local government units, in support of the Mega-Region Economic Development Strategy of the National Government. Areas of collaboration within MIGEDC include basic services delivery, environmental management, public safety and security, land use planning and management, infrastructure development, and economic promotion and development. Lessons learned include the need for new thinking on urban policy and management, capacity building to respond to considerable demands for urban infrastructure and services (e.g., flooding, access and mobility, water supply, solid waste management, informal settlements), urban governance (inter-local government or inter-jurisdictional cooperation and 1 metropolitan organization to cope with metropolitan problems), and a focused and coherent metropolitan/ urban strategy.

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