A preconceived notion among province folk is that Metro Manila is a place of progress, where that very elusive pot of gold is sited and greener pasture abounds. But contrary to this notion or belief is the fact that Metro Manila, one of the 20 largest mega cities in the world is a place where the ghastly sign of deterioration is foreseen. The present-day Metro Manila is congested – people, vehicles, structures. Metro Manila is heavily populated. Before the year 2020, the population of expanding Metro Manila is expected to reach a whooping 20 million people. A Harvard study in 2002 states that Metro Manila has the highest population growth rate among the world’s megacities at 60 persons per hour compared to New Delhi’s 47 persons per hour. Huge volume of vehicles traverse the major thoroughfares causing heavy traffic making commuting a harrowing experience, roadsides and banks of murky rivers are replete with unsightly structures, informal settlers find their place in the metropolis, and there is imbalance between nature and architecture. We are confined to breathing adulterated air that is hazardous to our lungs and well-being. Our supposed access roads are no longer accessible; they are mere paved strips of lands.
It is high time to decongest Metro Manila. To be able to accomplish this is to create and open urban growth centers and corridors outside the metropolis. Not only will it solve problems of congestion but it also will prevent people from leaving their hometowns to look for that very elusive “greener pasture” which they thought is “sited” in cities like Metro Manila.
One approach of development is the agropolitan concept or agropolis. Agropolitan development could be an alternative to metropolitan development. This concept veers from other approaches where one sees the emergence of high-rise structures as the prime and obvious proof of progress as it banks on agriculture or farming.
Agropolitan development, which is essentially taken from the words agriculture – farm and polis – city, brings the city into the farm. This approach can be traced back in the Middle Ages and is practiced in Southern France and in many parts of Europe to this very day. Agropolis is a strategy of integrating farm or countryside and city yet sustaining the environment.
Other than sustaining the environment, it will promote and “cultivate” agricultural produce. Its development will eliminate or prevent the migration of people from the rural to the metropolis thus decongesting Metro Manila. Farmers and agriculturists will be encouraged to employ and perfect their craft. This development will nurture the environment yet heeds the call for progress without hurting nature. The opening of countryside for agropolitan development will not only decongest metropolis but also employ barren lands for productive use. This will open more opportunities for jobs, business, and tourism potentials.
The Philippines has great potentials for this type of development primarily because of its wide expanse of agricultural lands and natural resource endowment. Since everything is seen as mere ephemeral forms, the best way is to cultivate them to their optimum use while they last. God has wonderfully and perfectly created this world. It is saddening to note that with the continued lack of urban planning and obsolete practices in planning, zoning, deed restrictions, and urban development, man has “uglified” the urban environment. The air we breathe is adulterated with smoke from industrial plants and cars. Trees and other greens were cut down to give way to the construction of skyscrapers. We need at least 10 trees for every car to recover the oxygen out of the carbon monoxide in cars. With the continued cutting down of trees, what then can we hand down to our future generations but an environment that is not fit to live in. Can you endure the scene of seeing future generations die helplessly because of the irresponsible use of this world?