OF TREES AND FOREST
By MANNY VILLAR
City living has been radically transformed over the years. There was a time when Metro Manila consisted of just a few urban pockets and many areas of open spaces. You ask your elders what your area previously looked like and you would probably get this reply: “Ay naku, dati puro talahiban lang yang condo na yan.”
The primary driver of Metro Manila’s rapid urbanization is population. According to the projected population by the Commission on Population, NCR has 13,569,353 inhabitants as of January 13, 2019. This is based on the 2015 Census of Population of 12,877,253 and 1.58 population growth rate.
This makes Metro Manila the 8th largest city in the world in 2018 (City Mayors Foundation) and one of the most densely populated place to live in ranking fourth behind Dhaka, Mumbai, and Medellin (UN Habitat).
The Metro Manila urban center represents more than 50 percent of the urban population in the entire country. The projection of experts is that by 2050, NCR’s population would balloon to a staggering 45 million.
One consequence of such rapid urbanization and growth in population density is the prevalence of vertical structures. Condominiums have become the preferred choice among urban dwellers. Primarily because they are still cheaper than owning a house, condos are also preferred because they reflect the urban, lock-and-go lifestyle in the metropolis.
People are attracted to urban areas not just because of employment opportunities but the lifestyle it offers—convenience, shopping, restaurants, theater, arts, culture, among others. So while the city is becoming more dense, it is possible to make it more livable.
This was our vision when we introduced Condo Homes or CoHo Lifestyle. Condo Homes, which will be offered by Camella nationwide, offers urban dwellers with much more space beyond the condo unit as each development is poised to have a commercial complex that will house its own unique lifestyle amenities.
This is designed for the lifestyle of young urban professionals and those who are just about to start raising families. There is no point in simply being trapped in the four corners of your condo unit. Hindi dapat de-kahon ang kaisipan natin sa condo.
We envision city dwellers living just a few steps away from a luxurious Vista mall that offers global retail selections. It means having world-class cinemas as your home theater. It means having the Coffee Project as an extension of your living and working space. It means having an innovative, fun and fresh AllDay supermarket as your pantry.
The term CoHo, or co-housing was a phenomenon in the US in the 1990s characterized by cooperative living as an answer to a host of modern problems relating to housing, use of resources and social needs. Basically, it meant people living in one area and running their community as a collective marked by shared activities.
While we cannot exactly duplicate the CoHo living of that era, the principle remains: condo living should not box you in. Instead, it should allow you to explore social activities. Instead of shunning your neighbors while inside your unit, you can meet them in the supermarket or while watching movies. Your kids can have coffee with theirs.
With CoHo focusing on urban areas outside Metro Manila, we also hope to help spread development in the countryside. We should endeavor to create more urban areas outside NCR to ensure equitable development. And as other areas like Davao, Iloilo, CDO, Bacolod and others expand, let us help them make sure that urban living becomes livable.
As we strive for economic development, we need to face the problems that come with urbanization. We need to make sure that our city remains livable for our families. We need to make sure that while our material surroundings expand our life also improves.