Colleges and universities in the Philippines will not go back any more to the “old normal” of face-to-face classes. According to Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairman Prospero de Vera, the national government agency that oversees tertiary schools recently adopted a policy to further pursue the implementation of flexible learning in school year 2021-2022 and beyond.
Not only would a return to full-packed traditional classrooms expose millions of educational stakeholders to the same risks when another pandemic occurs; the CHEd will also be wasting its investments in technology, teacher training, and retrofitting of facilities that have been accomplished during the COVID-19 era. Since March 2020, in-person classes have been banned as a precaution against the coronavirus’ spread.
“The more prepared universities will continue investing and moving ahead using online platforms. Others will be allowing some of their students to come back at specific periods and do more synchronous versus asynchronous learning. Both students and faculty members are able to adjust to flexible learning better now than before,” de Vera said.
In determining how to grade students, there will be a transition from the old exam-based system that depended on knowledge creation, to the new task-based systems focusing on projects and group work where textbooks will no longer be the sole source of knowledge.
CHEd is urging all academic institutions to vaccinate their frontline workers against COVID-19. Some of their campuses are being used either as quarantine facilities or vaccination sites. During a recent meeting between CHEd and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, 17 higher education institutions nationwide offered their school properties as inoculation centers to be manned by local government units.
On a recent road trip that took me across multiple boundaries of Cavite and Batangas provinces, I saw a novel residential development along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. It turned out to be the Batulao project of Phirst Park Homes Inc. (PPHI), a joint venture between Philippine Stock Exchange-listed Century Properties Group and Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp.
Since its launch in 2018, PPHI has developed seven communities with more than 9,000 housing units in Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions. These are located in the emerging urban areas of Tanza, Cavite; Lipa City, Batangas; San Pablo City, Laguna; Pandi, Bulacan; Calamba City, Laguna; Nasugbu, Batangas; and Magalang, Pampanga.
This year, PPHI is set to launch four more projects in Luzon that collectively will have almost 7,000 units with a sales value of P14.3 billion. This expansion is on the back of a resilient affordable housing market last year despite the pandemic. “Throughout 2020, we saw an uptick in sales from local and OFW buyers who are looking for safe, secure, and well-located homes for their families,” said PPHI vice president Loren Sales.
Having captured the first-home market in the regions adjoining Metro Manila through its master-planned communities, the new projects of Phirst Park Homes will give more options north and south of NCR to neophyte homebuyers. Sales disclosed: “The new normal has indeed shifted people’s sending priorities to essentials, such as livable homes in thriving communities that are situated in key growth centers.”
J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly FINEX Digest magazine and the monthly FINEX Focus newsletter. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin.