Jul 26, 2011

Why We Should Stop Building More Condominiums

There's the constant demand for housing in Metro Manila because it's the concrete jungle where dreams are made of in this little island called the Philippines, so it isn't surprising that real estate moguls are taking the opportunity to build condominiums left and right. It's good for the economy that people are spending because money is being circulated, but I'm very much concerned about the environmental implications of building high rise buildings in just about every big vacant lot around the metro.

Can Metro Manila accommodate additional thousands or even millions of residents in the next five to ten years? Isn't the traffic in EDSA or C5 bad enough? Will the jobs be sufficient to cater to these additional "migrants"? There may be solutions to these problems like train railroad extensions or more investors from the BPO sector, but will there be enough supply of food and utilities to go around? I'm not solely pointing at supermarkets but rather to their suppliers. We keep putting so much stress on their production that god knows what they do to keep up with it. Hello cow farms over the tropical rain forest in Brazil? At least if the population has been evenly distributed, there'll be less concentrated demand for suppliers.

One of the things that we also forget to consider is the waste management in big cities. It has been a similar concern in New York and Hong Kong, much more in Metro Manila. Are these condominiums equipped with sufficient knowledge that would at least mitigate the high consumption effects (more waste) of their residents? High rise buildings are one of the causes why drainage installations are clogged. I also have issues with the materials they use to build condominiums - concrete, steel and glass - which produces a lot of carbon emissions when produced. But hey, at least there are "green" buildings build finished around the Fort.

I can't help but be critical on how marketing executives try to highlight the "underlying values" of these condominiums. Yes there might be some truth on "providing every Filipino family with better homes" or their inculturalization of independence with young adults (by getting a house of their own) but if you turn your focus on sustainability and on the immediate needs of the people, I think these would outweigh whatever brain washing their sales people did to your parents. If you are a millionaire and wants to spend your money on something that would balance profit and sustainability, consider investing in bamboo farms or houses made with natural materials like the ones of Illac Diaz. 

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