Sunday, November 9, 2014

Townships: Cities within Cities

Living in Metro Manila and other metro cities in the Philippines, with poor transport system and horrendous traffic, can make the average commuter go through hours of just being on the road. And commuters do not just mean employees who sometimes have to commute from one end of Manila to another. It also includes students whose places of residence are often far from their schools.

In the United States, decades ago, I already appreciated the concept of suburbs. They were self-contained communities that included small businesses, entertainment places, restaurants, schools and even churches and hospitals. But suburbs were located outside the city proper. Employees who lived in the suburbs still commuted to the business district (of course, their transport systems were often very good so there was no great inconvenience).

In recent years, we have seen the concept of suburbs taken to a higher level in the form of urban townships. And this time, the townships are located within city proper.

Concept of Township

A township revolves around several key components: Live, Work, Play, Learn, Eat (and should I add, Pray?). Designed by master urban planners, townships' vision usually revolve around self-contained living and working environments where residents would not have to go far. This concept has been supported also by the mushrooming growth of IT-BPOs which locate within such townships. In addition, accreditation by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) of such cyberparks make the business of townships not just good business but convenient for residents.

One of the earliest townships I have seen is Eastwood City which is roughly 18.5 hectares. Located in Libis, it continues to evolve and expand as new buildings and shopping areas sprout.

Eastwood City Vicinity Map (taken from Eastwood City website)

In its beginnings, sometime in the early 2000s, I remember Citywalk (the part of the vicinity map above showing red roofed buildings) as comprising most of Eastwood City. It was the place where restaurants were found right beside each other with lots of inner walkways away from cars and traffic. The high-rise buildings there were mostly BPOs. Citibank was also one of the first high-rise corporate buildings in that area.

Walking around Citywalk was reminiscent of some places I loved abroad -- quaint haunts where people could just walk around cobbled streets, surrounded by restaurants and trees that provided shade. It was a family place. The mall nearby provided the shopping convenience of a one-stop place.

Then as years went by, other high-rise condominiums began sprouting around. They became mixed-use condos -- fancy restaurants, shops and convenience stores on the ground floor and upscale residences or offices on the upper floors. A new, more modern Eastwood mall was built on the other side of the road. The plaza facing the mall features fountains, bridges and lots of seating places where people (and their pets, too, because Eastwood City is pet friendly) can hang out and socialize. This is one place where I can go into a mall and not be surprised to see dog breeds of all sorts walking alongside their humans.

Living in a township is the best of all worlds -- for professionals who work in companies located within the township area; young married couples who are raising kids and want to have enough family time rather than fighting traffic commuting from home to work and back; and are even ideal places for retired folks who want everything they need within walking distance. When most everything you need is self-contained in a township, life really does get so much easier and more relaxed. Work no longer becomes such a burden because the stress of the commute is eliminated. Play and Eat become so much more pleasant when one starts out already in a relaxed mood.

Eastwood City high-rise units (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Up to this date, Eastwood City is not yet totally developed, which is good urban planning. I like slow development. It gives residents and workers time to get used to the changing landscape as people and vehicle traffic implications are studied, tweaked and improved.

That reminds me. It's nearing Christmas and I just love Christmas in the air! I should find some time to pay a visit again to Eastwood City and other townships in the metro and see what the Christmas atmosphere is like there now.

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