Siargao master plan in the works

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 9 March) – A master plan by a renowned urban planner is in the pipeline to position Siargao Islands as a prime tourist destination and truly livable place for its communities.

The master plan will not just strike a balance among people, the environment and economy, but it will also seek to be the guide to aligning plans and projects of the private sector, national and local governments, said Karmi Palafox, senior urban planning consultant of Palafox Associates.

Palafox, in an interview with MindaNews Thursday evening, disclosed that their firm has recently secured the consultancy services for the Master Plan of Siargao Islands.

An electronic copy of the contract from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) indicates that the project was awarded last December 27, 2017.

Commissioned by TIEZA, Palafox Associates will aim to address the breakneck pace of development in the islands, which is increasingly putting a strain on their delicate ecosystem.

Architect Felino Palafox Jr., the firm’s founder, assured that the Siargao Master Plan would incorporate the best planning and development practices in the world and take a balance among the three essential factors – departing from the common approach which focuses more on the profit side.

Karmi Palafox said their planners would give utmost consideration to Siargao’s critical environment, given the importance of its rich natural resources to its people’s well-being.

A substantial consideration would also be given to the islands’ cultural and heritage sites, she noted.

As to the general description of the plan, Palafox revealed that it would give snapshots of the future for the stakeholders to plan around.

“We will consider the potentials and constraints of different areas in the nine towns in Siargao,” Palafox said. She added their team for the master plan includes, but not limited to, urban and environmental planners, architects, engineers, designers, socioeconomic and environmental specialists, financial and market research specialists, a waste management specialist, and infrastructure and traffic experts.

“We will be holding a series of consultations with the communities in March and April to know and understand what the people envision for the island’s future,” she said.

Last February 28, a meeting was held at Kapitolyo Nan Siargao in Dapa with representatives from TIEZA, Department of Tourism, Department Environment and Natural Resources, and Technical Working Groups representing the nine municipalities of Siargao and Bucas Grande group of islands.

Consultations from different communities are slated on March 12 at the Santa Monica Gymnasium in Santa Monica; March 13 at the Del Carmen Convention Center; March 14 at Kapitolyo Nan Siargao in Dapa town; and March 16 will be at Baile in General Luna town. The consultation will continue on March 18-19 in Socorro. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)