24 November 2006

UBC gig went very well

YESTERDAY was our big day. Vice Mayor Gabby Bordado and I made the pitch to Dr. Leonora "Nora" Angeles's students at the University of British Columbia -- plus others who attended our lecture, about half of them in fact -- to visit Naga in summer next year for a proposed one-month studio course on participatory governance.

Nora is an associate professor at the UBC School for Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and Center for Research in Women's Studies and Gender Relations. She is putting together the Naga City Planning Studio Course that will bring UBC graduate students to the city. A grant from the university paid for my travel to Vancouver. To underscore the city government's commitment to the project, Mayor Robredo sent Vice Mayor Gabby along; together, we explained why going to Naga will be more than worth their while.

It is going to be a two-way learning process, Nora explained to prospective student visitors. We are also eyeing to pair them with counterparts from Ateneo de Naga to enrich the process. My presentation emphasized why Naga is an exciting place to be, insofar as participative governance is concerned. At the same time, Gabby explained that the city government will greatly benefit from the multidisciplinary expertise that the students will bring -- in such areas as urban agriculture, community economic development, gender issues and urban design where local staff are relatively weak -- so much so that it is subdizing half of their accommodation cost.

With a minimum of 5, Nora said the studio course will push through, with 15 as the upper limit. "But what if I am the 16th?" one student asked. "Will I be able to go?" "Then I'll welcome you with open arms," she said.

Five, fifteen or sixteen will not matter to us from Naga: what is important is for this groundbreaking project to happen. We've done our part, and we're keeping our fingers crossed.