27 February 2007

A planning school at the Ateneo?

I AM taking a big risk with this post, as someone who is not officially connected with the Ateneo de Naga University. But I just can't contain my excitement over the latest developments in regard to the Naga City Planning Studio course that will be held at the Ateneo this coming May, involving international students from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.

More or less 20 of them will be coming over, as two more Mexican ladies are on stand by should somebody in the original list decide to drop out, Prof. Leonora Angeles of the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) emailed me recently. This is way above the minimum of five that she had in mind when Vice Mayor Gabby Bordado and I spoke in her class last November.

Dr. Malu Barcillano, director of the Ateneo Center for Local Governance, has already secured approval from university president Fr. Joel Tabora to host the learning sessions for the course. Her draft program exceeded Nora's expectations; while most hands-on activities will take place at City Hall, it will feature other Ateneo case studies on participative governance all over Bicol. Our departments stand to benefit from the wealth of local and international experiences and knowledge will be shared with local staff.

What excited me is this part of a previous email:

"I foresee the possibility of conducting research and doing pro bono guest lectures as well at the Ateneo to show my gratitude for their help. I would like to see this course as a catalyst perhaps for Ateneo to have its own Planning School as well."
Whether Naga, through the Ateneo, will have its own planning school one day is not for me to say. But I hope Fr. Tabora will more or less agree with the late Robert F. Kennedy who said: "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"