Two Barangay Kanluran residents and two UST Newton researchers during the participatory mapping activity at a Focus Group Discussion. Text reads Mapping ecological-social assets final report virtual conference.
Two Barangay Kanluran residents and two UST Newton researchers during the participatory mapping activity at a Focus Group Discussion. Conference banner layout by Noel Cruz ©

Sylvia Clemente

By Newton Institutional Link Grant Project - UST

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) research team led by Dr Leah Dela Rosa and deputy Ar Sylvia Clemente, in collaboration with the University of Reading (UoR) led by Dr Flora Samuel, held their Newton Agham Institutional Links (IL) grant culminating conference. The team conducted the ‘Mapping ecological- social assets: The final report virtual conference’ on 30 October 2020.

Despite challenges this 2020 from natural calamities such as the Taal volcano eruption, typhoons and the COVID-19 pandemic, the team completed the project including the virtual conference.

Organised by UST researchers Ar Noel Cruz and Ar Lorelei De Viana, the virtual conference convened partners, collaborators and local stakeholders of the project. It highlighted the research results and outputs and impacts of mapping the assets in Santa Rosa City. Presenters put forward the value of documentation, mapping and participatory action research for knowledge production and mediation.

British Council in the Philippines Country Director Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio acknowledged how the partnership project addressed one of the priority areas of the Newton Agham Programme by the Newton Fund focusing on Future Cities. Cities chosen for the project are Santa Rosa in the Philippines and Reading in the United Kingdom.

Dr Dela Rosa and Dr Samuel presented how the research was conducted by the UK and Philippines teams and the partnership between the institutions. UoR dean Prof Lorraine Farrelly highlighted the collaborations between UST and UoR since 2016.  

Following the objectives of Newton Agham for Future Cities, the team identified the challenges and opportunities as the eco-social impacts caused by the rapid changes in Santa Rosa due to urbanisation. These were presented in two parts: ‘Results and findings’, and ‘Impacts and outcomes’ of the project.

The researchers presented results through:

  • the baseline data survey with multi-variate analysis
  • the taxonomy of eco-social assets
  • the social-value impact analysis which views Santa Rosa, while being modern, is a society characterised by ‘damay-malasakit’ (sympathy and concern)
  • the various maps generated and presented through Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • the ‘Urban Design Guidance’ which may serve as a visual guide for future urban development projects in Santa Rosa City.

Impacts and outcomes were presented through:

  • the Researchfish report and analysis – a reporting requirement by the British Council-Newton Fund projects
  • the results of participatory mapping done by the locals themselves
  • citizen science and community engagement which established the link between the locals and the researchers aimed at creating a sense of community ownership for the project
  • the enhanced placemaking and co-design through participatory visual methods.

Academicians from local and foreign universities joined the research teams and local stakeholders at the virtual conference. Among them were university deans Prof Gloria Teodoro and Prof Jocelyn Lutap who moderated and gave their reactions to the study.

Representatives of the barangays, the local government offices and the UST research team shared their insights and aspirations for Santa Rosa through this project through an audio-visual presentation. The community expressed the general feeling of empowerment that they were included as part of the research project and that their voices were heard in the process. The LGU also heard and learned about local views and opinions about their barangays and the city and the problems that beset the communities.

To best summarise the conference, Dr Maria Alexandra Chua, Director of UST Research Center for Arts, Culture and Humanities emphasised that inclusive placemaking brings forth the strengthening of the link between people and their community and environment. In the final analysis, the project met the objectives of the Newton Future Cities Programme.

The IL grant awarded to UST and UoR, titled ‘Eco-social surveying: Mapping social assets, urban greenery and the connections between them in rapidly changing cities’ is a two-year project funded by the British Council through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

UST and University of Reading Mapping report virtual conference screenshot of about 25 of the attendees from CHED, UST and University of Reading.
UST and University of Reading Mapping report virtual conference screenshot of intro slide of lead researchers Dr Leah Dela Rosa and Dr Flora Samuel

See also