Why Do I want to become a Lawyer?

Why do I need to sacrifice and delay all my fun activities for the next 4-5 years of my life to study and become a lawyer?

I am already enrolled and taking law subjects in a nearby school. I just started this semester. I am having a difficult time balancing my study, work, family, and personal time. I am also experiencing difficulty paying my tuition fee. I was also stressed the past week attending to my midterm exams, written case digests, and enduring my anxiety when called during recitations.

I decided to take up law to have a ready career when I reach my age of 65 and retire from work which is twenty (20) years from now. However, I feel that my motivation is not enough to encourage and remind me to go on when (not if) I encounter life’s challenges.

Hence, I made this personal motivational essay for the said reason.

This is a too personal entry that I will share with you. I need to remind myself time and again that I am ready for this new journey and I can accomplish my dream of becoming a lawyer.

It was May, 1994, when I was elected as Barangay Councilor of Barangay Market Area, Santa Rosa, Laguna at the age of 18. I was the youngest Barangay Councilor in our town. Elected Sangguniang Kabataan Chairmen were even older than me. It was at this time when I realized that I had a dream of becoming a lawyer.

I had only one opportunity in college being eldest of four in our family. My college tuition fees were paid by the College Assurance Plan (CAP) which my parents bought when I was younger. I took up Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BSPT). I contemplated then to shift my course to political science as a step in studying law. However, due to financial reasons, I wasn’t able to switch course. I finished my BSPT course in 1997 but my dream of becoming a lawyer was still there.

I continued my public service work as an elected official. I was elected first in 1994, re-elected twice on 1997 and 2002. I finished my 3-consecutive term limit. I served our barangay until 2007. Back in my mind, I firmly believed that I could have done a better job if I entered law school or became a lawyer during my 13 years of service in our barangay. Nevertheless, I believed I did a good job as the Committee Chairman on Education and Health and Sanitation during my term.

I immediately worked after I finished college in 1997. I first volunteered as a Physical Therapist (PT) in a nearby hospital. Volunteer means I do not get a salary or an allowance from the hospital. I did get patient referrals where I treated patients in their homes as a private PT and got paid per treatment session. In 2000, I was hired as a medical representative in a multi-national company. I became a pharmaceutical sales/marketing person of pharmaceutical companies until 2007. I worked in the private sector but at the same time served my barangay as an elected official. I had no time and resources then to pursue my dream of entering law school.

I married in 2003. In 2010 I already had three beautiful children. My priorities changed when I got married and started to raise my own family. I need to provide and take care of them. They should always come first. Hence, my dream of going to law school started to fade away.

In 2007, a few months before my term as an elected barangay kagawad ends, I was preparing to run as Barangay Chairman in the next barangay election. My team was already organized and I had modestly prepared the needed logistics for the said election. I confidently believed I will win. But then Vice-Mayor Arlene Arcillas approached me and convinced me to run as City Councilor in her ticket. I had a debt of gratitude to her father, the assassinated Mayor Leon Arcillas, because he supported my political campaign and for the help and favors he has given to the people I brought to him. I ran in the May 2007 National Election. I lost. My mayor won. I was demoralized, my family was tired and frustrated and we incurred debts used to support my personal campaign. Truly, law school was very far from my mind during this time.

In October 2007, my term ended, but due to the request of our barangay leaders, my wife ran as barangay councilor and won (She also served the maximum 3-term until 2018). I worked hard in the private sector during this time to support my family and pay off my incurred debts. In 2008, Mayor Arcillas hired me as a Planning Officer II in the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator. I discovered a personal new paradigm when I started working as a government/city hall employee: I do not need to be an elected official to affect change and serve my city, I can also do it as a City Planner.

In the decade of 2010 to 2020, I experienced pivotal changes in my life. I got sick in 2010, got operated in my spinal column, and was hospitalized and bed-ridden for almost 3 months. My thoughts during that time was that if I become wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life, can I still work in the City Government and provide for my family? That thought challenged me to get well. After I got out of the hospital and with the help of the PT clinic and my wife who is also a graduate of physical therapy, I trained and exercised to regain my ambulation. In a month time, I can walk with the help of a walker, then with a cane, and soon independently. However, up to this time, my left leg is still weak that causes my limp when I walk. Our family again incurred debts when I was hospitalized. But we did not dwell on that problem for so long, I am alive, I can walk, and I can pay off those debts. I am a fighter and a survivor.

In 2009, a year after I was hired as Planning Officer II, I was promoted as Project Evaluation Officer III. In 2013, I was again promoted as Planning Officer IV (Assistant Department Head). When the Department Head retired, I was promoted in 2014 as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (Department Head) of the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator. People may say that I was only promoted because of my connections but I disagree. I believe I worked hard and prepared for it and I am the best option to lead the department when I was promoted due to the following reasons:

First, I ranked third (3rd) nationwide in the Career Executive Service Written Examination in June 2013. I am the only City Government employee in our city to pass and rank in the said exam.

Second, also in 2013, I finished my Master in Public Management major in Local Government and Regional Administration in the University of the Philippines (UP) Open University. I am one of the only two department heads who finished a Master Degree.

Third, I finished a Post-Graduate Diploma with distinction in Urban and Regional Planning in the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning in 2016.

Fourth, I am a Philippine licensed Urban (Environmental) Planner. I passed the Board on Environmental Planning in 2015.

Fifth, I am a Certified United States (US) Planner. I passed the American Institute of Certified Planner (AICP) in 2017.

Lastly, I am also a Global Project Management Professional (PMP). I passed the PMP exam in 2019.

I always look for challenges to conquer and along with it ensure our constituents that they are not short-changed and have the best person serving them.

The Pandemic helped people realize what is really important. These are health, family, relationships, and financial stability, among others. For me, it rekindled the dream of my younger self of becoming a lawyer. I believe this is the perfect time to pursue my dream. I may not have the resources to pay for the tuition nor the time to allot to studies but I have my determination and life’s experience to topple these problems.

I am already a City Planner and quite secured in my family’s future and retirement. I am already 45 years old and the dream of becoming a lawyer is still there. I honestly asked myself do I really need to pursue this dream. This will mean more challenges, hardships and sacrifices for four to five years. I need a strong inner motivation, something I can hold on to when I encounter extreme difficulties in the future in achieving this dream. I found four (4) personal compelling reasons why I should endure and push thru no matter what as follows:

First, I learned at an early age the meaning of discrimination because of economic status and the meaning of the word “in good faith”. My father was a high school teacher. He bought a lot in a subdivision in the late 1970s. He applied for an SSS loan to construct our house. We are one of the first residents in our subdivision. We live in a small subdivision where everyone knows one another. Most of the parents of my friends are either working abroad, working in Manila, or running small businesses. Our house is located in one of the middle houses in our street, the smallest house, and the only one without hollow blocks fences or gate. The problem arose when eventually we found out that our house was constructed in the open space lot and the vacant lot beside our house is actually the lot my father bought. People started accusing us of stealing their open space (land). They started talking behind our backs and later upfront calling us “squatters”. They even signed and wrote a petition letter full of malice and insinuations against us and sent it to the City Government. We were looked down and discriminated. As the eldest of our siblings, I experienced the discrimination and the insults first-hand. Even if my father said that it was an honest error done in good faith and that we are willing to swap our land title (the open space land does not have a clear title), their perception did not changed. If only I was older that time, if only I am already a lawyer, I could have defended my family and remedied the problem. I owe it to my deceased father to finish law school and become a lawyer. At this point in my life, I began appreciating what our neighbors did to us because it always inspired me to always challenge myself and never give up.

Second, I believe that the new generation will always be better than the old generation. I have three children. I am hoping that by becoming a lawyer I am raising the level of our family’s achievements for them to surpass. I want them to be better than me when they grow up. If one of them decides to become a lawyer, I am paving the way for them because I can guide and help them. My middle child is interested in becoming a lawyer someday. He is one of my compelling motivations to become a successful lawyer.

Third, I believe that lawyers never retire. I do not want to rely on my kids when I retire as a City Planner. Aside from my pensions, I want to continuously earn and practice law as long as I am abled. I do not want to ask my children for money to support myself and my wife but rather I want us to give support or have means to “spoil” our future grandchildren

Lastly, the noblest of my compelling reasons (motivation) is to defend the weak and oppressed. I personally experienced how people treat others when they are weak; when they do not have the means to defend themselves; and when they do not have resources or already disabled. I do not want others to feel and experience what I’ve been through. I’ll make it my advocacy to defend the weak and the oppressed.

I consider this essay as my personal time capsule. I will try to read this essay when I feel tired, demotivated, or about to give up. More importantly, I will go back and read this essay after five years. I hope that I am already a lawyer by that time. If not (I hope not), well, I might write another essay to capture and document what happened along the way.

My experience, strong mindset, motivation, determination and dedication will fuel my journey in attaining this new goal. This entry is my documentation of my decision and my commitment to my dream of becoming a lawyer.

Image downloaded from: https://studyqa.com/public-law

The Rise of Home-Based Entrepreneurs during the Strict 3-month (Covid 19) Quarantine Period

If there is anything good that came out from the Pandemic, it is the increase of home-based businesses. The limited supplies, suspension of public transport and the strict quarantine policies made it hard for families to acquire/buy their needs in supermarkets. Housewives, teens, and families filled this gap (specially for food items) by preparing and selling home-made meals, snacks, fruits, vegetables and others. They started marketing their products using social media (mostly thru Facebook). They started selling in their subdivisions and communities.

On March 16, 2020, the President of the Philippines declared the whole Island of Luzon including Metro Manila under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of COVID 19 infection. The ECQ is the highest form of quarantine. It was extended several times and up to May 30, 2020. The ECQ lasted for almost two and a half months. It was downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) and later last year to modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). Quarantine Policies were implemented strictly in all communities.

People stuck in their homes are desperately looking for news specially about what is happening within their communities. Most people relied to Social Media for local news and activities. There is an increase in the formation of Facebook group chats wherein people in the community can interact with each other without the risk of being infected (physical face to face). These group chats served as a venue for marketing and selling home made products. Because people during the quarantine have the time and are active in social media, it became an effective medium, a great marketplace.

There are so many different products being sold in the group chats. Home-made local specialties like what your grandmother used to cook (local Philippine dishes and delicacies), barbeques, rice meals, pizzas, milkteas, snacks and nuts and even raw meats and vegetables are being delivered in your doorstep. The delivery decreases the risk of people getting infected by the virus specially if they go to crowded places like markets and grocery stores. It also gave motorcycle owners (riders) short-term livelihood by delivering different products (orders) in the community.

I will share a good and personal example of my observation. My wife and I are both working as city government employees. We are both full time employees and do not own a business. When the government declared the quarantine we were forced to work from home. Because of the scarcity of loaf breads that time, my wife thought of baking different type of breads for the family. She loves to bake but doesn’t have time before the quarantine. With the help of Youtube videos and the small oven I gave to her as a Christmas gift in 2013, she started baking different kind of pastries. Most of her baked goods turned out great and some are good (I cannot say “bad” because I might get into trouble when she reads this!). Sometimes we have excess baked pastries which we share with our friends. Our friends convinced her to sell the product and market it in the different group chats in our village.

Hence, Derek’s Delight Cakes and Pastries was born (named after our youngest son). People started ordering her products, specially her baked Soft and Fluffy Ensaymada. She also started getting cake orders. In a way, the side income modestly helped in our finances.

I saw many stories similar to her story. The Pandemic provided a short-term opportunity to small businesses to level the field with big corporations and capture their community market. Social media became a Free tool to market local home-based products. The local (community) economy adapted and developed in its unique way.

The economy and activities are now beginning to normalize. I observed a decrease in activities (marketing/selling) in the groupchats. Probably because the micro entrepreneurs are now back in their full-time jobs (employment) and don’t have the anymore time to prepare/sell their products. Probably the people grew tired of the group chats (instead of community news, the group chats are now full of product advertisements). After being forced to stay at home, people are also excited to go out of their houses to eat at restaurants or visit supermarkets. Another possible reason is that the big corporations are taking back their clients after a very long quarantine period.

As for Derek’s Delight, we got a lot of orders last Christmas and New Year. My wife that time didn’t sleep for 24-36 hours – baking! We do not know how the small business will perform this 2021. Nevertheless, we thank 2020 for the opportunity. I just hope and pray that we can sustain the gains we got from 2020.

I hope that more small businesses survive and apply their experience and learnings from 2020. I hope that many become big businesses with a good story to tell.

As an urban planner, I see this as a good thing. A thriving local (community) economy promotes social interaction, cohesion, and cooperation; job availability; and diverse and expanded product choices (quality and affordable) for the consumers; among others. As for big corporations, I hope they partner with the small businesses so they can sell their products in their establishments. Both of them will earn this way. Partnering instead of competition.

I always make it a point to order regularly from different sellers in the group chat. In my small way I support/encourage them to continue their businesses and in return I get access to their tasty and delicious local products (watch the diet!).

Everybody wins.

My New Year (2021) Reflections and Goals

January 1, 2020. This is a personal blog entry.

2020 has been difficult for everybody. As the year changes, it is just right to reflect on all the important things that happened this year. I am writing not only for personal understanding but also for personal documentation of our life’s milestones. Who knows, after 5-10 years, I may realize that 2020 was the pivotal year of our family’s journey.

A lot happened in our country (Philippines). We started 2020 with the threat of the African Swine Flu infecting our meat supply and possible infection to humans. Taal volcano erupted. Ashes filled the sky and were deposited in our roads, roofs, and almost every exposed surfaces. The risk of acquiring respiratory diseases from ash inhalation was very high. We wear facemasks when we go out because of the ash particles. Come to think of it, wearing facemasks that time prepared us to wear facemasks for the rest of the year. COVID 19 pandemic came after the Taal eruption. First time in my lifetime that I experienced families forced to stay at home due to the lockdown (quarantine). At first we thought it was only for fifteen days, then it was extended to a month and was further extended up to three months. Everything we knew as normal (work, schooling, transportation, etc) were suspended. During the first month, I had sleepness nights monitoring the news and thinking about what will happen to my family. Storms frequented the country in the last quarter of the year. We can only watch and pray for the families stucked on the top their roofs waiting to be rescued from 3-meter high flashflood. 2020 is generally not a good year.

Unlike other families, I believe that we are fortunate enough to shield our children from the mental stress that the lockdown brought to households. Our salaries continued even if we don’t report to work physically. Work-from-home arrangements were implemented to protect workers (except frontliners) from possible virus infection. We continued to eat at regular intervals and enjoyed the company of each other. The kids quarrel among themselves sometimes but their time together at home made them closer. If there is anything good we got from the quarantine, it is that our family got closer.

I do not want to sound political but I need to express and in a way document what I felt from the Covid 19 management of our national government. In fairness, all governments in different countries were not ready for this pandemic. Some of the covid-19 management positive points for me are the following: I think the quarantine was handled well (people generally cooperated and followed the government), communities worked together, selfless service dedication of frontliners, and cities stepped-up in taking care of their citizens, etc. The negative points for me are the following: the country did not close the borders early specially to the source of the virus because of international relationships, government failure to accept accountability (scapegoating, blaming the people for poor policies like rationalizing that Filipinos are hard-headed), above-the-law entitlement of high-ranking government officials (high ranking policeman birthday partying “mananita” when it was not allowed for everybody, a senator who knows he is/may be positive for Covid visiting a hospital and supermarket exposing other people to the virus, intense corruption in the government health insurance institution, etc.) and super sensitiveness of the national government to suggestions, comments, and criticisms (focusing on proving they are right and not on doing what is right). Anyway, these are just my observations and opinions, others for sure will have a different perspective on this matter. I don’t have time to argue to prove my point nor defend my opinion. It’s all up to you.

Though, 2020 has been challenging, our family is grateful to many things that happened this year.

First is we started Derek’s Delight Cakes and Pastries.

My wife found time to bake again during the quarantine. At first, she just baked for the us/family. She baked breads, cookies, cakes, and local Filipino pastries. There are times when she bakes beyond our consumption and we share them to our friends. Our friends pushed us to sell her baked pastries. Thus, with the help of friends and social media, we founded Derek’s Delight. It is now known in our community for its Soft and Fluffy Artisan Ensaymada (bread). I hope that this business will thrive and last for our lifetime. My wife found time to rekindle her passion in baking.

Second is my wife finished her second Masters Degree this year.

Her first Masters Degree is Master in Business Administration (MBA). This year she finished her Masters in Development Policy (MDP).  The quarantine period helped her focused and finish her thesis.

Third is I finished my two international training courses.

I finished this year’s BLOXHUB Summer School on Urban Resilience by the University of Southern Denmark. I am the only Filipino from the batch. I am thankful for the knowledge and skills I learned from the course. I am also thankful for the global network I gained from attending (Global Resilience Ambassadors) the 4-week course.

I also finished the “Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) for Better Resilience in Cities” Online Training on December 7-11, 2020. The Training was organized and sponsored by UN-Habitat in partnership with the International Urban Training Centre (IUTC) and Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea.

I enjoy attending  trainings. I learn new things, validate what I know, and expand my professional. However, sometimes I get frustrated because some of the high-impact projects I learn are so easy to implement in our country but they are not in the priority list of our leaders. Anyway, change doesn’t happen overnight. I just trust the process.

Fourth is my son who is just 12 years old is now taller than me.

My height is around five feet and nine and a half inches (5’9″). I hope he’ll be taller than 6’2″ and learns to play basketball.

Fifth is our children is adapting to their online mode of education.

Due to Covid 19, schooling are now conducted on-line. However, I feel that the amount of schoolwork and the stress of detainment of the kids to their homes put enormous pressure to their mental health. I do not force my kids to really excel in their studies. I believe (by experience) that they will eventually excel when they become mature enough and decides to do good in school. What I ask them is just to get an average grade and comply with the school requirements. I noticed that the use of gadgets for the online schooling is also the cause of their sometimes stubborness (due to online games). I just wish that Covid 19 pandemic ends so that they can physically go back to school and socialize with other kids before they get addicted to gadgets. Anyway, we have a gadget daily use time-limit implemented to our children. However, more than ever, we need to closely and regularly check the mental health status of our kids because of the pressure of online schoolwork and the mental effects of the pandemic scare and its quarantine.

Sixth is no one got infected from Covid 19 in our family.

I have friends and family members of friends that succumbed and died of Covid 19. I also have friends and colleagues who got infected and got well. Their families suffered the burden of them getting infected (physically, financially, and emotionally). I am always grateful that no one in my family members caught the virus.

Despite the pandemic, there are still so many things to be grateful for in 2020 (relatives, friends, work, health).

Now for this year’s goals. Some people call it resolutions, I call them goals. I need to write them here because I believe that written goals are more likely to get achieved than unwritten goals. One of my favorite quotes is about change. Though, I can’t remember the exact quote. It is like old ways (status quo) will not give you new results. If you want something new to happen in your life you need to do something new. However, this entails sacrifices, time, hardwork and dedication. The question is are you ready to pay the price of your desired change?

My 2021 Goals (to be achieved by end of Dec 31, 2021) are the following:

1. Attain my Target weight of 176 lbs/ 80kgs by December 31, 2021. (this is the hardest for me)

At present (January 1, 2021), my weight is 206lbs/93.5kgs. It means I need to lose a total of 30lbs/13.5kgs!! However, if you look at it, I only need to lose around 2.5lbs/1.125kgs per month (looks manageable?). The hardest part for me is to exercise (frail body and time) and to minimize sweets (which I need when I study or finish a mental task). It seems that I am coming out with excuses this early but that is not the case. I am just defining the challenges that I need to overcome. Anyway, I have 12 months to attain this goal (goodluck to me!).

2. Start schooling again (start law school or continue PhD).

I stopped my Doctorate study late 2019 because of my trip to the United States to attend my sister’s wedding. I didn’t continue my study in 2020. Probably because I worry about my family during the quarantine/pandemic and I cannot focus on studying. Though I took several online short courses, I used them not only to gain knowledge but also to provide a sense of normalcy in my life. Everyone’s mental health was affected by the threat of the virus and the quarantine. If someone says he/she was not affected or did not worry is lying.

I decided to again pursue my studies this year. However, I am in a crossroad wherein I need to chose between continuing my PhD or pursuing a new course (law). I remember I wanted to be a lawyer when I was first elected as a barangay councilman when I was only 18 years old (way back 1994). Now, I am seriously considering pursuing my old dream. I am weighing the pros and cons of entering law school. Let’s see what will happen.

3. Business Registration of Derek’s Delight Cakes and Pastries and its tie-up with restaurants and other commercial establishments.

I believe (optimistic) that Derek’s Delight will grow and eventually become a must-bring-home (pasalubong) to tourists visiting the city. We need to register it to become a formal business. We need to come up with a good business plan and milestone targets for it. This is challenging for us because my wife and I both have day jobs. Let’s see where will be Derek’s Delight by the end of this year.

4. At least go on two out of town (within the country) vacation with family if the situation (pandemic) allows them.

We need to get out and enjoy the outside world. If the situation and the government will allow leisure travel this year, we will surely book that much needed vacation. The kids need to see beaches, natural wonders, historical sites, museums, probably zoos, etc. They need to get out and enjoy. We also need it too. I just hope we get vaccinated soon and reduce the risk of getting the virus.

5. Protect the health (physically and mentally) of all our family members.

This year, I’ll do my very best to continue protecting my family from the virus. I will ensure that they take their vitamins everyday, eat well and healthy foods, do exercises (some physical activities) outside, wear face masks/face shields when they go out to public crowded places, and get the vaccine (when available). Health should be one of the highest priority this 2021.

2020 for me is the year of “appreciation”. The virus brought unimaginable disruption and risk to our daily lives. Suddenly, you missed going physically to work, spending time with your friends and loved ones in the other side of the world, enjoying vacations (other places), and even riding the airplane, among others. However, it shed light to what is really important in our lives: Health, Family, and how to spend our borrowed Time.

2020 is not that bad for us but I am happy it is over (good riddance). I hope all families recover and come back stronger this year (2021).

2021 is a year of “hope”. A year for rebuilding. It will be a good year because we are bringing all the lessons we learned from 2020. We are now stronger and more focused. We now know what is really important in our lives.

I wish everybody a happy, healthy, productive and full of opportunities New Year!

Five (5) Things I Learned from Attending the Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) for Better Resilience in Cities Training

I was fortunate to be one of the participants in the “Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) for Better Resilience in Cities” Online Training on December 7-11, 2020. The Training was organized and sponsored by UN-Habitat in partnership with the International Urban Training Centre (IUTC) and Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea. The training should have been conducted face to face (in person) but because of the Covid 19 Pandemic the organizers decided to conduct it online (virtual).

I also applied and was accepted in the previous training offered by the organizers on “Urban Transportation” International Training Course on April 24 to May 3, 2019 in IUTC, Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea. However, I was not able to attend because of conflict of schedule. When I learned that IUWM training was offered, I immediately applied and was again accepted.

Let’s first learn more about the Organizers.

UN Habitat. “UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. It works in over 90 countries to promote transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action.” 1

International Urban Training Centre (IUTC). IUTC “aims to contribute to the global community by providing a wide range of capacity building programs for central and regional government officials and policy makers as well as non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders of developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, the center focuses on issues related to sustainable urban and regional development.” 2

Gangwon Province. Gangwon Province of the Republic of Korea in collaboration with UN-HABITAT established IUTC in 2007. The center has trained thousands of policy makers and leaders from 54 countries in the Asia-Pacific region since its establishment. 2

The IUWM for Better Resilience in Cities online training course objective is to provide participants a deeper understanding of the principles of IUWM and how these principles can be equitably applied in cities. The training also aims to help and further understand and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on improving access to water and sanitation for all and at the same time address higher resilience and sanitation services in the cities, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. We learned to understand and analyse the different water actors that participate in the implementation of water services. We were expected to initiate the process of developing and applying IUWM action plan in our home cities. The course also gave us the tools to analyse our urban and institutional environments in order to select the best possible choice opportunities for implementing IUWM. 3

The course is comprised of four modules: Introduction and technical aspects of water management; Sanitation and Disease Prevention, including COVID-19 pandemic response; Climate Change and Disaster risk prevention in relation to IUWM; and Institutional development and action-planning for IUWM.3
By the way, SDG 6 is one of the 17 SDGs adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG 6 is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all.

After downloading the requirements and forms, I filled-out the application form for the training. The application form is comprised of your basic information, career experience, job description, English as a Language background, motivational essay, and the official nomination of your agency to attend the training. I also submitted my IUWM Case Study. My proposed Case Study is about Integrated Urban Water Management: The Case of the City of Santa Rosa.

I emailed both filled-out application form and IUWH Case Study and was duly acknowledged by the organizers. After a few days, I received an email that I have been accepted.

Our batch is diverse. It is comprised of 31 participants coming from different countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. My co-participant from my country (Philippines) is the City Planning Director (City Planning and Development Coordinator) of Olongapo City. The online training was from 2pm – 7pm, Monday up to Friday.

Below are the topics and some of the lessons I gained from the lectures:

1st Day. Integrated Urban Water Management for Sustainable Water Security in Korea, Smart Water Grid of Water Supply Systems, Integrated Water Management of Gangwon Province.
I like how water issues and management in South Korea presented were aligned with the history of the nation. I remember urban planning lectures that water defines civilization and development. Thus, water at present will influence present, future, and sustainability of cities and nation. Integrated Water Management of Gangwon Province is a good example of sustainable water management.

2nd Day. Cities for the Post Covid-19 Pandemic Recovery, Untact Climate Smart, Resilient and Resource Wise, Water Security in a Climate Crisis Area, Water Management from a Livelihood Perspective.
The COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the current situation of global water access. There are communities that still don’t have access to clean water, toilet, and sanitation. One of the best practice / weapon to combat COVID 19 is frequent handwashing with soap. How can we address COVID 19 if not all households have access to clean water? If you have access to water while your neighbour doesn’t and you happened to made contact in public places (supermarkets, restaurants, churches, parks, etc.), aren’t you still at high risk of acquiring the virus? Everyone regardless of socio-economic status should have access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).

3rd Day. Water Engineering for Sustainable Urban Water Cycle, Initial Reaction of Waterborne Disease, Pollution Prevention, and Citywide Inclusive Sanitation System.
Sometimes as Planners and water advocates, we stop our efforts when we already ensured community access to water or providing them latrines and toilets. However, equally important to water access is sanitation. Sanitation is the treatment and disposal of human waste and sewage (waste water and excrement conveyed in sewers). It is also important to ensure proper management of latrines and toilets. When we pollute our ground water, we not only endanger the source of our clean water but also invite diseases and increase the cost of water due to water treatment. There are different methods of Sewerage systems (refers to the facilities through which sewage flows). It may be a centralized sewerage system (developed countries) or an individual septic tank (enclosed) system (developing countries). We need to be equally conscious and demanding about water access and wastewater treatment.

4th Day. Institutional Issues in Urban Water Management, Development of an IUWM Action Planning for Cities.
Water supplies (source), waste water treatment (sewerage), and water related issues transcend political (city) boundaries. Thus, it is important that neighboring cities coordinate and cooperate among themselves on how to manage this important resource. Central / National government should have clear and just policies on water management and inter-city coordination. It is expected that conflicts may arise from IUWM but what is important is that these conflicts are addressed and resolved by involved parties.

5th Day. IUWM Action Plan Presentations. Closing Ceremony.
I enjoyed and learned a lot from the group presentations. Though, we come from different countries, there are similarities in terms of water-issues. Not all (100%) of countries/cities presented have access to clean water and sanitation. Every country/city has its underprivileged community that needed support. The first step is analysing and understanding the present issues. This will help the leaders develop the right strategy to the right issue. One important thing is partnering with the community in defining the problem and developing solutions to the problems.

My lessons / Takeaways:

  1. Wherever you are in the world, when it comes to water, the issues are somewhat similar. The issues include sustainability of the water source and access of the poorest communities. It is the duty of planners, policy-makers, and the high-interest / high-influence stakeholders to ensure sustainability of water source and equal access of everybody to this precious resource.
  2. Equally important in ensuring sustainable water source is waste water management. Do not stop by providing latrines / toilets. Make sure that these toilets are managed in a way that the community (benefits) uses it well and the wastewater doesn’t add to water pollution.
  3. Understand the Price of Doing Nothing (Status Quo). Doing nothing is not only inhumane (poor communities who doesn’t have access to water and sanitation) but posts danger to the community / city as a whole. Viruses and diseases don’t choose between those who have and those who do not have access to WASH. It is important that everyone have access to WASH to manage present and future diseases.
  4. Importance of Stakeholders. Plan with stakeholders. Define problems, assess situations, shortlist solutions, and choose best solutions together with stakeholders. Involved them. This will build trust among key stakeholders. This will promote commitment and support. This will define success of projects and future endeavours.
  5. Water is an important precursor to development. It influences development, sustainability of that development, and decline of cities. Failure to Integrate Urban Water Management (IUWM) may result to decline (development).

Special thanks to Ms. Trang Nguyen (UN-Habitat) and Mr. Yeonghoon Kim (IUTC) for facilitating the course well despite the challenges of distance seminar and internet connection.

I hope that more policy-makers, planners, and stakeholders attend/participate in the UN-Habitat / IUTC/ Gangwon Province’s courses. I personally hope that after the Pandemic I can personally attend one of their courses.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this years’ Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) for Better Resilience in Cities Training.

1 https://unhabitat.org/about-us
2 https://iutc.gwd.go.kr/user/aboutUs/intro.do
3 https://uni.unhabitat.org/international-training-course-on-integrated-urban-water-management/

5 Tips on How to Pass the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam


Ermin Lucino, PMP®. I passed my Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam on April 17, 2019.

In my previous Blog, I discussed the steps and provided some tips on how to apply for the PMP® exam. This time, I’ll tell you the things I did that helped me passed the test.

First, download the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). You do not need any other book to pass the exam. You can download the PMBOK® Guide Download for free when you sign-up and become a member of Project Management Institute (PMI). You may also purchase it directly but it is more economical to sign-up as a member and download the guide for free as one of its benefits. The thickness of the book is daunting!

Second, browse Youtube and Google for PMP® exam tips and reviewer. I downloaded many videos on Youtube, some are very helpful in memorizing the Project Knowledge Areas and Management Process Groups. It helped me quickly memorize the process using different codes and mnemonics. I also tried filling-out templates to ensure that I memorize them quickly. However, I realized that even though Youtube and Google helped me memorize the basics, it is not enough to help me pass the exam.

Third, look for review materials from credible institutions. These institutions require you to pay for their review resources. Nevertheless, the cost of paying is really worth it. They will give (recommend) you a structured review schedule. Lecture videos are available. I usually watch them before I go to sleep and early morning because I need to work from 8am-5pm in our City Hall.

Fourth, answer practice tests repetitively. The practice tests really helped me prepare for the exam. I think there are more than 6 practice simulation (mock) tests available in my paid review. Due to lack of time, I only managed to answer four practice tests. Practice test quickly provides feedback reflecting topics you may already mastered (strong knowledge areas) and topics you still need to further study (weak areas). It boosts your confidence when you get a high score and challenges you when you get a low score. Practice Test allows you to assess your knowledge over an immense amount of topics represented by random important questions. It also provides you the opportunity to retain answers in your brain to test questions when you check your answers especially when you didn’t get it right. So, you learn more when you get it wrong during mock exams.

I have a system when I answer mock exams. By the way, I also passed the Urban Planning Board exam in the Philippines (Environmental Planning) administered by the Philippine Regulatory Commission and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam administered by the American Planning Association. In my younger life, I also failed so many subjects and tests. I am just glad that I failed early and had the chance to learn from my experience. Anyway, I call my system the 90% system:

When I answer mock questions, my goal is to get 90% correct answers and move on the next set of mock questions. However, when I do not reach my 90% target, I do not move to the next set but rather analyze the wrong answers and then try to forget the test questions. I immerse myself reading, studying, watching videos of other topics with the goal of forgetting the answers of the mock questions. After 2-3 days, I go back to the mock exam and try to get 90% correct answers. I am not sure if this will work for you but it works for me. I do not feel that I just memorize the correct answers because I let myself forget when I checked and analyzed it 2-3 days ago. When I answer it again, it seems that the answers just pop out from the computer. Maybe there is a term in psychology for this, but I will not dwell on it. The more I get 90% from the exams, the easier I answer the succeeding mock exams. I hope this strategy will help you in any exams that you will take in your lifetime.

I never felt scared or experienced anxiety during the actual exam because I have been answering mock exams. This really helps. A lot!

Fifth, get excited to take the test. When I was in high school up to college, I was always worried when I take exams. I understand it now. My anxiety is a result of my level of preparation (which is really very low). However, when it comes to taking my College Removal Exams (it means you failed the subject and this is your last chance to pass it by passing the test) wherein the topics covers the whole semester, miraculously I managed to pass it all and get a barely passing grade. That is nothing to be proud of but I could have done better if only I put more effort and understand my priorities back then. Anyway, because you are prepared, you are excited. You want the exam to be over and excited to know your score or get the certification.

Some are asking about the review I took. I took the PM Prepcast1 and its Exam Simulator when I reviewed for the exam. I am not paid to promote them nor have the knowledge/expertise to compare their review package with review packages of other organizations. I didn’t take any other course. This helped me pass my exam. I hope it will help you too and please also check other review packages out there if you want.

I believe you’ve read this blog because you are planning to take the PMP® exam. Hope this helped and best of luck to you.

1 https://www.project-management-prepcast.com/pmp-exam/the-pm-prepcast

To learn more about PMP®, you may visit: https://www.pmi.org/

To know how to Apply for the PMP® exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/12/18/how-to-apply-to-the-project-management-professional-pmp-exam/

How to Apply to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

A lot of my friends and colleagues are asking me about the PMP® abbreviation I put after my name. You see, I passed my Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam on April 17, 2019. It gave me the permission to put the said 3 letters after my name. You might be wondering about the PMP®. How will you qualify for the exam? What is in it for you to pass and acquire this certification?

According to Project Management Institute (PMI), PMP® is the gold standard of project management certification. PMI also said that the PMP® certification is recognized and required by organizations worldwide. It validates the competence of the person to perform in the role of a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams. PMI is a global not-for-profit organization of project, program or portfolio managers. It has a worldwide advocacy for project management. It promotes globally recognized standards, certification program, extensive academic and market research programs, chapters, and volunteer and professional development opportunities.

It is advisable to sign-up and become a member of PMI if you are really committed to take the PMP® exam. Aside from the other benefits of becoming a member, the most valuable advantages for me are the free The Standard for Project Management and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge PMBOK® Download and discounts to PMI products (test registrations, reviewers, resources, etc.). The cost of membership is US$129/year and a one-time US$10 application fee. If you are not that sure if you will take the exam, you may create a free PMI online account and try to learn more if the credential fits your life’s objectives.

Aside from the PMP®, PMI also facilitates other certifications as follows: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®; Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®; Program Management Professional (PgMP)®; Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®; PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®; PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®; and PMI Project Management Ready™. If you are new to Project Management or still in high school or college you may try CAPM® (Entry-Level Certification) or PMI Project Management Ready (high school and post-secondary students)

If you are really interested to take the exam, first thing you need to do is learn about it. You may download the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook for free at the PMI Website even if you are still not a member of the PMI. The Handbook discusses the overview of the certification, timeline of the certification process, application and payments, audit process (application), examination information, policies and procedures, and certification policies and procedures.

You do not need to finish College to qualify to take the exam. However, you need to fulfill the required 5 years of experience of leading projects and 35 hours of related trainings or CAPM® Certification. The qualification requirement is based on the applicant’s Educational Background, Project Management Experience and Project Management Education.

One of the application requirements is the number of months of project management experience. This is quite tricky if at this time you do not know the definition and components of project management (Learn it Early!). The application states to submit your experience leading and directing the project. It is not required that it is paid work. However the project management experience should be in a professional setting. School projects or planning personal events are not considered as professional experience. I started working in the City Planning Department since 2008. It is quite easy for me to justify my years of project management experience because of the nature of my work. I described my job responsibilities and projects handled in the past when I applied for the exam.

Another application requirement is your 35 hours Project Management Education / Seminars / Trainings. 35 hours is around 5 days (1 working week) of 8 hours/day of training. I am fortunate that I have been attending project management seminars here in my country. I submitted my certificates as part of my requirement. If you do not have the required training, just look online, there are many seminars providers that will qualify you for the 35 hours requirement.

Make sure to fill-out your application honestly. There is a step in the application called as Random Audit. Your application may be chosen for audit and you will be asked to provide detailed information and submit supporting documentation such as: Copies of your diploma/global equivalent Signatures from your supervisor(s) or manager(s) from the project(s) recorded in the experience verification section of the application Copies of certificates and/or letters from the training institute(s) for each course recorded on the application to meet the required contact hours of project management education. I was not chosen to undergo audit, however, all my supporting documents are readily prepared during my application. You’ll never know. If chosen for audit, you need to comply first with the audit requirements before the certification process starts. Once you successfully comply with the audit, your one-year examination eligibility period starts.

I received an email after a few days of submission informing me that my PMP® application has been accepted. I have one year to sit for and pass the exam. My next step is to pay for the exam. I applied for PMI membership early and this made my payment for the exam less than non-members ($405 for members while $555 for non-members – present rate). I paid through the PMI Webpage and chose the center-based testing (CBT). CBT allows me to take the exam here in my country (Philippines).

After payment, I received my eligibility ID. I logged-in again at the PMI Webpage and viewed my nearest Test Center Location in the Prometric’s site. I chose my test center location (Makati) and the date of exam.
I now need a plan to pass the exam. I’ll discuss how I prepared for my PMP® exam on my next blog.

Are you qualified to take the exam?

To learn more about PMP®, you may visit: https://www.pmi.org/

To know how I prepared and passed the PMP® exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/12/18/5-tips-on-how-to-pass-the-project-management-professional-pmp-exam/

How I complied with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Required Certification Maintenance (CM) for FREE and Reinstated my AICP

On June 24, 2020, I received an email informing me that my AICP membership has lapsed. I can no longer use the letters “AICP” after my name and include it as one of my credentials. I told myself that I might as well lose it since I am not using it anyway because I am based outside the United States. However, out of the blue, in the first week of October 2020, I suddenly remembered the sleepless nights I endured to acquire the AICP credentials. I decided to go through the process of reinstating my AICP.

My first problem is my Certification Maintenance (CM) credits. One credit is equal to one hour. I only acquired 1.5 credits/hours. The requirement is 32 credits/hours to comply and apply for reinstatement. This means I need to finish 31.5 hours to reinstate my CM credits. My second problem is the cost of the registration of the CM. I do not have enough resources to pay for the registration of CM webinar lectures. I learned how to look for the FREE ON DEMAND Courses.

AICP encourages its members to explore CM distance learning specially during this time of Pandemic. There are several ways to earn CM. Members can earn CM by attending an online (live online or recorded on-demand education); physically attending the annual National Planning Conference; speaking / instructing at an activity that is registered for CM credit by the educational provide; self-reporting attendance, pro bono planning service or speaking / instructing at an activity that is not registered for CM credit by the provider but meets CM criteria and is approved by American Planning Association (APA) staff; authoring an article; authoring a published journal article; and authoring a book.

As for me, my option is to attend FREE online recorded on-demand CM courses. I went to the CM Search Page, clicked the filter and clicked the On Demand Free Online and APA courses (including topics which are more than two years old). A list of topics along with their corresponding CM credits filled my monitor. I began to choose the topics that appealed to me. I noticed a pattern and came up with an observation and simple system of choosing topics:

1. There are APA Chapters that provide On Demand Free Online Courses. Try to look for those Chapters.
2. There are Free CM courses from past Conferences.
3. There are topics that are available for download in Youtube. I can easily access the downloaded lectures anytime (convenience).

I made a daily schedule and planned to finish the remaining 31.5 CM/hours. I targeted 3CM / hours per day. CM hour ranges from 30 minutes (.5 credits) to 8 hours. An average CM activity I think is around 1 hour. I started downloading videos on October 8 and planned to finish all by October 18 (11 days). I finished watching and evaluating the courses on October 21.

I am required to evaluate and provide feedback from each course. It is easy to just click on the multiple choice feedback options and skip the comment / suggestion part. It is tempting given that I want to finish it fast. However, this will personally reflect on my professional integrity. If I do this, I can never be proud of the four letters (AICP) I put after my name. I didn’t succumb to this enchanting temptation of choosing the easy way. What I did is to chat down notes during the webinars and summarize them. I also took note of the sub-topics that impressed me most and the policies that may be applicable in my country (personal reflection). I wrote the topic summary and personal reflection in the comment section. I hope that is fine with AICP.

On October 18, 2020, I sent an email to AICP informing them that I finished and closed my 2018 – 2019 Certification Maintenance Reporting Period. I also request for the AICP Reinstatement Invoice. I received an invoice of $50 for the Reinstatement fee along with my 2021 APA dues ($184) and AICP dues ($110).
I now again have my AICP Credentials. Although I paid for the APA and AICP dues, I am happy that I didn’t pay any for the CM Credits.

Here at home (Philippines), I am a member of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP). PIEP is the Accredited Professional Organization (APO) of licensed Environmental Planners (Urban Planners) in the Philippines. Our license is renewable every three (3) years. Environmental Planners renew their licenses at the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC). One of the requirements of renewing the Environmental Planning (EnP) license is completion of a 45 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units during the three year period starting July 1, 2017. However, there are general oppositions to the policy from licensed professionals (not only EnPs) in the country. One of the major issues raised was the cost of the 45 CPD points. APOs and PRC may argue that there are several ways of earning CPDs (Professional Track – Training Offered by Accredited CPD Providers, Face To Face /Online; Academic Track and Self-Directed) but still the easiest and most convenient way to earn CPD is by attending conferences and lectures for a fee. PRC in general declared that the renewal of licenses without full CPD Compliance is accepted until December 2021.

I hope that PRC and APOs (PIEP) will consider providing the CPDs for free to their members as an option similar to the AICP’s CM units provided that members will provide inputs and personal reflections as part of their evaluation.

In the future, I’ll surely remember the hardships I encountered reinstating my AICP which will further strengthen my conviction to maintain my AICP credentials as long as I can.

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-exam-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states-how-to-apply-for-the-aicp-exam/

To learn more on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-prepared-and-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-exam-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states/

To learn more about the Benefits of Passing the AICP exam – https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/2020/09/29/how-i-passed-the-american-institute-of-certified-planners-aicp-even-if-i-am-not-from-the-united-states-benefits-of-passing-the-aicp-exam/

2020 Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) and COVID 19: City of Santa Rosa, Philippines

For several consecutive years, the City of Santa Rosa has always been a Finalist in the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (PCCI) Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) City Level 2 (1st Class to 2nd Class). I’ve attended several Awarding Ceremonies watching other cities receive the award. This year, the City finally bagged the award! – 2020 PCCI’s Most Business-Friendly LGU City Level 2 Category!!

As the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Director) of the City of Santa Rosa, I am trying to reflect and explain in my own lens why the City won the award this year and only became finalists in the previous years.

The PCCI is a non-government business organization in the Philippines. It is composed of small, medium, and large enterprises, local chambers and industry associations representing various sectors of business. The objective of PCCI is to foster a healthier Philippine economy and improve the viability of business in the community. According to their webpage “PCCI is recognized as the “sole official representative and voice of entire private business community” by virtue of Letter of Instruction No. 780 signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos”. Part of their programs is their Yearly Search and Recognition of Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU). There are three levels for the competition: Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities. City of Santa Rosa belongs to the City Level 2 (1st Class to 2nd Class Cities).

In the past years, the PCCI Nomination Entry Form/Criteria is consists of four parts as follows:
LGU Profile and Fund Source (Internal Revenue Allotment and Locally Sourced Income)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as number of registered enterprises, new businesses registered and renewals, total investment generated by new business registrants, Real Property units classified as commercial units, commercial building permits issued, LGU Employees, banks, and micro financing institutions. Other KPIs like Power rate per kilowatt, unemployment and underemployment rate, poverty and crime rate incidence, and presence of local chamber/other business organizations were also included.
Qualifying Indicators such as presence of previous year’s Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), appointment of Local Economic Investments Promotions Officer (LEIPO), local ecological profile, incentive code, Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) code or ordinance.
Essential Indicators are for me the most important part of the four criteria. These are series of qualitative questions. The questions are: What are the challenges that affect local economic development in your city / municipality that impedes your ability to achieve the Vision and Mission of your LGU? What are you doing to address these challenges and what are the positive impact of these initiatives?; What are your initiatives to make it easy to do business in your LGU? What are your efforts to comply with the provisions of Ease of Doing Business (EODB)? Are you using the simplified registration form?; How does the LGU attract local and foreign investors to the city / municipality?; and How can the LGU promote competitiveness? What are your programs and the positive result/s of these initiatives?

It is already an accomplishment to belong as one of the Finalists in the PCCI program. However, as a Progressive City with a Progressive Mayor, we do not only want to become a finalist, we want to win and bring pride and honor to our City.

2020 is different. COVID 19 and the Pandemic happened. Everybody was affected. Governments, Businesses, Communities, and down to households and individuals were impacted by the Pandemic. Quarantines and Lockdowns were implemented. People stayed at home and waited for the support from the Government. Public Transport System was suspended. Public Health and Livelihood were at risk. Children stopped schooling early. Majority of Businesses and Companies halted their operation.

This is where the Leaders of the City of Santa Rosa stepped up. When the National Government declared a State of Emergency, the City Mayor – Arlene B. Arcillas called for an immediate Strategic Planning activity. Department heads and component Barangay Captains (lower LGUs) were consulted and a set of activities were drafted as an output. While other LGUs are immediately taking aggressive actions, the City first checked its resources and developed an implementable and sustainable plan of actions and activities as well as local resolutions and ordinances that are needed in this time of crisis. This resulted to a more impactful, effective, and sustainable support to its constituents.

The 2020 PCCI Nomination Entry Form/Criteria includes the previous year’s criteria with additional questions about the City’s response to Covid 19. There are two major questions included in the nomination this year as follows: What are the three (3) current major challenges affecting the recovery, maintenance and promotion of businesses in your LGU/area of responsibility?; and What are the response of the LGU to these Challenges?

The Planning Office with the inputs of several City Departments prepared the nomination and organized the many COVID 19 challenges into three categories: 1. Decrease in Economic Activities / Workforce Concerns and Suspended Operation of Businesses due to Quarantine (For Non-essentials); 2. Operations and Supply Chain during Quarantine; and 3. Crisis Management and General Public Health Issue.

The City Business Processing and Licenses Office (BPLO) led by Ms. Olivia Laurel developed an online registration system using current available and open technologies to ensure efficient and safe (health) transaction in business registration and renewal as a response to the Pandemic. The City did not pay for expensive software and system to implement the Business Quick Registration (QR) project of the City.

The City submitted its nomination on September 15, 2020. On September 22, 2020, the City was chosen to advance to the Final Judging on September 29, 2020. The Final Judging was conducted on-line platform. The LGU presented a 5-minute audio-visual presentation and a 10-minute Questions and Answer with the panel. On September 29, 2020, City Mayor Arlene B. Arcillas along with the City Planning team waited for the city’s panel interview turn in the City Mayor’s Office. Mayor Arcillas answered all the questions excellently specially the Covid-related programs questions.

On October 8, 2020, in the second day of the 46th Philippine Business Conference & Expo, the City of Santa Rosa was awarded the 2020 PCCI’s Most Business-Friendly LGU City Level 2 Category.

So what’s in it for the city? Aside from the bragging rights of the city, it proved that the cities and local government units are frontliners in the fight against COVID-19 and in bouncing back better (forward) toward a resilient future. It showed the importance of the role of the LGUs in maintaining security and promoting public health in the business sector. It showed the interdependency of city programs and why it is important to businesses. It displayed the risk of businesses and the general population to crisis such as the pandemic. The City also exemplified the strong partnership between the business sector and the city government in managing this crisis. It means that it is safe and wise to put your investment and businesses in the City of Santa Rosa.

Congratulations City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines!

*picture courtesy of City Government of Santa Rosa, Laguna FB Page

To Learn more about PCCI check this link: https://www.philippinechamber.com/

How I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) even if I am not from the United States – Benefits of passing the AICP exam

( Put Your Name Here ) , AICP

One of the perks or benefits of passing the AICP exam is you can put the letters “AICP” after your name. People in the planning community will immediately know that you endured the preparation and passed the actual exam. People outside the planning community will ask about the meaning of AICP and it is still cool to tell them about the AICP exam and why it is important.

Having an AICP distinguishes yourself from other planners without AICP. It is not a license but a certification. It certifies that you passed and met the planning standards of the American Planning Association. There are jobs in the United States that prefer to hire AICP certified applicants than non-AICP passers. It is also said that AICP passers get higher income than non-passer.

That is if you are living or working in the US. I am not. I am living and working here in the Philippines.

I am already a licensed Urban (Environmental) Planner in the Philippines. I am working as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Director / Head) in my City. What is in it for me to have an AICP?

First is the (modestly) bragging rights. Whenever I am invited as speaker in meetings, conferences, or conventions; it is nice to hear the word US Certified Planner (AICP) in my introduction. It looks good as part of my credentials in my resume. It is a good topic of conversation with colleagues. Hence, the reason I wrote this 3-part blog.

Second is the Planning updates that can be accessed in the APA website. There are numerous interesting topics that can be accessed in the website. It gives you a glimpse on how developed countries tackle problems through urban planning. It also gives you an idea that somehow there is commonality of challenges between developing and developed countries. The difference is how each country approach these challenges. There is a treasure of knowledge and ideas from the website.

Third and last is the access to the Certification Maintenance (CM) topics. These are up to date Planning topics and challenges discussion which has several themes. As an AICP passer, you are now required to earn CM to maintain your AICP. There are free CM on-line seminars, however most of them requires payment.

I am a City (Urban) Planner in a Developing Country earning a very modest income. I am a father of three kids and has limited financial capability. I cannot prioritize paying the CM on-line seminars with my existing salary.

On June 24, 2020, I received an email that my AICP membership has lapsed. I can no longer use the letters “AICP” after my name. I am saddened that I am in this situation. I am now in the process on reinstating my AICP membership with the least cost possible. Aside from financial issue, I also neglect to monitor my CM seminars and explore other ways to earn credits. Perhaps I’ll write a Blog Entry in the future on How I Reinstated my AICP.

Having an AICP is great if you are planning to work and live in the United States. Having an AICP gives you a lot of advantages if you are in the US. If you are outside the US, it gives you recognition and prestige that your skills and capabilities are at par with planners in other countries.

I took the exam as a personal challenge. I worked hard for it. I am planning to get it back.

The most important benefit for me is that I learned and proved that I can pass the AICP. I accomplished it even if I am not from the US.

If I can do it, So can you.

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=325

To learn more on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=332

To Learn more about AICP Specific Benefits: https://www.planning.org/aicp/why/

How I Prepared and Passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States

I am from the Philippines. I haven’t worked or lived in the US. Yet, I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017.

I usually encounter questions on how to apply, pass, and what are the benefits of passing the AICP exam. This blog is my second blog entry from a series of three entries.

I initially planned to take the exam on November 2016 but due to lack of preparation, I postponed my exam to May 2017. I believe I can pass the exam if I am given an ample preparation time (5 months). The first thing I did is learn all about the procedure, content and context of the exam.

I took the exam in a Prometric Testing Center in our Country which is in Makati City. Makati City is around one and a half hours travel time from my City. I checked the place before the exam day and looked for a hotel nearby where I can spend the night before my exam. This is to really make myself focus and address small stress triggers that may arise before and during my exam.

The content of the exam specifically the Exam Outline and Recommended Readings are sent via email through links to the American Planning Association AICP website. The exam is composed of 170 multiple choice questions wherein there are 20 unidentified questions-in-development that do not count toward the final score. It is basically a 150 items exam.

There are five major topic areas along with the percentage of exam questions pertaining to each major topic as follows:

The exam coverage is overwhelming. I am fortunate that most of the topics are also the same topics I studied when I took and passed the Philippine Environmental (Urban) Planning exam in June 2015. However, the coverage is still overwhelming and I need review materials specific to the AICP exam.

The planning principles and policies are similar (if not the same) in the US and the Philippines. The context of the exam is Planning in the US setting. There are US Constitutional Laws and Court Decisions specific to the US. These are the things I knew nothing about. It took me a longer period of time to learn this aspect of the exam. I concluded that I really need specific review materials for this exam.

On December 2016, I purchased the AICP Exam Prep 3.0 in the American Planning Association Website. I paid $249.00 for the review materials. The lectures are in video form and there are mock exams. I listened and watch the videos whenever I have time. I took the mock exams in the reviewer several times.

Three months before my exam, I listened to the lectures almost everyday before I go to bed, and answered the mock exams weekly. I answered the mock exams repetitively until I reached my target grade which is around 90% correct answers. A week before the exam, I stopped listening to the videos/lectures and focused on answering the mock exams daily until exam day.

I checked-in to the nearest hotel from the testing center a day before the exam. I prepared the requirements and just browsed some mock questions before I slept that night. I was in the test venue one hour ahead of my schedule. I took several bathroom trips to make sure I am really focused for the exam.
I took the exam and felt good after the exam. I believe I gave my best and I look forward to the results.

On July 31, 2017, the result of the exam was released. 376 members of the American Planning Association passed the AICP Certification Exam held in May 2017. I passed the test and one of the seven International AICP Passers, probably the only Filipino.

The result link is https://www.planning.org/blog/blogpost/9131392/?fbclid=IwAR27-3jW7OaiOHHhPmElWBUQawemp1eCZ1qlbZmBzKgoSw_kQh1WFTU5iSg

The Certification came letter thru email and regular mail. I am now AICP certified and can now use the AICP suffix after my name.


I did it!! So what now?

Follow my Next Blog on to learn about the Benefits of passing the AICP: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=340

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam:https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=325