Pampanga Megalopolis: Strongest Counter-Magnet to Metro Manila

The much-anticipated Pampanga Megalopolis Plan has been successfully turned over last 09 February 2018, to the Provincial Government of Pampanga at a ceremony held in the Laus Group Events Center. Governor Lilia G. Pineda led the occasion together with Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The plan was officially handed over by its principal donors, San Miguel Foundation and Palafox Associates, led by Mr. Ramon S. Ang (as represented by Atty. Peter Suchianco) and Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr., respectively.

The Pampanga Megalopolis plan is a comprehensive development plan that seeks to address major issues and challenges as well as to optimize the potential of the Province as an urban growth center that will be a counter-magnet to Manila Megalopolis. Composed of various metropolitan areas, the Pampanga Megalopolis is clustered into four groups, namely: Aerotropolis (airport-driven cluster), Agropolis (agriculture-driven cluster), Aquapolis (water-driven cluster), and Ecopolis (ecology-driven cluster).

As such, development needs for each metropolitan cluster is identified and will then be addressed by proposed projects including but not limited to the following specific sectors:

Transportation and Road Infrastructure. A Circumferential road and growth corridor is proposed to interconnect all the cities and municipalities. In consultation with some key stakeholders such as members of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce, provincial and municipal offices, DPWH and a technical working group guided by the National Economic Development Authority of Region 3, priority and supplementary road projects to complete the circumferential road have been identified.

Alternative Corridor and Transportation Improvement Measures for MacArthur Highway (mass transport). To reduced traffic volume along MacArthur Highway, a sustainable mass transport system was recommended including feeder system loops and identified inter-modal stations. Through a intermodal mass transport system approach, more than 10 modes of transportation were integrated into the plan.

Tourism Projects at Uplands and Wetlands. The development framework strategy for Pampanga follows the clustering for the Pampanga Megalopolis, packaging the province’s diversity to the tourist. Tourism circuits are proposed to help the province to better market and brand their tourism to different kinds of tourists and visitors. The tourism projects will be community driven. Building up the capabilities of local community and hiring them will enable the province to reduce poverty, and will further improve the local economy. Community-based eco-tourism balances and distributes the development to the local community.

Some of the priority projects for tourism include tourism circuits, tourism information kiosks and information centers, as well as development of Candaba Wetland and Nature Park, Floridablanca Astroscience Center, and Mt. Arayat Eco-Adventure Park. The proposed priority roads will be incorporated to provide better connectivity between destinations. Water transport will also be utilized as well, starting with the Lubao Bamboo hub to Bangkung Mapalad as the kick start for the water transportation.

Integrated Water Resources and Water Supply Planning. Pampanga has significant surface water supplies, which are currently not maximized. Based on the geography of the Province and the high annual rainfall, there is also a large volume of surface runoff water that can be contained and impounded. Through developing a series of water retaining ponds and series of water reservoirs, it would help to mitigate flooding during rainy seasons and become a source of water during dry season. After constructing the water retention reservoirs, the cities and municipalities could invest and develop water treatment plants and distribution systems as to provide clean water for domestic and industrial use. Investing in water treatment plants also helps to solve the issue of waste-water pollution.

Disaster Resilience and Flood Protection. Building resilient cities is one of the most critical aspects of economic development, sustainability, and livability. Pampanga, being exposed to numerous natural hazards, should be addressed, especially flooding, for it to better protect its industries and economic interests, as well as the health and quality of life of Kapampangans.

Both structural and non-structural recommendations are given to effectively address some of the pressing issues of natural hazards of the Province. In addition, recommendations and potential projects on solid waste management were also identified to address flooding caused by improper disposal of waste that clog up Pampanga’s waterways.

Agro-Industrial Development Zones. To further enhance the agro-industrial sector, the Pampanga Megalopolis plan also proposes areas of agro-industrial estates and farm-to-market post-harvest facilities.

 

Pampanga Golden Triangle

Another important component of the Pampanga Megalopolis is to jumpstart the proposed projects and developments through the Pampanga Golden Triangle. Bounded by major thoroughfares (i.e SCTEX, NLEX, MacArthur Highway, and JASA), the Pampanga Golden Triangle is composed of three cities (i.e.Angeles, San Fernando, and Mabalacat) and six municipalities (i.e. Porac, Floridablanca, Lubao, Guagua, Santa Rita, and Bacolor). These cities and municipalities represent fast growing as well as high-density settlements within Pampanga.

With Angeles and San Fernando cities as Pampanga’s main urban centers and the area’s relatively lower susceptibility to natural hazards, the Pampanga Golden Triangle signifies high development potential and could be the jump-off point for the larger context of the Province.

The proposed conceptual land use for the Pampanga Golden Triangle takes advantage of corridors as drivers of development. It also identifies priority areas as districts or nodes in order to ensure that the proposed land use will be orderly and can accommodate future growth.

Inside the Golden Triangle, Priority Investment Areas (PIAs) were identified. The PIAs identified are mostly poblacions, characterized by the presence of government centers, plazas, churches, residential, and commercial areas, among others. With the main goal of revitalizing urbanized areas, the objectives of the plan also include organizing the current land uses, identifying new road connections and road improvement, and creating buffer zones along hazard-prone areas. These, in turn, could be the guidelines for future developments within the Pampanga Golden Triangle.

 

Moving forward with the next steps

With the proposed projects in the plan already undergoing review and approval, it is hoped that the Pampanga Megalopolis Plan will come into fruition in the coming years. Palafox has prepared a development phasing plan for immediate, short, medium, and long terms as well as a business plan to guide the Province of Pampanga in the process of implementation. The firm has also committed to continue guiding Pampanga in this endeavor through a series of workshops and learning sessions. ◊