#futureperfect: “dream city” futures


Just brilliant! I got an invitation from the organizers to share some learnings and insights on Philippine city futures at the first Quezon City International Conference organized by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration (UP-NCPAG) and the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRGC) last month. The convention themed “Future Perfect: Cities at the Forefront of Change and Development” explored the immediate and long-term livability of Philippine cities with climate change impacts, urbanization, global integration, the emergence of new technologies and inter–metro-local cooperation as critical drivers of change. In celebration of the Quezon City’s 75th founding anniversary, the  conference showcased innovative approaches and reforms to city administration, governance and development.  I also attended the pre-conference seminar-workshop on livability facilitated by Mr. Benjamin De La Pena, Director for Community and National Strategy, Knight Foundation. 

Event was held @ Eastwood City, QC!


Keynoted by Mayor Herbert Bautista, the city chief executive, emphasized some of the major critical challenges influencing and impacting Quezon city’s livability and resiliency: disaster risk reduction, urban population and migration, urban mobility, overcrowding, public health and open spaces, peace and order,  slums, and the ASEAN integration.  Quezon city is currently the largest most populous city in the Philippines. Quezon city is the nation’s capital.  

The conference also  showcased the experiences and lessons learned by cities in the Asia-Pacific and shared how they imagine their futures for the next decades. 

Along these three main strands, panels and plenary sessions were held to solicit insights and inputs to improve the host city’s future perfect strategies and approaches:

Climate Change and Urban Resiliency

Low-carbon development
Sectoral implications and impacts of climate change
Climate change and vulnerable groups
Climate change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction
Climate risk governance

Growing Cities at the Human Scale: Liveability in Cities of Rapid Growth

Urban mobility and transportation systems (e.g. BRT, pedestrian and bicycle friendly cities, interconnectedness of transport)
Green cities and green urbanism
Inclusiveness and cities without slums
Open spaces
Peace, order and security

Interlocal Cooperation and Metropolitanization

Twinning and city-to-city cooperation
Metropolitan and transboundary issues (traffic, pollution, flooding, etc.)
City networks
ASEAN integration and competitiveness

Some takeways and insights 

# make cities walkable  by linking networks and destinations, ensure accessibility and re-design surfaces;

# increase investments for micro-climate management  by increasing tree giving sun shades, reduce urban heat temperatures, minimize pollution, minimize dust, noise and glare

#   increase the “feeling” of security via good street lighting, open and lively street spaces and protection from crime and violence day and night

# invest on infrastructures and create mixed and multi-purpose events that encourage physical activity and exercise for all user groups, interaction and social transparency, play and street entertainment, talkscapes or street furnitures, edge effects and attractive zones that stimulate peoples sense of imagination and play

#invest on infrastructures and create events that creates a sense of locality and identity. Contextualize locality investments that informs and drives a sense of climate impact and resiliency awareness and actions.

# Mainstream children, women and the vulnerable sector in resiliency awareness and management

# Integrate out of the box and outliers and not just the worst case scenarios to make city more adaptive and responsive to future shocks like urban terrorism, urban heat and other plausible unknown unknowns

#engage the neighborhood, families and relatives by partnering with them in pre-planning and post-planning disaster scenarios. Question current initiatives. Expand the notion of disaster risk management and response.

Some random photos at the conference:

IMG20151007142620 IMG20151007144353 IMG20151007144732 IMG20151008084818 IMG20151008092619 IMG20151008185405 IMG20151008194251 IMG20151008194823 IMG20151009135300 IMG20151010084205

IMG20151009133858 IMG20151009133909 IMG20151009134804 IMG20151009161013 IMG20151009190020

Transforming the Brotherhood

(Here is a summary of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Convention and foresight workshop we had a couple of months ago. A full report will be published in the APOLINAC magazine this year.)

1st APOLINAC National Convention Photo courtesy of Mr. Spider Rodas (2015)

What would APOLINAC, as an organization, be like five years from now? What are the disowned and preferred futures of the brotherhood? What might drive the best case scenario or what could push the worst case scenario in 2020? What role could APOLINAC play in a community or society driven by data and technology, creativity and social innovation? What are the hopes and fears of APOLINAC? How can the brotherhood participate in social transformation? How can it lead and learn in a generation informed by globalization, migration and the ASEAN integration? Should APOLINAC adopt new ways of thinking and organizing the brotherhood? Or should it remain an old, conventional fraternal organization as it was twenty years ago?

These were the questions that members, old and young, tried to answer in the 1st APOLINAC convention. Around 50 senior, young professional and student leaders attended the action learning exercises to explore alternative and preferred futures of APO in Laoag and Ilocos Norte. The workshop through collective intelligence charted some possible and plausible futures in the year 2020.

The purpose was to find ways to transform the brotherhood from an “organization that exist only for itself” to a brotherhood engaged in social transformation at the community, local, national and global levels.

Using futures tools and methods, APOLINAC deconstructed its “current reality” to reconstruct “the context and brand of APO” for the next five years. Futures triangle and scenario tools were applied to identify the drivers and issues that will shape the fraternity and their preferred story of the future.

The participants were divided into four groups to discuss, deliberate and imagine its three alternative future APOLINAC environments: the used future, the disowned future and the preferred. The futures triangle mapped the pushes of the present (trends), the pulls of the future (visions and hopes of its members) and weight of history (factors and issues that prohibit the organization to achieve the preferred).

In summary these are the three alternative futures for APOLINAC.

The scenarios are not predictions but rather are plausible future histories of the organization:

1. Wagwagan!
2. Ang Paglalaho
3. Braving the Winds of Change

The USED future: Wagwagan This is the business as usual story of APOLINAC. Driven by the good old days, APOLINAC remains a status quo driven fraternity in the year 2020.

Like any other organizations, APOLINAC is primarily a passive union of the old and some senior members reminiscing the past glories of the 1970s and the 1980s. While there a couple of young professionals in the organization, they would have real difficulty situating themselves in a tradition driven fraternity.

At the organizational level, APOLINAC members are disconnected or disjointed as majority of the members become detached from the “real world”. Membership and recruitment emerge as its greatest challenge and that they could no longer adjust or adapt to a transformed world. The narrative of loyalty persist and commitment are measured by some outmoded indicators. Programs and projects in this scenario are recycled and initiatives are similar to hand-me-down concepts of or from big-brothers. Consumed and exhausted, APOLINAC remained what it was five years ago.

While they were optimistic and inspired by some events in 2015, the weights of history and status quo depleted the organization severely ie funding, membership, initiatives and volunteers.

The wagwagan story illustrates a worn-out, used up and second-hand APOLINAC in 2020.

used future

Figure 1. APOLINAC in a Wagwagan Future Scenario

Indicators for the Wagwagan future story were:

1. Ganoon pa rin ang kwento at walang pagbabago; 2. Maliit ang pondo at walang bagong miyembro; 3. Hazing ay issue pa din at parang may segregation o discrimination ng membership (the culture of hazing continues despite a law prohibiting hazing; hazing is a part of the ideology); 4. APO and its members are passive, inert and unresponsive to community needs and social change; 5. Reactive seniors and recycled projects and initiatives; 6. A disjointed and a disconnected group; 7. Authenticity is problematic; mandates are unfunded; 8. A waning commitment among alumni members due to family and other obligations; 9. Lack of commitment and slow feedback; 10. Superiority of seniors and the inferiority of resident members; 11. Lack of regard to uninintiated members; 12. Dwindling number of resident members.

Ang Paglalaho Is APOLINAC’s disowned future. As the organization disavowed and rejected the call for a transformed APOLINAC in 2014 and refuse to acknowledge the strategies and reforms needed to address the gaps and weaknesses; the recurring problems and the status quo would adversely disrupt the APO society in 2020. This is APOLINAC’s image of survival and departure.

Unresolved issues and some black swan events (surprises) would damage the integrity of the organization, the welfare and safety of its senior and younger members:

1. Corruption and the lack of transparency and accountability; 2. Lack of membership and new recruits; 3. Unsustainable practices and habits that leads to the fragmentation of the organization; 4. Lack of funding and incentive leads to volunteer burn-out and vanishing projects; 5. Death in a hazing incident that leads to criminal cases filed against senior and young leaders and imprisonment; 6. The lack of ethics and a disciplinary board or emphasis on discipline leads to social aggression and violence; 7. Poor organizational management and senior leadership; 8. Lack of social innovation leads to boredom and withdrawal of young and senior members.

Ang paglalaho is the worst case scenario for APOLINAC in 2020.

It is a story of trauma and failure. It is the ultimate future shock of the organization. APOLINAC in this scenario is “rejected” and “disowned” by its members and the society at large.

pag Figure 2. Ang Paglalaho. A memory fading away in 2020?

The Preferred Future: Braving the Winds of Change

This is the story of a transformed APOLINAC in 2020. In fact, this is the preferred future of the organization. Surfing and braving the winds of change, the brotherhood and the sisterhood, re-emerges as the most distinguished, reputable and desirable fraternity and network organization in 2020.

Preferred by many, especially amongst the young professionals, its narrative of transformation and social impacts would attract people, society leaders, resources and networks here and abroad. Braving the winds of change for APOLINAC means “having the personal ability, the self-motivation and the organizational capacity to influence people and persuade the institutions that matter; to fix what must be fixed within the organization and to change and transform our communities for the better.”

2 Figure 3. Braving the Winds of Change: Much of our will is skills and finding strength in numbers

Indicators of a transformed APOLINAC are: 1. Productive, inspired and highly motivated members; 2. APOLINAC invest in highly creative social innovation projects; 3. APOLINAC participates and committed to building resilient individuals and communities; 4. Younger and senior members would channel their energies on social impact investing projects like: creating its own APO Blood Bank; the APO Foundation that offer scholarships to brilliant student members; facilitate a fraternal network and contacts for employment and social opportunities; establishment of an APO office and the utilization of social applications and information and communication technologies to communicate and network, disseminate information, give updates; expand the membership and influence of APOLINAC; 5. APO diversifies its membership and invests on a couple of income-generating projects.The APO Multipurpose Cooperative emerges and provides emergency and salary loans, start-up and business loans and facilities for members among other services that increase member’s access to social opportunities, capital and enterprises; 6. APO maximizes and harnesses the skills, talents, network and influence of its members to drive and transform APOLINAC as a distinguished fraternity and people’s organization in the province of Ilocos Norte; 7. APOLINAC initiates a strong volunteer brigade with complete tools and equipments.

The inner story in this scenario is transforming by building the organization from the inside and out; by  creating new pathways and social capital opportunities for its members and APOLINAC’s immediate community. Moral leadership, surpassing the organization’s limits, finding strength in numbers and designing rewards and demanding accountability is crucial to the future of the organization.

Make the Preferred Future Inevitable

Participants of the workshop knew that APOLINAC needed to change (otherwise the Wagwagan future becomes APOLINAC’s future) and that majority of its senior members acknowledged the promise and leadership role of their younger counterparts to chart the future of the organization. Their creativity and energy could transform the brotherhood beyond what could and might be for APO.

A cafeteria style reform – knowing and picking what works and what not – and surging above simplistic solutions and sharing and helping everyone to become productive and dependable members of the organization and the community is an aspired future.

In the afternoon workshop, participants opted and resolved to make the preferred future inevitable that is by “braving the winds of change” and creating new prospects to transform APOLINAC’s future.

Photo courtesy of APOLINAC 2015
Photo courtesy of APOLINAC (2015)


The Future of Ilocos Norte Agrarian Reform Communities (ARC)

Two months ago, the Center for Engaged Foresight facilitated a community-based foresight workshop for development specialists, senior project managers, cooperative leaders and staff of the Department of Agrarian Reform of the Province of Ilocos Norte.

Thirty five agrarian reform officers and five graduate students of public administration  participated in the workshop.

DAR Achievements at the National and Local Levels

Today, there are around 4.2 million hectares of distributed agricultural lands in the country. DAR  reports to have distributed 900, 188 hectares of private agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Alave, 2012). DAR  by law is required to distribute the remaining 961, 974 hectares covered by the CARP’s Land Acquisition Distribution Program.

In Ilocos Norte, DAR reports to have transfered around 97% of the 30, 165 hectares of Private Agricultural Lands covered by CARP. The program has benefited around 25,267 farmers (DAR Report, 2012). As of 2012, the province is recognized as one of the top 10 provinces to have completed its distribution targets nationwide (DAR Rep0rt 2012).

DAR has 9 major agrarian reform communities in Ilocos Norte. The ARCs are located in the municipalities of Carasi, Sarrat, Piddig, Laoag City, Vintar, Marcos, Dingras and Solsona.

This clusters of ARCs is composed of 226 barangays covering a total 134, 580 hectares in land area.  These ARCs are devoted to rice, corn, coconut, and vegetables production.

As a conduit, it has a total of 108 Farmer’s Organization with a combine cooperative membership of 13, 490 farmer members.

Challenges and some Wicked Problems

These are some of the wicked problems that the participants noted and that DAR has to address to ensure a more responsive land distribution program and achieve the vision of an increased farm income and  poverty free ARCs:

1. the lack of surveyors;

2. tedious verification process;

3. uncooperative agencies

4. landowners.

5. “overlapping of functions and beneficiaries” – lack of coordination between agencies and acknowledgement of its complimentary roles that usually result to an overlapping of functions.

6. agrarian social justice issues – the department is perceived to be lacking and/or deficient in promoting agrarian social justice and reducing poverty in rural areas.

ARC Map 001

Drivers and Trends Shaping the Future of Agrarian Reform Communities in Ilocos Norte

Using the STEEP method, the participants identified a number of trends and/or mega challenges driving the future of agrarian reform communities:

1. climate change in particular weather related shocks such as flooding, drought, La Nina, El Nino;

2. economic vulnerabilities of poor income households and unstable farm to market products prices, etc.;

3.  declining number of farmers in the rural areas due to migration and labor shifts and youth preferences for the service industry (the impact of the hotel/call center industry is felt at the farm level);

4. declining interest in agriculture;

5 unsustainable credit mechanisms and drained credit facilities due to low repayment rates;

6 slow adoption of beneficiaries to modern agricultural technologies and methods;

7  weak implementation of cost-sharing agreements (between beneficiaries, local government and DAR; most beneficiaries perceives the projects as mere dole-outs);

8 complex political dynamics that the farmer beneficiaries are engaged into;

9 lack of fund availability to sustain agrarian reform communities;

10 poor maintenance,  ineffective schemes and lack of end-user accountability in the maintenance and use of physical infrastructures such as roads, irrigation, potable water supply, lands, etc.;

11 frequent changes of leadership that prohibits the continuity of projects;

12 the frequent movement of DAR personnel;

13 the high administration cost of collection of amortization payments, transfers, etc.;

14 the inability of borrowers to pay banks related to credit, etc.;

15 lack of land ownership and land tenure;

16 increasing use of chemical fertilizers and pest controls to improve farm productivity.

Islands of Victories

Participants also noted some “pockets of improvements”, some “islands of victories” and “islands of hopes”. These are positive drivers and trends for Ilocos Norte ARCs :

1 The improvement of the tenurial statuses of distributed lands;

2 A decreasing incidence of leased lands;

3 The seriousness of the current administration to pursue a much improve, more sincere and more inclusive CARP policy agenda;

4 The absence or non-existence of large privately owned land holdings in Ilocos Norte;

5 A strong and cohesive and sustainable Zanjera organizations in the rural communities;

6 Presence of hard working farmers and self-reliant farmer organization in most agrarian reform communities;

7 The absence of agrarian unrest or incidence in the agrarian reform communities (no Tarlac Hacienda Luisita scenario in Ilocos Norte);

8 The existence of a relatively well-maintained agrarian physical infrastructures in the province (farm to market roads, communal irrigation projects, bridges, pre and post harvest facilities, potable water supply, rural electrification, health centers);

9 Lesser population pressure or losses of agricultural lands to non-agricultural lands in the rural areas;

10 An increasing frequency of crop rotations per year in agrarian reform communities;

11 the existence of strong “multi-purpose cooperatives” in agrarian reform communities;

12 the non-existence of so-called “corporate farms” operating in the province, however, contract growing or leaseholding arrangements may increase in the province;

13 A much improved and  growing farm productivities and outputs because of improved irrigation systems,introduction of high yield crops and modern technologies; and

14 The increased investment and interest of partner agencies to improve the social and human capital opportunities in agrarian reform communities.

Sustainable Futures

Here, CEF facilitated a futures landscape and futures triangle workshop to map ARCs future horizons.

In five groups, the participants explored and discussed the pulls, pushes and weights of agrarian reform communities of the province of Ilocos Norte.

Futures triangle is a futures tool box used to map the trends, events, visions, ideas, and ways of knowing the future. For more discussion on the futures triangle, please check Marcus Anthony’s Deep Futures and China’s Environment published in the Journal of Futures Studies. This paper employs futures triangle to explore China’s competing dimensions of the future.

Below are the pushes, pulls and weights of agrarian reform communities of the province of Ilocos Norte:


1 Pushes to the Future of Agrarian Reform Communities (competing positives and negatives trends)

Weak land administration  adversely affecting the implementation of CARP; poor land records; tedious land titling; lack of information sharing; unclear land policies at the local and national levels; flawed land redistribution; habit of land speculation; over estimation of land values beyond market value and the lands actual productive capacity; just compensation issues; stocks transfer schemes; CARP evasion; legal maneuverings puts that put ARCs to some legal risks; some privately owned lands remains outside the coverage of CARP;  increase pawning, mortgaging and leasing out in some agrarian reform communities

Pulls to the Future of Agrarian Reform Communities

Enhanced community relationships in agrarian reform communities; reduced land-based and legal conflicts to agrarian reform communities; Increased investment impact of ARCs on agriculture and market sector; Minimized cost associated with land ownership and uncertainties; More credits and investments in farm assets; Expanding and increasing social and human capital in agrarian reform communities; Flourishing credit and multi-purpose cooperatives in ARCs; Reduced or zero poverty level in ARC areas;  Institutional impact of ARCs felt and leads to the adoption of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Program (GARP) – a beyond CARPer scenario is expected in a GARP scenario – land valuation and assets improves; agrarian justice delivery realized; significant welfare gains achieved in ARCs; Strong community organizing and cooperative developments and wealth creation in the ARCs; crops planted diversified, ARCs become hotspots of food sufficiency and production in the country.

Weights of History to the Future of Agrarian Reform Communities

Bureaucratic corruption; massive land conversions compromising the expected outputs of the program; CARP beneficiaries circumvents CARP law to convert it to industrial and residential lands; increased incidence of land conversion in a post-CARP/post-DAR scenario;  exclusion of a lot of landless and poorest of the poor agricultural land workers; access of the poor to land markets; land remains to be largely concentrated in the hands of the few; high poverty incidence in agrarian reform communities (rural areas); transferring land does not necessarily lead to higher income, productivity and growth in the rural areas; high risk and vulnerabilities of rural areas in a climate change era; increasing number of unresolved agrarian land reform cases; delays, abuse, and weak agricultural land markets in the rural areas; difficulty of securing credit from banks by CARP beneficiaries.


Agrarian Reform Communities Futures

When participants was asked where and what DAR would be in the futures landscape – jungle; chess; mountain top and star – majority of the participants argued that DAR Ilocos Norte was in the “chess/strategy” futures horizon/landscape. DAR personnel’s had “power struggles, expert battles, smart leaderships, controlling the center, strategies and tactics” as day to day realities/soundbites of the organization.

However, a minority of the participants believed that DAR’s futures landscape should be the at the “mountain top” and not the “chess/strategy” future landscape. They argued that the “vista of the way forward was now more visible and possible” and that “they have seen and experienced the best and the worst cases or scenarios of the agrarian reform program.”

They argued that as they have been with DAR for years, they have seen contour of the future and part of that was the extension of the CARP program.


Four Future Worlds for Agrarian Reform Communities of the Province of Ilocos Norte

The last and perhaps the most exciting part of the workshop was the scenario building exercise.

Here, the participants discussed and explored the most plausible futures for the agrarian reform communities of Ilocos Norte.

The scenarios were presented as  narratives of “what tomorrow may look like” for Ilocos Norte’s agrarian reform communities

Scenarios are stories with plausible causes and effect links that connects a future condition with the present, while illustrating key decisions, events and consequences throughout the narrative (Glenn and the Futures Group International, 2000). Scenarios, basically, is not a presentation of a list of predictions or a series of suppositions (Watson and Freeman, 2012).

Questions such as what will the agrarian reform communities be like in the year 2040? the hopes and fears? the disowned future? The what are we gonna do about it? what is our desired future? and the what actions can we take next to achieve our desired future? prompted initial conversations (Inayatullah, 2007).

Below are the results of the scenario building exercise, the participants were able to develop four alternative future worlds for agrarian reform communities:


Que Sera Sera: Whatever will be, will be ARC future (Confusion and Stagnation)

With “status quo” and the “negative” pulls, pushes and weights of history in mind, the social, political and economic life of agrarian reform communities in the year 2040 was pretty much the same when compared to 2012.

Wild weather and legal disabilities would continue to cause “real significant” problems as farmer beneficiaries had lived largely with the consequences of a problematic agrarian reform program.

Farmers in ARC communities remains highly vulnerable to technological changes, legal and political maneuvering, climate change and market trends.

After 40 years of agrarian reform (in a post-CARP/post DAR scenario), participants imagined the 2040 agrarian reform policy and evaluation report stating: “(that) after spending a total of  300 billion Php on land distribution and agrarian support services, the program beneficiaries are still grappling with weak land administration, dependency, social and financial inadequacy, declining interest in agriculture, complex political dynamics that they are engaged into (political dynasty, corruption, vote-selling), production inefficiency, etc.

The Que Sera Sera scenario anticipates a narrowly focused, easy-going, come what may, rudderless, and business as usual agrarian reform communities in the year 2040.

The “Bahala Na Future” that connotes a hopeless and fatalistic view of the future was the future. The future was “destined and “unchangeable” as the “whatever will be, will be” future was concerned.

This scenario does not see any substantial or transformational changes happening in the future.

It anticipates a CARP and DAR getting an extension in 2016 with a similar set up and more funding in the future.

There remains a pressing demand for land and DAR support services here. A “bini-baby babying at kinakantahang” agrarian reform community was the image of this alternative future.


Agrarian Deformed Communities (ADC) (Climate Change, Manipulation and Conversion)

The agrarian deformed communities scenario is the story where the “most unfavorable conditions prevailed” in agrarian reform communities of 2040.

The unresolved weights of history and the amplified negative pushes of the present, the non-extension and termination of DAR, climate change and emergence of black swans led to: lower farm income and yield, problematic land tenure, increased poverty incidence, inefficient production, massive conversion and commercialization of agricultural lands, legal battles between farmers and banks, bankruptcy of ARC cooperatives, financial distress.  These challenges would evolve as “wicked problems”.

“Lacking in state support, resources and plain good faith” (Bello, 2008) the so called “agrarian reformed communities” would become the “agrarian deformed communities”.

These communities that were crippled and maimed by massive internal (structural) and external shocks (weather, the white elephant in the room) (water crisis, rural poverty, climate change, corporate take over/evade just and fair compensation to evade cost, landlords, increasing cost of farm inputs, legal maneuverings, poor maintained rural infrastructure, etc.) would end up leasing or selling the agricultural lands they acquired in the 2012.

Emerging issues or black swan (low probability but high impact in nature events) includes:

  • increase violence/crime in agrarian reform communities,
  • the implementation of the RH Law would affect labor requirements / gaps in rural agricultural communities,
  • increased incidence of corruption in agrarian reform cooperatives,
  • more agricultural farm lands are pawned leased or sold to corrupt politicians, corporation and banks,
  • the failed CARP program and the neo-liberal environment/framework of CARP would affect food diversity and food security in the process;
  • large-scale mining in the province would also impact the agricultural industry.

The image of a less productive farm lands increased absolute material poverty (food, cash, social and human capital opportunities, etc.), and poorly maintained rural infrastructure was the image of this alternative future world.


Agrarian Transformed Communities: The Gunglo Alternative Future (Cooperatives, Community Leadership and Social Transformation)

The Gunglo alternative future is the most optimistic of the four possible future worlds for agrarian reform communities.

This future anticipates a bigger role for agrarian reform cooperatives in growing and sustaining the gains of DAR/CARP program in the year 2040.

The impact of the non-extension of CARP and localization of DAR, in this alternative future, would inspire and drive (challenges becomes an opportunity) the 108 ARC cooperatives and Zanjeras of Ilocos Norte to facilitate socio-economic growth in the rural areas.

Their combined strengths and efforts would transform the ARCs.

Here, the ARCs are no longer “orphans” of government and foreign development assistance but “key actors”, “critical facilitators” and “drivers” of rural socio-economic growth.

The strength of the Gunglo’s and Zanjera’s micro financing projects, efforts to sustain the environment, protecting watersheds geared towards the establishment of farmer benefitting market/credit programs shall create new socio-economic opportunities for local development.

The cooperatives diverse initiatives would expand and re-create not only material but also social, cultural and intellectual wealth.

Optimizing their potential to create wealth at all levels, the coops, in this scenario, would invest in knowledge creation, service and cultural industries.

By putting up their own Multi-purpose cooperative malls, shops, wholesale, retails, banks, and schools – the coops would emerge as new centers or multiple centers of transformative socio-economic growth.

Today, DAR’s Ilocos Norte ARCooperatives has a combined asset of more than 1.5 Billion Php according to participants.

In this scenario, a shared story and future is created.

The Tamaraw or the Carabao  metaphors for perseverance, patience, wisdom and resilience in the local community  represents the coops success and role in social transformation .

The coops would function like nodes connected and linked to each other.

The coops preferred vision of the future will, in the long-run by accident or incident, challenge dominant economic (corporate/State paradigm of rural economic development) and political visions (dynastic, limited) for ARC’s future.

The strength and the impact of the social-collective – the Gunglo (society) – will be felt mostly at the cultural, economic and political levels.

A zero poverty and a prosperous agrarian community future is the image of this alternative future.

ARC’s Disrupting Conventional Economic and Market Structures and Traditional Notions of Political Power and other Outlier Scenarios

The fourth alternative world (similar to the outlier scenario) was the emergence of agrarian reform cooperatives as  new centers and/or multiple centers of local socio-economic and cultural growth.

Incidentally, this new trend will also impact traditional notions of political and economic power like dynastic politics and the middleman. Cooperative leaders  challenging political dynasties was the first outlier scenario.

However, the white elephant in the room  was the “hidden agenda” of the “powers that be” at the local, national and global levels.

There were “few untouchable landowners” at the local and national levels who are engaged into leasing and converting agricultural lands indiscriminately.

The incidence of massive legal and illegal land conversions that could compromise the expected outputs of the CARP program could lead to the exclusion of thousands of farmer beneficiaries later on.

A Hacienda Luisita scenario or the more hybrid “Ilocos Villas rising”, “Corporate farming and its impact to poverty” the future of Ilocos Norte agrarian reform communities here.

Another outlier scenario was the impact of an “aging leadership”, “aging pioneers” and declining interest of young people in agriculture could severely impact the future of agrarian reform communities.

Today, the average age of farmers of Ilocos Norte is 45-50. Participants noted several impacts of aging to agricultural production, sustainability and food sufficiency.

The issue of inheritance practices and ownership informed by individualism (subdividing land for taxation and ownership purposes ) was also impacting/affecting efficiency of land-re-consolidation and agricultural land preservation negatively.


Basically, the workshop enabled (as facilitators and participants) us to: see things as they are happening right now (the bigger and local picture of agrarian reform communities); anticipate a number of wildcards (developments or things that would completely surprise us, if undetected);  explore our possible nightmares (issues that kept us awake at night) and; reframe our questions with a long-term perspective – where are we headed (the ARCs) and what alternative scenarios are possible.

The scenario created represent the macro (the global, national) and meso (local, current operations and their trajectories) environments. Its purpose was to engage participants in a more deeper conversations about alternative futures and the practice of community based foresight.

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Shermon Cruz, Notes Re: DAR’s futures thinking and community base foresight workshop, , Northview Hotel, Ilocos Norte 2012

Richard Watson and Oliver Freeman, FutureVision: SCenarios for the World in 2040, Scribe Publications, Australia, 2012

Marcus Anthony, Deep Futures and China’s Environment, Journal of Futures Studies, Taiwan, 2012

Sohail Inayatullah, Questioning the Future: Methods and Tools for Organizational and Social Transformation, Tamkang University Press, Taiwan, 2007

DAR Ilocos Norte Report 2012