Philippines Makeover

From a distance, we ask...'tang'na, why not? Learn about our nation, then dream up a better Philippines with Google Earth, SketchUp, and all things possible in the virtual. Render a bridge. Share lessons. Take/make a tour. Bridge investors with Pinoy producers and manufacturers. Questions, visions, delusions welcome.

    Uy! Google Earth Philippines: Google Earth ekek for Pinoys!

      Friday, June 30, 2006

      :: Road maps for Vis-Min

      We've uploaded some road map overlays for Visayas and Mindanao, both coming by way of Brimstone of Google Earth Hacks. Check out the latest downloads at Google Earth Philippines.

      Wednesday, June 28, 2006

      :: Open invitation and challenge

      'Naga City has released its 2003 basemap data into the public domain,' writes Senen Ebio, GIS-guy of the city government. Now they're inviting Google Earth enthusiasts to dissect the data, play around with it, and use it to build KML/KMZs about the city.
      He also shares some Bicol-wide shapefiles (circa Y2K), which point out geographic features like roads and rivers which are not necessarily where Google Earth currently says they are. We've posted the files in Google Earth Philippines.
      It's a whole lot of things to play with--on a totally deeper, certainly more expert, level than what most people have been doing on GE. But basically and precisely, it's a challenge to everyone to go beyond gazing at rooftops and finding/making practical use of Google Earth. As our earlier posts about Naga City show, this should ultimately be about understanding our communities, our society, our nation, our world.
      How do we use Google Earth to fight crime? What is the best route from Fairview to Alabang during morning rush hour? What can KMZs tell us about corruption and infrastructure building in the country? What's a good 10K path for jogging with the most greenery and the least cars to run into? Which barangays still have no doctors, are running out of teachers, and where are they exactly? How big is a hacienda relative to, say, a farmer's hut on a three-hectare farm still denied him by DAR?
      Google Earth tantalizes the most when exploited as a visualization tool for social phenomena and relationships. It illustrates as well as defines relationships between individuals and sectors. It shows relative space--literally and romantically--between investors and manufacturers, consumers and entrepreneurs, citizens and governments, and teachers from every sector and everybody who would care to listen.

      :: High-res areas on Google Earth

      For all the excitement that's greeted the new high-res images of Metro Manila, it's also painfully obvious that the majority of the country languishes in low-res murk. The sharp view of Bacolod, for example, seems to end right there where its border with Talisay begins.
      Here's a gif courtesy of Tanawing Pinoy's Eugene Alvin Villar that shows (in red) which few areas are actually already being rendered in finer detail by Google Earth. This originally came out in Eugene's tech blog here. It's not terribly accurate, he admits, but we've found it a good guide to at least show you what's already available on our favorite new toy.
      Eugene, by the way, has also contributed to our wiki Tanawing Pinoy's compiled KML of destinations of note around the archipelago and beyond: the markers take you to, among other places, Dr. Jose Rizal Park--in Seattle. Check out the new stuff at Google Earth Philippines.

      Tuesday, June 27, 2006

      :: Naga 3D

      Here's a KMZ that plots and renders Naga City buildings quite extensively. This is by far the most advanced application of Google Earth by a Philippine LGU that we've seen so far.
      Once again thanks to Senen Ebio, who also made the population visualization model mentioned in Urbano's earlier post. KMZs for both are now available for download at the Google Earth Philippines wiki.
      Naga has really bought big time into online technology to spur local development--and into the idea that information made accessible can encourage citizens to participate in genuine community development. The city has an entire department one very committed individual working on Geographic Information System (GIS) material, and they've posted some of that -- plus more maps --in the city government's website here.
      I know we're all excited about Google finally rendering Metro Manila in high-res, but this really brings home the point about how building a community around available technology can be more powerful than even the best technology that's still quite beyond our reach. The volunteer and collaborative spirit generates data and material much faster than any individual can even dream of new potential applications. (Hence the creation of the Google Earth Philippines wiki, which continues to grow from contributions by the day.)
      So why wait for the next round of satellite photos? Already on Google Earth Philippines we have this 3D model for an entire city, and even an image overlay for Mount Mayon, which on Google Earth is as cloud-obscured as the entire Makati-CBD.

      Monday, June 26, 2006

      :: Naga Population Data

      The good folks over in Naga City are using GIS and Google Earth to visualize city data. The image above shows the city's population. You can download the kmz from googleearthphilippines via this link.
      Our thanks to Willy B. Priles (Coordinator, Reinventing the Naga City School Board Project) for the kmz file.

      Saturday, June 24, 2006

      :: Island and Context Hopping

      Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet posted 'Philippines Google Earth Tour' last year: a virtual 'helicopter tour' of 29 highly-recommended destinations all around the archipelago. We've posted his KML file in our Google Earth Philippines wiki. The compile includes markers for Pagudpud, Vigan, Banaue Rice Terraces, Hundred Islands, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Laguna de Bay, Puraran in Catanduanes, Mount Mayon, Boracay, El Nido, Puerto Galera, Anilao, Bantayan Island, Mount Apo, and much more. Each marker also links to wikipedia for relevant and theoretically constantly updated information.

      More than the markers, the context of a 'tour' demonstrates that Google Earth has practical applications. We'd like to see members of the academe challenging students, for example, to design other such tours that can educate all of us not only about the country, but even about more focused communities. What about bike tours around barangays in Batangas? Or hiking trails threading villages in the foothills of the Sierra Madre?
      Meanwhile, consider what the context of 'history' adds to Google Earth. We have World War II battle markers in our wiki. Could somebody post a KML of the Bataan Death March? Or could someone please just finally show me where Pinaglabanan, Pasong Tirad, Besang Pass, Mount Buntis, and all those historically significant places are? Where would they be relative to, say, Megamall?
      Anton also demonstrates the elegance of Google Earth's ability to link to the Internet--again, wikis are perfect--so people more importantly learn about the real places, people, and communities represented by those little yellow markers. The Department of Agrarian Reform is into Google Earth, too, adding yet another context to our newest toy: development. KMZs tagging agrarian reform beneficiaries as local manufacturers help to bridge farmers with investors both foreign and local.

      :: Planes, trains, and...

      We now have more than 500 Philippine markers up on our Google Earth Philippines wiki. We started with MRT and LRT lines, and now we have UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a collection of World War II battles fought on our shores, KMZs for a landslide of volcanoes, and we found Herrminator, a guy in Bacolod who built up a global KMZ of more than 10,000 airports around the world. (Global nga eh.) We took the liberty of posting just the folder for Philippine airports. (Who knew we had that many?) Check out the Philippine downloadables for your Google Earth here.

      Friday, June 23, 2006

      :: Just what we needed

      (cross posted from Another Hundred Years Hence)
      The new high-res satellite images of Metro Manila on Google Earth have made us crazy. Roby and I have decided that we need a central repository for all Google Earth data on the Philippines. We've set up a wiki called Google Earth Philippines and uploaded a few kmz files to mark up your Google Earth.
      So far we've got all the MRT/LRT stations, a partial of MM landmarks, a partial of UP Diliman (someone put in the dorms please), a partial of schools, etc.
      We can't do this on our own so we're inviting everyone to come and upload your own kmz files. Visit the wiki here. Leave some comments or send us a wishlist of what you want to see marked.

      :: Google Earth KMZs and renders for the Philippines

      We've started up a wiki to build up a one-stop shop for Google Earth material for the Philippines (KMZ files, SketchUp renders, etc.) Check it out here. Here are a few things already available on 'Google Earth Philippines' at pbwiki:

      Metro Manila Landmarks
      Metro Manila KMZs
      MRT/LRT KMZs
      Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries
      Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) borders--including IFLs for Indonesia--from Greenpeace

      For more, visit You can also help to build up the wiki, of course. Feel free to update the KMZs and SketchUp files.

      Wednesday, June 21, 2006

      :: Airport Loop

      Here's an idea sent in by Urbano de la Cruz. He writes:

      A 5.25km express light rail or BRT linking the MRT (via the Taft avenue station), LRT1 (taft avenue and baclaran) to the Manila Domestic, NAIA terminal I and II.
      Most of it can be built on current LRT right of way and airport property. A later spur can be added connecting the airport to the PNR/Southrail via Villamor.
      Urbano, of course, knows a lot more about this stuff than I do. Check out his blog on urban development here. He also has some incisive points about my earlier post here.

      Tuesday, June 20, 2006

      :: Hmmm...

      So I booted up Google Earth and found that Metro Manila is finally being rendered in high-res. Yehey. Was showing my daughter the roof of our house back in Quezon City, when I found myself wondering if it would be possible to map a walking/jogging/bike route from Marikina to North Triangle. Not that I do much walking/jogging/biking in MM. I'm not even based there nowadays. (Am writing this from Bangkok, which explains getting misty-eyed over yero in QC.) But like many Metro Manilans, I've always recognized that QC and Marikina have the last remaining patches of green in the metropolis, though they're as isolated and disjointed as the 7,100 islands that make up the whole country.
      Consider what's at the heart of these green stepping-stones. QC Memorial Circle--OK, so it's not a circle, as Google Earth clearly shows. Oweno?--is literally an island moated by six or seven car lanes. And yet, what's right there literally on the other side of the street, just outside the circle? Parks and Wildlife and Veterans Memorial Hospital leading to North Triangle, the UP Arboretum leading to Iglesia ni Cristo, Philcoa leading to UP Diliman.
      And beyond that?
      Here's my brainstorm: what if we could walk/run/pedal our way from Marikina Riverbanks to North Triangle without having to mind a single car? Carlos Celdran says it ought to be possible to create such a pedestrian lane from Escolta all the way to Luneta, and after taking his tour, I absolutely believe it. Meantime, I remember running a 10K route mapped out by the UP Mountaineers and which dragged me from Diliman to Katipinan, Ateneo de Manila High School's football fields, up over a wall that got us into La Vista, down into Grand Villas, back up through the Balara Filters grounds, and back to the Diliman academic oval.
      Point is, I guess these things are possible if you know how to thread the streets and warrens of a poorly cobbled metropolis.
      So anyway, I was looking at Google Earth, and I realized that it should be possible to literally link Bayani Fernando's riverbanks to Henry Sy's SM City.
      Not quite a Sketchup effort yet, but here's what I can dream up using GoogleEarth and Photoshop at least. Crudely executed but hopefully you get the idea. For now happily naive when it comes to land rights, money, zoning, etc., I can see a pretty wide potential greenzone by looking at Marikina-Loyola-Diliman-Quezon Circle-North Triangle as contiguous areas.
      Considering that --save for Ateneo, Miriam College, La Vista, and Grand Villas--these are mostly public lands we're passing through, how feasible is this? With land-bridges (in red) as the most expensive delusions here, Metro Manilans (or at least QC and Marikina residents) can dream up a network of pedestrian paths (in white) that can have them jogging/walking/biking from Marikina to North Triangle (and Tandang Sora, Philcoa, Ateneo, Miriam, UP, Balara, Loyola Grand Villas, and La Vista along the way.)