Luna Terraces : Socialized Permaculture Housing Community

Housing and Urban Development is one of the priority sectors that have a direct impact on the long-term vision of the Philippines, on which Baguio City’s plans are anchored to. The City aims to build safe, resilient and sustainable communities in adherence to Sustainable Development Goal 11 and recognizes the importance of quality housing despite the current housing need. The growing backlog of housing units in Baguio City is triggered by the influx of people wanting to settle in the urban area because it is the center of business, commerce, and education in the Cordillera Region.

Baguio City is becoming increasingly urbanized and is continuously transforming into a green, smart, and creative City which result to economic growth. This rapid development has also resulted to a growing number of informal settlers, insufficient and inadequate housing infrastructures and services, and unplanned urban sprawl. In the Local Shelter Plan of the City for the year 2018-2026, low-income wage earners from the government sector, 2,704 displaced households and 3,361 informal settlers from the different barangays/villages in the City are targeted to be provided with socialized housing. With this intention, the local government of Baguio intends to eliminate the housing backlog by the year 2030 by ensuring access to adequate, safe, sustainable and affordable housing, basic services, and green and public spaces with special attention to the needs of the vulnerable sector which includes women, children, persons with disabilities and senior citizens.

The Luna Terraces as a permaculture community directly addresses multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1, 2, 3, and 15). This responds directly to poverty, hunger, good health and well-being, and life on land. At present, the City has 2,946 poor and vulnerable households who are beneficiaries of social assistance and development from the City Government. As of 2018, 1.5 percent of the population is below the poverty line. In 2019, childhood malnutrition and food insecurity has resulted to stunted growth in 2.42 percent of children, 1.09 percent were underweight, and 0.74 percent were overweight/obese. With the integration of permaculture, these issues on poverty and hunger can be addressed with the incorporation of new methods of access to quality nutrition, smart agriculture and urban gardening. Subsequently, healthy lives are ensured and well-being at all ages is promoted. The development of an urban agricultural system in a sustainable way contributes to SDG 15 particularly in the management of a food forest and in the preservation, protection and promotion of the sustainable use of such ecosystem. It also supports the target of integrating ecosystems and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, and poverty reduction strategies.

The City’s permaculture community has the potential to be a model for sustainable community development and ecotourism. This can be achieved with the creative systems thinking and design principles that showcases the sustainable management of energy consumption, water usage, and wastes treatment. The permaculture core ethics contributes to this direction. Such ethics include biodiversity conservation, soil health, air and water quality, food security, food sovereignty, health and well-being, social justice and human rights, sharing of knowledge and fair allocation of resources.

To reduce the housing backlog, the City has established a solid partnership with government agencies such as the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) in order to fund and develop the Luna Terraces housing site. The DHSUD granted Php 155M for the site development and Php 50M from the NHA for the construction of two (2) buildings with 62 units, and another Php326.17M for the completion of eight (8) remaining buildings and its permaculture development.

The architectural plan includes ten (10) buildings containing 260 housing units, community center, greenhouses, nurseries, and greenspaces. Access roads will also be constructed and linked to the City network in order to maintain the residents’ access to employment, social, health and education services outside the housing development.
The Luna Terraces aims to protect the lives and assets of the propective beneficiaries, especially those currently living in high-risk areas. The City Government intends to resettle them to a safe site and improve and re-establish their socio-economic conditions.

This housing project is tailored to the target beneficiaries’ socio-economic characteristics and needs. Housing assets will be replaced and economic activities and access to social and public services will be re-established. Designed with due consideration to the community social organization and cultural patterns. Information on the population to be resettled was collected which includes the physical, legal, economic, social, psychological, cultural, and environmental needs and requirements.

VISION: "To provide affordable and sustainable homes to families regardless of economic status, in a healthy and diverse community by championing community food forests and survival gardens designed to build community resiliency and local food security and fostering community-driven development."

MISSION: "To build quality homes and a healthy ecosystem where families can live, work and thrive through the adoption of culturally and naturally acceptable practices that are aligned with enabling sustainable food production through smart agriculture within a livable urban environment."


1. SUSTAINABILITY: observing and engaging nature in coming up with sustainable solutions to address emerging needs and drive long-term environmental and economic priorities that ensure the survival of the community for generations to come;

2. INTERDEPENDENCE: building solidarity and mutual respect to each other, with a community that works together towards a shared goal, enjoying and appreciating a safe, organic, and biodiverse ecosystem using holistic permaculture design methods;

3. INNOVATION: working towards innovative thinking and action to improve community processes and realize positive change by valuing and making use of all available resources where nothing goes to waste

4. FORWARD-THINKING: creativity, adaptiveness and versatility are adopted by the community as it builds permaculture solutions for the future;

5. CARE FOR PEOPLE- there is food security, food control, health and well-being are promoted, social justice is present and human rights are nurtured;

6. CARE FOR THE EARTH- supports biodiversity conservation, soil health, air and water quality; and

7. FAIR SHARE: low/medium income families and the whole community is equally benefitted because of the fair, respectful and understanding relationship between and among the community dwellers.


1. To provide decent housing for low/medium income families and uplift their standard of living;

2. To provide a variety of housing types, of different sizes and level of affordability, to accommodate different types of households;

3. To ensure clean air, free of harmful air pollutants, and green spaces for everyone to enjoy;

4. To educate and empower the community by nurturing a more liveable human habitat and a sustainable food forest;

5. To strengthen the community so that it can prosper in the face of adversity by developing a food forest through community engagement, leadership and advocacy;

6. To ensure equitable access to forest gardening opportunities and to local, healthy produce from smart agriculture;

7. To overcome urban isolation by providing opportunities for people to garden and tend the food forest together, learn from each other, develop a sense of community, and create a liveable environment;

8. To reduce external costs and maintenance, especially on aspects of physical design and permaculture elements;

9. To design and build housing structures in order to reduce energy and food costs, and inspire beneficiaries with more holistic and liveable accommodations;

10. To provide a community that has an easy and nearby access to goods and services, health care, emergency series, and schools; and

11. To start a community that will promote green infrastructure development and construction and pave way for green building policies and ordinances.

Stage of the project




Starting Up





Why was this project started?

The pandemic has imposed threats to public health, availability of food, and access to social welfare and protection in the City. It has caused severe economic disruption and the City’s estimated loss is pegged at US$35.7M. 5,000 Micro/small/medium enterprises closed; the construction industry went to an abrupt halt; the transport sector was shut down, and 10,000 lost jobs.

The pandemic has also shut the beneficiaries into their temporary shelters and should a disaster happen, as the City is a high-risk area in terms of earthquakes, sinkholes, flooding, and landslides, their present vulnerabilities would have been put to a catastrophic level.

The City had been trying to implement a low-cost housing project. A 1.8-hectare property for this purpose in the 1980s and it was in 2019 that two (2) grants from the national government totaling US$4.2M were acquired by the current city leadership. Memorandums of Agreements between the city, the National Housing Authority, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development were signed in 2020. The grants are programmed for site development and the construction of two (2)
medium-rise housing buildings for sixty (60) families.

The City intends to design a participatory living laboratory program that is a definitive step away from the build-then-award method for shelters and to take the more challenging path of co-planning, codeveloping, and empowerment through early social and environmental preparation. There is a need to prepare the families to acquire and practice lifelong skills towards self-sufficiency. In 2019. the Philippines
National Housing Authority reported housing completions of 25,280 housing units for calamity victims, but no built-in permaculture component was included, thus, an innovative “manual of change” guiding the implementation of the living laboratory is a prerequisite to achieving desired impacts.

The results of the project so far

Field visits provided the city government with a glimpse and a fortified empathy to the poor state and a resolution to develop a way to help the beneficiaries. Their poor living conditions, exposure to possible disasters, and limited access to jobs and livelihood had been exacerbated by the pandemic. There is a determination within them to access housing opportunities, and an openness and willingness to actively participate in a proposed community that 75% of them do not know of. Access to food and nutrition, a possible livelihood, and the wellbeing that comes with a secure and safe home is metric enough.

The priority target population for the project are the 3,361 informal settlers who are currently living in environmentally-critical and disaster-prone areas and were validated by the City Building and Architecture Office as due for demolition/eviction, and who are likewise identified by the City Social Welfare and Development Office as urban poor. The National Housing Authority, likewise, has identified that four hundred forty-six (446) of these families are entitled to resettlement assistance. Currently, two
hundred (200) applications were able to meet the set criteria and the computed maximum carrying capacity of the project is at two hundred and sixty (260).

The City Planning and Development Office, City Veterinary and Agriculture Office, and the City Social Welfare and Development Office visited five (5) households maintaining permaculture/survival gardens. They discussed the layout and size of their gardens, how they used their produce (for personal consumption and/or selling), their income, how the pandemic affected them, and where they got support.

A total of 20 people were chosen at random from the 200 qualified applicants to be interviewed. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the respondents are not familiar with permaculture but all of them are willing to live and participate in an agriculturally productive community.

What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?

The internal stakeholders who were engaged in this project are the executive and legislative branches of the City government; relevant regional and national agencies;
local government committees particularly the Beneficiary Selection and Arbitration Committee, Housing and Urban Development Committee and the Committee on Social Services, Women and Urban Poor; and the socialized housing project team members make up the internal stakeholders who have been engaged through Executive Orders, Memorandum of Agreements, and Council Resolutions. Other parties who have an interest in this program due to their office mandates are the City Departments that provide services in social welfare, health, trade and industry, agriculture, and disaster risk reduction and management. The plans had been jointly developed by the City Planning and Development Office, the City Engineering Office, and the City Buildings and Architecture Office.

The external stakeholders are the potential beneficiaries, the volunteer practitioners-collaborators, and the residents of the host community where the program will be implemented. They were engaged through public consultation in January 2021, the volunteers signed up for their participation in December 2020, and a permaculture planning workshop was undertaken with them in February of 2021. The potential beneficiaries came to know of the proposed project in July 2020. Future engagements with them are being planned and scheduled.

The short-term indicators of success for this endeavor are the following:
1. The 1,500 inquiries, expressions of interest, and application submissions as a prospective beneficiary after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreements and presentation of the project to different stakeholders;
2. The volunteerism and participation of permaculture enthusiasts in the first permaculture community planning workshop held in February 2021;
3. The 75% prospective beneficiaries from the survey interview who are unfamiliar with permaculture and are willing to live in a community that practices such;
4. The support from national and local governments in terms of funding grants and other instruments to pave the way to implementing the project;
5. The number of committed housing beneficiaries who will undergo education and training; and
6. The development and start of execution for a living laboratory and the “manual of change.”
The long-term outcomes are the following:
7. The actual permaculture practice of the first sixty (60) households;
8. The expansion of beneficiary households to two hundred and sixty (260);
9. The generation of investment opportunities from the practice;
10. The improved quality of life of the residents; and
11. The participatory living laboratory is replicated in other parts of the City and in the country

Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?

The importance of strong public stakeholder engagement. The City had been hosting public consultations to present the Initiative's plans, to forge a shared understanding and eventual ownership of the City's plans and programs, and to build on the agenda of transparency and accountability.

The active involvement of volunteers shows that the community understands and share the vision of the City. They are invited to planning activities and will sit at the beneficiary selection, education, and training process.

Implementing a participatory living laboratory shall test and showcase a whole-of-society approach as the success of this initiative will lie entirely on active partnership throughout the lifetime of the program.

Aside from government partnerships, the key collaborators of this program are the following: the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who will provide the socio-economic perspective; the permaculture practitioners, environmentalists, green building practitioners, and engineering specialists within and outside the City who share their technical skills; the Technical Education and Skills Development institutions like the Baguio School of Arts and Trades and other Vocational Schools that will learn from
this living laboratory and use this community as their laboratory as well; the Non-Government Organizations involved in social development and housing, environmental conservation and protection, and the public health experts. The City is also the home to several universities that are engaged in urban and environmental studies. Women leaders and gender mainstreaming authorities are also actively in
partnership with the local government. The financial contributions of housing developers and contractors for the implementation of socialized housing in the country through an escrow fund maintained by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. These relevant actors jointly address crosssectoral challenges that may arise in order to improve the quality of support given not only to the target
beneficiaries but to the success of the entire endeavor.

Have others adopted, or shown interest in adopting, your idea in their own area?

The idea is the first of its kind in Baguio City and the Philippines, which programmed and designed a lowcost resettlement housing project with permaculture practice. Traditional housing selection based on the capacity to pay shall be enhanced with the capacity to learn and commit to a lifestyle change geared towards permaculture practice and self-sufficiency. Physical development shall no longer just be about the design and plan of housing units but the incorporation of landscape aspects, valuing ecology and urban regeneration.

The provision of housing units is an important agenda in the national and local governments in the country, in fact, innovation in the provision of better living conditions is welcomed. The National Housing Authority “envisions not just the building of homes, but thriving and flourishing communities where the integration of culture and advancements in the lives of the Filipino families are sustained.” This
statement served as a challenge and influenced the conceptualization of the project. According to research, none of the reported Philippine housing completions in 2019 had a built-in permaculture component and targets beneficiaries from the marginalized sector.

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