Philippine Housing Takeover: How the Urban Poor Claimed their Right to Shelter

Authors: Hazel Dizon*, York University
Topics: Political Geography, Human Rights, Urban Geography
Keywords: housing takeover, occupation, social movements, resistance, housing rights
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


On 8 March 2017, the Philippine urban poor marched to Pandi, Bulacan calling for their right to housing. Dubbed “#OccupyBulacan” and lead by the urban poor organization KADAMAY, 5,300 families successfully occupied several idle socialized housing projects. The act received backlash from the public, calling the occupation ‘illegal’ and the ‘Occupiers’ as ‘thieves’, ‘anarchists’, ‘lazy’, ‘professional squatters’, etc. KADAMAY justified their action as valid since 15,000 housing units in Bulacan have been deteriorating without owners while thousands of families are housing insecure or living in slums. The organization steadfastly maintained its stance and a year after the takeover, the Philippine Congress signed a resolution prompting the state housing agency to award the housing units to qualified ‘occupiers’. This level of victory had never been reached since the ‘golden years’ of the Philippine urban poor movement in the 1970s. In this paper, I describe one of the largest organized takeover of government-built housing in the global South, with an emphasis on the ensemble of tactics and strategies that KADAMAY employed. It is postulated that the victory is a result of an ensemble of strategies of resistance and the transformation of a series of critical moments into one groundbreaking moment. The ensemble is composed of a “repertoire of contention”, a “repertoire of strategies”, and the repertoire of mass movement organizing. The critical moments will be the Philippine political climate at the time of the occupation and seizing the fervor of the urban poor movement for a tangible solution to the housing crisis.

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