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Philippine city charts a different path

Iloilo, an opposition stronghold, pioneers a new approach to urban life

A cycling event in Iloilo City in late July: Urban renewal projects have made the Philippine city more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. (Photo by Arnold Almacen)

ILOILO City, Philippines -- On a Friday night in Iloilo City's Regatta Hotel, a group of amateur singers are crooning folk songs and 1970s rock and pop. The music does little to raise the spirits of a large group of female supporters of Leni Robredo, a liberal former vice president and local favorite, who has just lost the Philippine presidential election to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, a son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, deposed in 1986.

Still stunned by the return to power of the Marcos dynasty following six years of rule by Rodrigo Duterte, another strongman president, the women order a bottle of wine, exchanging ideas about what they might do next. But the obvious answer lies all around them -- consolidating the future of Iloilo City, which has emerged over the past few years as a beacon of liberal governance and environmentally sensitive reconstruction.

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