THE CITY of Bacolod was named the country’s most liveable urban center during The Manila Times Philippine Model Cities Forum and Awards on Thursday at the New World Manila Bay Hotel in Manila, besting 12 other cities.
The event was held in cooperation with P&A Grant Thornton, the professional services firm.
Bacolod City was chosen as the Top Model City across all criteria by a panel of judges composed of Architect Felino Palafox, Convergys Philippines Services Corp. Chairman Marife Zamora, Wilcon Depot Director Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, and P&A Grant Thornton Tax Advisory and Compliance Division Head Eleanor Roque. Bacolod came with the most complete set officials, led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and Rep. Greg Gasataya.
The Safe Haven Award for peace and order was given to Sta. Rosa City, with city administrator Mauel Alipon receiving the trophy from presenter South Forbes Golf Club.
The Environment Friendly Award was handed to Batangas City and was received by Mayor Beverly Rose Dimacuha-Mariño from Wilcon Depot.
The Business Friendly Award (for ease of doing business) was given to San Fernando City, Pampanga and was received by Mayor Edwin Santiago from P&A Grant Thornton.
The Retirement Haven Award was presented by the Philippine Retirement Authority to Tagaytay City, represented by planning officer Carlos Zuñiga. The Education Hub Award (public scholarships, city-funded schools) went to Parañaque City, with Mayor Edwin Olivarez and wife Janet together with key city government personnel accepting the trophy.
Meanwhile, two cities were recognized for being Social Services Oriented – with Quezon City as the winner for Programs for Youth Development and Empowerment, and Zamboanga City for Programs for Health and Elderly.
Mayor Isabel Climaco received the award for the western Mindanao city, together with the largest contingent that attended the event. Phirst Park Homes presented the award.
Mandaluyong City got the Wealth Center Award (investment friendly and improved tax system) with Mayor Carmelita Abalos receiving the trophy from presenter San Miguel Corp.
Mayor John Bongat received the Livelihood and Employment Haven Award (jobs and programs for self sufficiency of residents) for Naga City.
The Road Home Award (public infrastructure and public housing projects) went to General Santos City, received by Vice Mayor Shirlyn Nograles.
The Emergency and Disaster Management Award (improved emergency response and rescue, equipment, etc.) went to Laoag City, with Mayor Chevylle Fariñas receiving the trophy.
Davao City won the Tourism Hub Award (business and leisure tourism) with presenter Marco Polo Davao receiving the trophy on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte’s home city.
As a preview of the next awards where municipalities will be included, a special recognition was handed to an emerging hub from the south, the Municipality of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte, which was received by Mayor Marcos Mamay.
In his opening remarks, The Manila Times President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd, explained that the awards “aim to recognize effective and innovative local governance that improves the quality of life, make local business environments friendlier, and overall makes this country a great place to live.”
Ang was assisted by the paper’s chief operating officer, Blanca Mercado, in handing out the trophies.
Palafox, managing partner and founder of renowned architecture and urban planning firm Palafox Associates, delivered a lecture titled “Cities of the Future: Philippines at 500, 2021 and Beyond”
Vickram Cuttaree, World Bank Sustainable Development for the Philippines program leader, spoke on “Competitive, Inclusive and Sustainable Cities.”
Roque discussed efforts by local governments to ease business processes, while KMC MAG Group Managing Director Michael McCullough spoke on “Manila Green Building Trends and Market Outlook.”
Gracing the affair was The Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Arevalo Ang, who was recently named Special Envoy of the President for International Public Relations.
Also present were key officers of The Manila Times – Editor in Chief Neri Tenorio, Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, Supplements Editor Lea Beltran, Vice President for Sales and Marketing Danny Ocampo, Vice President for Finance Evelyn Fauni, Advertising Director Roda Zabat and Marketing Communications and Services Director Denise Calnea.
Business Times columnist and former House of Representatives member Kim Bernardo Lokin hosted the event.