Bro. Erle Frayne Argonza
Good afternoon from Manila!
A most gladdening news about my city of residence, the suburban Quezon City, is that it ended up as the best performing city in the latest urban study by the Asian Institute of Management or AIM.
Primarily suburban, residential-government center-education in land use, this city had since grown to integrate mixed land use concepts in its renewal and development efforts. With a technocratic mayor at the helm, Sonny Belmonte, who was former president of the national champion Philippine Airlines, vowed to expand commercial engagements all the more and build more ambitious projects.
Witnessing the bankability of this city, the World Bank didn’t have 2nd thoughts in extending a financing package worth P3 Billion for developing the North Triangle area. The new mixed land use area is now rapidly rising, even as the ‘Sillicon Valley’ techno-park in neighboring University of the Philippines is shaping up and will be launched soon.
The news item about the bright situation of the city is summed up below.
[06 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to yahoo.com database news.]
MANILA, Philippines A week after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA), the local executive of Quezon City on Monday delivered his own version of the annual report to his constituents.
Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr reported before local city officials that the Quezon City government has aced two important factors needed to become a "well-run city" these are: good governance and a growing economy.
"I am happy to note that we are getting good grades in both," Belmonte said in his seventh State of the City Address (SOCA), held at the Quezon City Hall.
Belmonte, who boasted having spoken before German and Singaporean audiences abroad to talk about the city's urban management strategy, said his government is determined to maintain the distinction of being the most competitive city in Metro Manila, as named by the Asian Institute of Management.
After recording its sixth consecutive annual budget surplus totaling to P283 million last year, Belmonte said their government has the right amount of tools to fuel their development programs for the years to come.
He said that the local government would be spending the next two years in alleviating poverty and unemployment in the city, by focusing on key sectors such as education, business and public works.
Belmonte delivered his almost hour-long "QC-style SONA" during an event that saw the coming together of local city government officials from regular councilors and village captains to well-known local leaders like QC vice mayor Herbert Bautista and celebrity couple Harlene Bautista and Romnick Sarmenta.
Belmonte, in his speech, emphasized the local government's commitment to strengthen further the education system, especially after the city's schools division ranked number one in Metro Manila in the National Achievement Tests for Elementary.
In the last six years since 2001, the Quezon City mayor said 87 more public elementary and high school buildings have been erected, providing almost 1,500 new classrooms. Currently, nearly 500,000 children are enrolled in the city public schools in the primary and secondary levels.
"Education is our biggest human resource investment channel. This is where we can maximize the use of our resources and spread the gains," Belmonte said.
Part of encouraging the city's young students to brush up on their studies is the "ten-fold" upgrade of the financial assistance awarded to class valedictorians and salutatorians the previous P24,000 in stipend and tuition coverage every school year has shot up to P100,000.
The city's focus on education had even gone on to extend to the disabled youth, with more than 200 of them getting allowances and supplies.
As part of the school program, some 9,000 public teachers would undergo a comprehensive training under the "Training for Outstanding Performance in Education."
Belmonte added that around 13,000 Grade 1 pupils would also benefit from the city's feeding program while thousands of job hunters would get training in call center operations, as well as computer and cell phone repair.
The health sector has also benefited in the government's intensified efforts toward development, according to Belmonte, wherein the PhilHealth coverage has extended to more than 47,000 beneficiaries already.
As well, an ordinance is being eyed to develop a comprehensive and sustainable sanitation and septage management program to address the waste problem in the city. Belmonte also mused the government's saving of around P7 million by reducing biogas emission.
Meanwhile, leading the local government's infrastructure projects is the linking of major thoroughfare sprawled all over the city, including the connection of the Commonwealth Avenue and Quirino Highway; the Katipunan Ave and Commonwealth Ave; and Mindanao and Visayas avenues.
But the public works effort of the government does not only center in the widening and connecting of roads and highways, but also trickles down to the very walkways that people trek.
Belmonte encouraged peoples to walk more for them to cope with the soaring prices of oil.
"At this period of escalating gasoline prices, encouraging more people to walk is also good for our health and our pocket," Belmonte said.
Business beyond this term
He said that the business sector in the city has grown in the last six years, with number of registered businesses jumping from 30,000 last 2001 to over 53,000 last year.
He added he expected the numbers to grow further especially since the securing of business permits has been made faster and easier.
He cited as an example the government's practice to drive in entrepreneurs - of allowing aspiring businessmen to begin the construction of their establishments while their papers are still being processed.
Although triggering uproar from affected residents, the local government, through a P3-billion project with the World Bank, is currently in the early stages of transforming a major area in the city the North and East Triangles into a leading business district that would rival that of Makati's.
"We have set the pace for transformation in Quezon City, and are laying the foundations to help make sure that these gains will last beyond this term," Belmonte said. - Mark Merueñas, GMANews.TV