Legazpi heads further to environment-friendly urban dev't

May 27, 2013 11:58 pm 

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 – Engineer Noel E. Rosal, who, as mayor for nine years of this largest Bicol city, engineered the transformation of its socioeconomic configurations into tremendous growth, is back with a renewed mandate to once again steer the city towards a more aggressive but environment-friendly urban development.

Rosal ran unopposed under the Liberal Party (LP) to start a new term with a reconditioned mission: respond dynamically to the next starting gun of the race for modernization and run through the rugged and winding track without looking back to reach ahead the straight, rolling path where the finish line is just a few more strides.

“For more than a decade now, we have been running the race with precise speed and passionate determination to stay in the lead pack even as today, our city is already recognized as one of the country’s fastest growing in all aspects of development,” he said.

A graduate of civil engineering from Adamson University, Rosal entered politics by serving as barangay captain of Barriada, an urban village of his birth and residence.

Three years later, he won a slot in the city council and after serving the local legislative council for six years, he ran for mayor in 2001 and won to become, at 37, the city’s youngest local chief executive.

He was twice reelected to reach the mandatory end of his nine-year term in 2010.

His wife, Geraldine, won the elections in the same year to serve as his replacement.

He worked as city administrator under her until his resignation when he filed his certificate of candidacy late last year.

Mrs. Rosal has decided not to seek reelection on her desire to return to private life and be able to attend to her three growing up children.

According to Marcial Tuanqui, the former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the city, under the stewardship of the Rosals, has achieved a robust economy — owing to stable peace and order, infrastructure boom, good governance, massive tourism industry development, graft-free administration and pronounced partnership with the private sector.

Under engineer Rosal’s term as mayor, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in 1996 recognized the city as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines and under his wife’s present incumbency, it was cited by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the most business-friendly city for the whole South Luzon.

The AIM then, in a study it conducted, adjudged the city as the next business and convention hub after Cebu and Davao.

The AIM study was made after the Cebu-based Landco Corporation established here the Pacific Mall, the first major mall in the Philippines back in 2001.

Metro Gaisano now stands as the anchor department store and supermarket of Pacific Mall, which has undergone three major expansions and is considered to be the biggest mall in Bicol.

In 2009, Sunwest Corporation, a private infrastructure development giant, came up with its first foray into the mall business here — the P1.2-billion Embarcadero de Legazpi, a premier waterfront development now emerging as a world-class lifestyle hub both for tourists and the locals.

Under Mrs. Rosal, the city was cited as one of best places for business process outsourcing (BPO) outside Metro Manila as it advanced in 2011 to the 10 next wave cities in the country’s industry list of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.

The city currently has two IT park — the Embarcadero de Legazpi and the Legazpi Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park — that are both highly conducive for outsourcing businesses.

The two facilities offer about 8,000 call center seats that could provide jobs to some 24,000 agents in three-shifts.

Pioneering the business in the city is the Incubation Center of Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc., which is an extension of Embarcadero’s P1.8-billion IT Park, the very first IT ecozone in the Bicol region inaugurated in July 2009.

An Australian BPO company has recently opened its own call center here while the US-based Sutherland Global Services is awaiting the completion of its three-storey building along the Legazpi City Boulevard to open another BPO hub to accommodate 4,500 call center seats.

Camella Homes, which has developed an expandable 20-hectare Caribbean-themed development located in Barangay Puro, is the latest entry to the city’s urban housing development while negotiations for land acquisition by Ayala Corporation is undergoing.

Tourism in the city, which last year earned the nickname “City of Fun and Adventure,” has also come of age.

The lady mayor attributes this to the long, hard work of all the tourism stakeholders in the locality that have merged their efforts to slowly transform the city into a showcase of tourism progress and development.

In 2011, the city posted tourist arrivals of 358,617, which climbed to 438,100 in 2012 for a 22.16-percent growth — complementing Albay province’s 49-percent tourism increase within the same period.

Besides, she said, Legazpi, a first class city, has a beautiful skyline with the waters of the Albay Gulf on one side and the Mayon Volcano, a near perfect symmetrical conical volcano, towering over the buildings — creating a majestic scene.

Situated in the heart of the Bicol Peninsula, the city provides tourists and guests enough flexibility to move around the Bicol Region — being the center of land, sea and air transportation.

It has also emerged as the Convention Center for Bicol, with big local and international organizations regularly holding their grand occasions here yearly since about four years ago.

A Japanese firm has partnered with the city government in the putting up of a 500-room hotel also along the Boulevard to serve as a one-stop venue for conventions and seminars.

Its construction is presently ongoing.

Incoming mayor Rosal, now 49, said he is still very young and wearing the vigor and determination to continue pursuing the dream of all Legazpeños to make their place the most progressive and livable in this part of the world.

“We are doing that by way of introducing more developments that are friendly to the environment so that while we expand our urban center up to our outskirt barangays, we at the same time are protecting and preserving nature,” he added. (PNA)

HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

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