Mayor Labella meets Fil-Chinese Chamber

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

It’s been a year and eight months since the Department of Tourism assigned a new regional director in Region 7, Shalimar Hofer Tamano, whom I interviewed in our TV show “Straight from the Sky” more than a year ago. But back then he was new to the position, so once more I invited him to be our guest to talk about what he has learned from Cebu’s tourism industry which has grown by leaps and bounds.

Indeed, how tourism in Cebu has grown from the time we marketed ourselves as “an island in the Pacific”. Today, Cebu, thanks to social media, has earned the respect of the tourism industry as one of the most famous islands in the world.

Today, we have the whale sharks in Oslob and trekking in southern Cebu, and soon the Ocean Park, which is bigger than the one in Manila, will soon be opening. Then you have to see the safari in Carmen that truly put Cebu as an important tourism destination.

So tonight watch our good friend, tourism director Shalimar Hofer Tamano, on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8 p.m. with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9 p.m. Monday and at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.

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Last Friday night, I accepted the invitation of former ambassador Frank Benedicto to be at the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce meeting with Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella as their guest. To be totally honest, I haven’t been inside this building for 25 years and I was glad to meet old friends, many of whom who tell me that they never stopped reading my columns in The FREEMAN and The Philippine STAR. Also with Benedicto was Atty. Augusto. Go and Robert Dino, father of Presidential Assistant Mike Dino.

Truth to tell, it was the first time I met Mayor Labella since he won the election and I really didn’t want to disturb him in City Hall as he has a lot of things to do. But I was glad that he met with the Filipino-Chinese businessmen who are the major business owners in Cebu City. As I expected, Labella was well received by the members of the Chamber simply because they know that we now have a new kid on the block and when he spoke before them, he clearly pointed that there won’t be any more arrogance from his office and there will be no special treatment for as long as everyone follows the law.

Labella gave us a litany of the problems in Cebu City like our garbage collection and, of course, our worsening traffic situation. It was then that I asked a question in that forum, that it is high time for Cebu City to come up with a law that no one is allowed to buy a car unless they have a garage or parking place for the car.

It is high time for us to realize that thanks to the easy monthly payments that commercial banks have offered our city residents, so many people bought cars even if they have no place to park their new car. This was clearly shown in social media networks when 200 cars were towed for parking at night in places where ambulances or fire trucks can no longer pass during times of disaster.

In my Facebook page, I read many complaints from those car owners that the city towed their car because they had no place to park the car but near their homes, where cars are not allowed to park. So they complained: “Where will we park our car?”

It is time for us to accept today’s reality, that many squatters or illegal settlers now have jobs, many of them in IT Park which pays them very well. But these people opted not to move out of their current homes, thus they have no garages for their new cars.

Hence, Cebu City must bite the bullet and have a law that says you cannot buy a car unless you show the Land Transportation Office where you will park your car. I also took the opportunity to inform Mayor Labella to use the right of eminent domain to slice a property in Escario Extension so it will straighten towards the main Escario Street along the corner of Gorordo Avenue.

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