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Opinion

Cebu: The best Philippine city in 2022

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

As the League of Cities of the Philippines holds its convention in Cebu City, it is apropos to take a quick look at the best cities in the country according to a number of opinion-makers and award-giving bodies. The league's national president is Cebu City’s mayor, lawyer Michael Lopez Rama, while the executive vice president is Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte. The secretary general is Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. This writer had been called from Europe to facilitate the strategic planning today.

According to most of the opinion makers, Cebu City is the number one option for the best place to live in the Philippines and the most preferred investment area given its dynamic leadership, its strategic location, its warm people, its delicious foods, and its vibrant business and economic development. It has world-class hotels and a globally-competitive business environment, with IT industries and a number of BPOs and call centers. Although it has challenges relative to traffic and flooding, the city's political leadership has put in place all the essential government responses to all kinds of problems. Nightlife in Cebu is excellent. There are a number of bars for both the seniors and the millennials. Cebu City is famous for its Sinulog Festival and the city has established itself as top of mind for tourists from the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Next is Quezon City, the biggest and the wealthiest in terms of assets and economic development. Led by a young and passionate leader, Mayor Joy Belmonte, Quezon City is the home of most of the nation's TV and radio networks and is dubbed as the city of stars. But more than that, it also hosts the country's House of Representatives, as well as two of the three constitutional commissions, the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit, and a long array of national headquarters of many national agencies. It is thus considered as the nation's government center. Being the biggest in size and the most thickly-populated urban center, the challenges confronting the city include urban settlement, public health and sanitation, just like all the other cities in the Metro Manila area.

The next in line are Makati, Manila, and Pasig, followed by Taguig, Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Caloocan, and Valenzuela among the component cities of Metro Manila. Outside Luzon, the preferred cities are Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Dumaguete. When we talk about Cebu, it is really Metro Cebu, which includes Lapu-Lapu City, the home of the country's second biggest and busiest airport, as well as a cluster of global companies in the export processing zone. With new world-class hotels and casinos sprouting in Mactan, this city is bound to grow by leaps and bounds in tourism and economic development. Led by a dynamic leader, Mayor Ahong Chan, Lapu-Lapu's trajectory is going up, up, and away.

Mandaue is a twin of Lapu-Lapu and is growing even faster in terms of financial and economic growth. It is globally famous for its world-class quality furniture and this city is the home of the second-biggest beer brewery in the whole country supported by a modern glass plant and a packaging product plant under the umbrella of San Miguel Corporation, the country's biggest, wealthiest and most diversified conglomerate under the leadership of the nation's most patriotic advocate for corporate social responsibility, RSA or Ramon S. Ang. Mandaue is being led by a very entrepreneurial, forward-looking, no-nonsense city mayor, Jonas Cortes, scion of the city's iconic founding fathers.

Talisay City is also rising with increased revenues and better public service. Led by former congressman Samsam Gullas, the youngest among the local executives in the Metro Cebu area, Samsam is a very aggressive, people-oriented and passionate leader. With Mayor Mike Rama of Cebu City, Ahong Chan of Lapu-Lapu and Jonas Cortes of Mandaue, this burgeoning metropolis in the south can give Metro Manila a run for its money. There are many world travelers, exasperated by traffic and congestion in the nation's capital, who just want to visit Cebu and bypass Manila. Cebu is a complete package of tourism, arts, culture, business, leisure, entertainment, food, and music. Not to forget religion and our connection with Santo Niño, Cebu being the cradle of the Christian faith in Southeast Asia.

Cebu has its problems but it is still the best.

JOY BELMONTE

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