Why build the Provincial Capitol in Balamban?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Why Balamban, of all places? Why not Toledo, Liloan, Carcar, Barili, or Argao? Of course, it could not be in Danao for palpable reasons and Bogo is too far north while Dumanjug is too far south. Many people are asking but are just too timid to voice out their question. Most of them are afraid to be rebuffed or to look stupid. To the mind of the decision-maker, the dragon lady in the Capitol, the answer is obvious.

Balamban is the next emerging city, the biggest in area and the most promising new frontier, far away from the traffic, the floods, and the pollution of Metro Cebu. Governor Gwen Garcia is a visionary who perceives tremendous potentials that all the others do not see. That is why she is a leader because her mind operates to discern developments as far as the year 2050 when her grandchildren will be mayors and governors. Governor Gwen has the vision of Joko Widodo who is transferring the capital of Indonesia from the decaying Jakarta to the green and clean eastern frontier new city of Nusantara on the island of Borneo. Widodo is building a new capital that will run on renewable energy and shall become the model capital in the whole ASEAN, more beautiful than Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, or Manila.

Governor Gwen is not called the dragon lady without sound basis. She is a dreamer but more than that, she is an action woman. She gets things done because she knows how to plan, to strategize. She gets the good people to execute her plans and she knows whom to tap for funds. Senator Sonny Angara has reportedly pledged ?100 million while Senator Tol Tolentino promised ?50 million. These amounts are peanuts compared to the billions needed to make this dream come true. The province has a 50-hectare property of which 17.5 hectares have been secured for this purpose. The executive building itself shall occupy no less than 2.3 hectares. The existing Provincial Capitol will become a museum to showcase all the Cebu historical and cultural heritage.

Why not donate the existing Provincial Capitol to Cebu City to become a better and bigger Cebu City Hall? Well, Mayor Mike has his own sense of pride and his own plans to build the most beautiful City Hall on top of the mountains overlooking Balamban. The choice of Balamban is not a womanly caprice or a reckless impulse of the lady governor. There has been a scientific and methodical decision analysis done by the dragon lady with her trusted advisers and consultants. Balamban is a first-class municipality with an area of 333.56 square kilometers, the biggest in Cebu, and a population of 95,138 as of the 2020 census.

With Governor Gwen's plan, the price of real estate in Balamban is rising like crazy with speculators buying farms as if there are endless tomorrows, and developers like Ayala, the Villars, and the other speculators are swarming over Balamban as the new Mecca. My unsolicited advice to Mayor Ace Binghay and his people is that they should not sell their lands yet. The prices are going to go up 1,000% in the next two years or so. As of 2020, Balamban has an annual revenue of ??377.3 million and assets worth ?1.359 billion. No other municipality in Cebu can match that. Balamban is even richer than Carcar, Naga, or Bogo and Danao, and can give Toledo a run for its money. This move is very strategic as it will decongest the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, and Lapu-Lapu. Balamban should then be building a world-class international airport.

Once the new Provincial Capitol shall have been built, and after Balamban gets its city charter, Governor Gwen will emerge in history as the builder of new cities, the conqueror of new frontiers, the biggest dreamer, and most accomplished of all governors, even surpassing Lito Osmeña or her own late father, Noy Pabling Garcia. Then, after she has done so much for Cebu, she should start packing up to be in the Senate or think of becoming vice president of the country first, then president if there is still time.

We need a dragon lady who is more bullish than Inday Sara and more hardworking than Speaker Romualdez or Senate President Zubiri. We need the female version of Joko Widodo. This country needs more action than words and press releases. We need the dragon lady, Gwen, builder of cities.

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