Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Civil engineers find Legazpi an exotic place (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 16 (PNA) -– Members of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) who made it to their 40th National Convention (NatCon) here went home after the four-day affair with a lot of stirring impressions about the city.

The grand occasion, attended by about 4,000 delegates from all over the country and abroad, was held at the city government-owned Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR) from Nov. 12 to Nov. 15.

PICE, an organization accredited by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) of the Philippines, is composed of more than 74,000 registered civil engineer-members in 96 chapters and some 47,000 civil engineering student members in 179 student chapters throughout the country.

“Indeed, the development now we see in Legazpi is engineered by the local government to make the city a truly livable urban community. It is very impressing for its sparkling cityscape loaded with heavy tourism-related activities and exciting places to relax, play, convene and enjoy a healthful living,”engineer Eugenio Pipo Jr., PICE’s national vice- president and chair of its conventions committee, on Sunday said.

He said PICE was not mistaken in choosing the city as venue for its 40th NatCon as people now come as tourists or visitors not only for the breathtaking view of Mt. Mayon, one of the world’s most active volcanoes made famous by its magically-configured perfect cone form, but also for these amenities.

Big gatherings, like conventions that have made the city one of the favorite destinations in the country, are a good contribution to local tourism, an industry that PICE supports, Pipo added.

Records of the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office for Bicol here have it that the city last year received over half a million tourists, showing an impressive increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s list of arrivals.

The total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579, 470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

“Our 2013 tourist arrival figure is good enough for the main time—surpassing even the 523,832 arrivals that the entire province of Albay posted in 2012. We hit the half million mark last year and by 2016, our goal is to hit the one-million mark,” according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

This goal maybe ambitious but workable as the local government administration relentlessly pursues a tourism master plan featuring a massive promotion campaign that highlights the city’s irresistible tourism products, ranging from its natural wonders to world-class facilities, he said.

Adding spice to the local tourism industry is the city’s being adjudged as among the three of the country’s most livable cities in this year’s Livable City Challenge organized by the National Competitive Commission (NCC), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 National Organizing Council (NOC), Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE) and Asia Society and Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Known in the travel industry world as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” Legazpi placed second to Iloilo in the most livable city ranking, followed by Cebu which placed third.

Recognitions of these three winners were done during grand ceremonies at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City, last month.

Rosal said that with the help of the city chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) headed by its president Maridel Baldano, the city government, in winning the Livable City Challenge, came up with a strategic plan for a highly resilient and livable city featuring a safe and green environment aimed at sustaining good public health.

According to Baldano, the plan, themed “Healthy City, Happy City,” presents far-reaching innovations that inspire a more dynamic development of the city into a very safe and healthy locality for its people and visitors, as well.

“We are reversing in this plan the past reputation of the city as an area messed up by natural calamities that severely debilitated its rising economy,” she said.

The plan they prepared, Baldano said, is based on the peculiarity of the city in refusing to go down on its knees amid those disasters and raising fast and sparkle once again as Bicol region’s most exciting place to visit and stay.

She recalled that the city suffered the catastrophic impact of two super typhoons — "Milenyo" and "Reming" -- that battered in late 2006 the place as severely as if it was the doomsday.

But amid those devastating scenarios, Baldano said, the badly shaken spirit of the city regained its composure promptly and the herculean character its administration has developed for the local government and instilled among the governed swiftly roused back to work.

“Life does not only continue to bloom in this city after those disasters. It has been getting livelier as the city administration continues to nourish its booming economy and explore more opportunities to rise high,” she added.

Engineer Ranulfo Feliciano, the PICE national public information officer (PIO), said it is not surprising why Legazpi was also chosen as among the host cities of the APEC meetings because “it is really a very exciting place living by its title The City of Fun and Adventure.”

The APEC opening summit will be held here on Dec. 8-9 as well as 10 of the 53 ministerial meetings to take place between March and December next year.

The other meetings will be shared by other cities of the country.

This city’s shares in the events will be held at the Oriental Hotel and Resort, a plush resort-hotel located on a hillside fronting at a distance of over 15 kilometers Mt. Mayon and overlooking the scenic cityscape and the picturesque Albay Gulf.

It will be attended mainly by 21 economic ministers from member-economies that include the Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

PICE past president and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Jaime Pacanan, who was named by Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) as this year’s Most Outstanding Civil Engineer, said “Legazpi is a very inspiring place which is fast rising as a highly urbanized city owing to its aggressive urban development."

The PICE NatCon and APEC Summit are only two of the 30 grand occasions that the city have hosted and will be hosting this year as it looks forward to being named as one of the country’s top five convention capitals. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/rsm