LIVABLE-1LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 19 (PNA) -– This city’s being adjudged as among the three of the country’s most livable cities has affirmed its excellence as host to the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office for Bicol here over the weekend said.

Although no doubt has been earlier raised over the competence of the city in playing host to this grand gathering of world leaders, the recent award further boosted such attribute, according to DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla.

This key Bicol urban locality, known in the travel industry world as the “City of Fun and Adventure” shadowed by the beauty of the majestic perfect cone of Mt. Mayon, was named one of the three winners in the Livable Cities Design Challenge in grand ceremonies held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City, last Wednesday, October 15.

Legazpi placed second to Iloilo City in the ranking; followed by Cebu City, which placed third. Apart from these three winners, 17 other cities — Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Baybay (Leyte), Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, San Fernando (La Union), Marikina, Olongapo, Ormoc (Leyte), Pasay, Pasig, Surigao, Tacloban, Valenzuela and Zamboanga — accepted the challenge and joined the competition.

These cities include those hosting APEC Meetings in 2015 and others that are vulnerable to or have been affected by disasters in the past. 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.

The Livable City Challenge, sponsored by the United States Assistance for International Development, was organized by the National Competitive Commission, APEC 2015 National Organizing Council, World Wildlife Fund, Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction and Asia Society and Urban Land Institute.
Launched last March during the 2nd Annual Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative Forum held in Manila, the search was aimed at getting city planners across the Philippines to be more aware and better prepared for disaster-risk reduction.

In the search, each competing city was required to come up with strategic vision and plan for a resilient and livable city and in developing an APEC meeting venue. City Mayor Noel Rosal said that with the help of the city chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines headed by its president Maridel Baldano, the city government came up with a strategic plan for a highly resilient and livable city featuring a safe and green environment aimed sustaining good public health which impressed the search judges.

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. According to Ravanilla, the Department of Trade and Industry, which is the lead agency in the preparations for Philippines’ hosting of the summit, is not mistaken in choosing Legazpi as one of the host cities as affirmed by the livable city award. (PNA)