Not having been out of town for a while and visiting a city in the Bicol region for the first time, for a seminar conducted by the Personnel Officers Association of the Philippines, Inc.,left a most satisfying impression for this writer. Preparing for the seminar with a little online research led to the discovery that Legazpi City in the province of Albay, the selected venue, is a first class component city and the capital of the province.

It lies mostly on the southeastern part of the island of Luzon and based on the latest census has a
population of of about 209,000 plus occupying a land area of 153.70 square kilometers or roughly three times the size of the City of Baguio. It also came as a pleasant surprise to learn that Legazpi City is considered as a major economic hub in the Bicol Region with wide ranging economic activities such as – apart from agriculture – mining, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, ICT-BPO business and its burgeoning tourism industry, the latter of course gravitating towards one of the premier attractions of the province, the Mayon volcano.

But what really grabbed the attention of this writer is the fact that despite being a component city,
although the first among its class having been ranked first overall among component cities in 2018 by the National Competitiveness Council, it has actually made enormous strides in planning, organizing, structuring and developing its status as a successful local government unit. To validate
this we were able to obtain a short interview with the current mayor of Legazpi City Honorable Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal before we departed the city.

This very accommodating and unassuming chief executive of Legazpi City, the better half of former mayor and former Governor Noel Rosal, and despite her very hectic schedule, offered insights and clarification o, as well as straightforward answers on how, through her leadership, she was able to successfully steer her city into what it is now, a bustling community teeming with potential and

Under her stewardship and that of her spouse former mayor Noel Rosal we came to learn that Legazpi city is again on the cusp of achieving for the sixth time an Seal of Good Local Governance or SGLG. This is the highest recognition and the most prestigious award given to local governments for their superb excellence and performance in the delivery of public service. To be awarded for the sixth time with such an award bares the outstanding leadership qualities shown by Mayor Rosal and the commitment to do justice as an elected servant-leader of the community.

In the area of collaboration with national government partners Mayor Rosal revealed that in
representing the city she entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) as well as Pag-Ibig Home Development Mutual Fund and a developer for the putting up of socialized housing settlements in the city in
compliance with the mandate from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, and that a suitable site has already been identified and prepared for the said project.

The signing of the MOA was accomplished on September 29, 2023 and on the day this writer was waiting at the lobby of her office for the opportunity of interviewing her. What also caught out attention was the fact that during our short tour of the city itself we noticed a surprising amount of
development that speaks of a meticulous, organized and systematic scheme to move forward in an orderly fashion. Foremost among our observations include an efficient traffic management system in place where both private and public vehicles seem to go about their travels in a most disciplined manner, giving way or slowing down when required without need of a traffic policeman to whistle their attention.

We found it curious that during our five day stay in the city we only saw about three to four policemen who were not even directing traffic but going about on other errands or duties. We asked the mayor about this lack of police visibility and she admitted that her city needs additional policemen and that she has already reported and made a request to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for augmentation. She further bared that at the moment the city is relying on traffic enforcers from their very own Public Safety Office (PSO) to manage the traffic flow particularly in the center of the city.

On the matter of airport development, in relation to its bustling tourism industry and as a further boost to its economy, Mayor Rosal said that they have already made requests for coming up with additional airplane routes but admitted that the decision for the expanded operation of the International Airport of Legazpi will be up to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. With respect to their SMART City project she disclosed that they hired a consultant to take a look at their
existing IT infrastructure and platforms to better arm themselves with accurate information in the development of their technological capabilities.

Finally, with the status of Mayon volcano still on alert level three Mayor Rosal confimed that constant and close monitoring is being done and emergency measures are in place for any eventuality. But as far as first impressions go Legazpi City is absolutely fantastic offering a laidback,
relax and seemingly nonchalant attitude as well as great food, clean surroundings and superb
hospitality that makes you forget the peril of being in close proximity to a restive but beautiful volcano.

Amianan Balita Ngayon