Leonardia: ASEAN Meeting a Step in Right Direction

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia is grateful to the ASEAN leaders for choosing Bacolod to host the 15th meeting. He said, “this meeting among our Southeast Asian brothers is a step in the right direction. We realize that the way to the future is in partnerships with other nations, to meld our uniqueness with theirs, and share with the rest of the world what each of us has been blessed with.”

Presscon with Mayor Evelio Leonardia (left) with DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno at the opening of the 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials Responsible for Information (SOMRI) yesterday, March 22 at the SMX Bacolod.*(City PIO)

“In just over 10 years, we started campaigning for call centers to locate here. Now there are over 30 of them here, employing some 30,000 of our young people,” the Mayor said.

Some years back, a survey by the magazine Money Sense voted us the “Best Place to Live in the Philippines.“ The Commission on Information and Communications Technology said Bacolod was one of the top three Next Wave Cities of the country. Eventually, it was elevated as one of the 4 “Centers of Excellence for Informational Technology and Business Processing Management Operations”.

Likewise, our efforts had been encouraged by studies such as The Philippine Cities Competitive Ranking Project undertaken by the Asian Institute of Management which concluded that Bacolod was one of the “Most Competitive Cities of the Philippines”.

On top of all these, we were also once proclaimed by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the “Most Business-Friendly City” in the country.

“Today, with 10 delegations of ASEAN’s information officers gathered here in Bacolod, our city has the eyes of Southeast Asia upon it. We say thank you, and assure everyone we are ready to take the challenge of integration, the first order of which is to make sure our people are aware it is happening,” he said.

Leonardia also said, “I am proud to recall that, per our Department of Foreign Affairs, Bacolod was the first city in the Philippines to seek guidance on how we can participate as the Philippines aligns its development efforts to that of the rest of Southeast Asia. In mid-2016, long before in fact we learned that Bacolod will host an ASEAN meeting, I sat down with Ambassador Hellen de la Vega at the DFA ASEAN Desk to discuss the integration of our countries and see where Bacolod stands in the new realities that are coming because of it.

“I am aware that an integrated ASEAN will demand an unprecedented level of participation from our people; the time when we waited for opportunities to come knocking on our doors is gone. We now need to go, find those opportunities and make them work for our city. Our people will rise to the challenge,” Leonardia said.

“Amid the growth we are now enjoying, we realize that we cannot go it alone, that it is with the community of nations, of cities across the world that sustainable, equitable growth and development is possible.

“Bacolod has plenty to share. You will find in our city, not just unique places and structures – old churches and ancestral houses, resorts and beaches, farms and factories – but most importantly, a warm and smiling people who are always ready to welcome you. In fact, in the Philippines, we are known as the City of Smiles. We smile at friends and strangers. We smile at the blessings that come our way; and we smile even bigger at the problems that befall us,” he said.

Leonardia warmly welcomed the ASEAN delegates to the City of Smiles, Bacolod.*


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