A mayor like no other

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Rosalinda L. Orosa

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is the only Filipino mayor who, out of thousands of mayors in the world, has been nominated for the title “World Mayor.”

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In the 18th century, the Queen of England named Iloilo “Queen City of the South.”

Since the 2010 administration of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog began, and now entering its second term, he has proven his determination to retain and live up to the title. Because of this, he is the lone mayor in the Philippines to be among 25 finalists nominated for the title World Mayor, the final selection to be made by the City Mayors Foundation on January 15 in London.

The World Mayor Prize is awarded every two years to a mayor who has made “outstanding contributions to his/her community and has developed a vision for urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world.”

 iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog

iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog

There are countless reasons why Mayor Mabilog qualifies for these conditions and thereby deserves to be named World Mayor. Iloilo takes immense pride in its law and order and in its educational system, which annually produces 20,000 college graduates who speak good English. Its excellently maintained resorts, tourist sights, hotels and, not the least, age-old churches, attract an increasing number of tourists who are expected to reach a million this year.

Further, Iloilo is the Philippines’ food capital. Incidentally, the mangoes in the neighboring island of Guimaras are the country’s sweetest.

Nelly’s Garden, the fabulous mansion of Don Vicente Lopez, an awesome tourist site, serves as the venue for significant events like large weddings, social gatherings and civic affairs. Iloilo’s International Airport is the best international airport, by far in the Philippines, with daily flights to Hong Kong and Singapore. Tourists also come for the numerous spectacular festivals, many of them indigenous, with the natives in colorful, eye-fetchingly creative costumes such as those worn in the descriptive Eagle Festival. The largest, Dinagyang Festival, recipient of the Galing Pook Award, was re-enacted in New York City and in Washington, D.C. In 2009, the Dinagyang Festival entered the Hall of Fame as the best tourism event, having proven as a successful partnership and governance, collaboration and cooperation between government and its private sectors.

Iloilo held the International River Summit, which was attended by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Sen. Frank Drilon and several leading government officials. Iloilo’s river is the scene of yearly sailing contests. Its Paraw, the world’s largest regatta sailboat, has served as the model for sailboats in foreign countries.

The city promotes a smoke-free environment. During office hours, solar lighting sourced from huge windows, is used to save on electricity. The City Hall, one of the largest in the country, is the only “green” city hall. Its lobby’s gallery, open for free public viewing, contains treasures identifying the city’s culture, heritage, and treasures, which will be preserved for future generations.

Mabilog’s educational background and training inevitably led his administrative achievements as a mayor like no other.

After high school in the Visayas University of the Philippines, he earned an A.B. degree in Biological Sciences from the West Visayas State University. He proceeded to Harvard University to take part in Public Administration program, followed by a doctorate degree in Public Management from the Ateneo de Manila University, and a degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Visayas, Cebu.

What followed is Mabilog’s admirably successful governance, as councilor, then as vice mayor, and finally as mayor. The Iloilo City Investment and Incentive Code he authored made considerable impact on public welfare and national development, and on the city’s diverse economic activities.

As chairman of the Iloilo City Task Force on Economic Promotion, he strengthened public and private partnership, thus further promoting the city’s economy.

He gives tremendous inspiration and encouragement to the youth and the women of Iloilo—the former through his Annual Search for Outstanding Student Leaders, thus resulting in quality and community-oriented projects in and outside school; and the latter through his Annual Search for Outstanding Women to motivate women to excel in their respective fields.

The bi-annual Iloilo City Sari-Sari Storewomens Convention he initiated has immensely improved the relationship between product suppliers and sari-sari storeowners, thus encouraging greater competitiveness in small businesses. Further, the Ilonggo Trade Fair, likewise Mabilog’s project, highlights the products of micro business in the barangay level, leading the Ilonggos to patronize these products.

Education being a major concern of Mabilog, his JEDM (Journey Toward English Development for Mentors or 100 Hours English Proficiency Training for Teachers) raises their level of competence in the teaching of English.

The foregoing is but a partial enumeration of Mayor Mabilog’s innumerable services and the awards they have accrued. There are too many to include in one article. But at least three singular distinctions should be mentioned. As a candidate for councilor, Mabilog garnered over a hundred thousand votes, making history in the city. As a candidate for vice mayor, he got over 130,000 or a 93.6-percentmargin.

Mabilog is also Iloilo’s only Lions Club president during whose term the organization attained the status of second best Lions Club out of 45,000 clubs in 250 countries. His presidency also earned his chapter the 2009 Lions club International Proclamation of Everyday Hero awards.

The above distinctions are clearly the precursors of Mabilog’s nomination as the only Filipino mayor among 25 nominees chosen from thousands of mayors across the globe for the title.

The foregoing essay, which describes Mayor Mabilog’s achievements and the city’s attractions and activities, is drawn from a documentary DVD filmed and narrated by Hazel Andrea Stuart. Stuart, a British Embassy warden, has single-handedly produced over 75 documentary films on the Philippines, five of which have won International Communicator Awards, therefore bringing worldwide recognition to the Philippines.

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