Wednesday, May 24, 2006

As Good As It Gets

In a recent survey conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center, two cities in Western Visayas garnered top honors in its “2005 City Competitiveness Survey: Pinoy Cities on the Rise.” It named Bacolod and Iloilo City as among the best mid-sized cities to live in, together with Batangas City, Iligan City and San Fernando City, Pampanga. Released last February 2006, the survey was funded by USAID and the Asia Foundation.

The study defined city competitiveness as “the ability of a city to create and maintain an environment that sustains more value creation for its enterprises and more prosperity for its people.” It identified 7 elements that contribute to a city’s competitiveness:

1. Linkages (access to airports & seaports, public transportation system)
2. Human Resources and Training (schools, hospitals)
3. Infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.)
4. Cost Competitiveness (low tax rates, cost of doing business, tax breaks and incentives)
5. Quality of Life (malls, theaters, restaurants, beaches, other recreational facilities)
6. Responsiveness of LGU (red tape, quality of local leadership, corruption)
7. Dynamism of Local Economy (employment, businesses)

The study rated Iloilo City no. 1 in terms of human resources and training, mainly due to the presence of numerous schools and universities in the area that offer good quality education at relatively low costs. Iloilo City was also ranked second over-all in the “dynamism of economy” criteria. Bacolod City was ranked no. 1 over-all in “quality of life” and “infrastructure” criteria. This means that Bacolod City has the best road/bridge network and that Bacolodnons know how to balance work with recreational activities. In other words, life in Bacolod and Iloilo City is as good as it gets if you live in the Philippines.

With the rising cost of living, some Ilonggos might raise their eyebrows in disbelief and disagree with the findings of AIM. But bear in mind that the AIM survey is limited to Philippine cities, and it does not include New York, Paris or London. And if you go back and examine closely the 7 elements that make a city work, you will find that indeed most of it are present in Bacolod and Iloilo City. Both cities have an airport, a seaport, good schools, good recreational facilities, good roads and good leaders. Although the economy of Bacolod is in the doldrums, Bacolodnons somehow still manage to enjoy life as the survey showed that they topped the “quality of life” criteria. Although Iloilo City periodically gets inundated by floods and brown-outs, its economy is still rated as one of the most dynamic and its educational institutions ranked as among the best in the country.

If you really think about it, one can live and die in Iloilo or Bacolod without having to leave the city. You can be born in one of its hospitals, study in one of its schools, find a job in one of its business establishments, go to Mambucal or Villa Beach for relaxation during weekends, marry in one of its churches and be buried in one of its memorial parks. Everything is just one jeepney ride away. Not all cities in the Philippines have all these conveniences located within their area. In Metro Manila for example, one can live in Mandaluyong but go to work in Makati or Pasig, go to school in Quezon City, catch a plane in Pasay and go to Tagaytay to relax. Life in a big city, whether here or abroad, is hectic and stressful. The way I see it, the condition in Bacolod and Iloilo City are just about right. Both already offer amenities that you can find in other urban centers but without the inconveniences usually associated with highly urbanized cities.

So the next time you curse your city and think about transferring to Manila or migrating abroad, think first of this survey and ask yourself this question: maybe this is as good as it gets?

1 comment:

Jules said...

i concur 100%!! life in bacolod and iloilo is a beach!

more articles!