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Friday, May 3, 2013

Queen City of the South, Cebu City, Philippines

Why Cebu gets the title ‘Queen City of the South?

FROM the beginning of the 19th century up until the advent of World War II, no other province in the south was as important historically and politically and as progressive as Iloilo.

With its sugar industry flourishing and many other divergent economic resources, Iloilo’s economy was catapulted to enormous heights. And with the American government pouring in enormous political and economic functions to the city, Iloilo became the second major seat of power during that time with all administrative functions channeling to the province and Manila only.

The “Queen City of the South” title was then made as its official recognition when Iloilo was legally declared a city for the second time by the virtue of the Commonwealth Act No. 158 in 1937.

For historical glimpse, the city was first created by a Royal Decree of Reina Cristina of Spain on October 5, 1889. Its Ayuntamiento city government was inaugurated on February 7, 1890 by General Valeriano Weyler.

By the end of the Japanese Occupation, however, Iloilo’s economy, life and infrastructure were damaged. The declining sugar economy, the deteriorating peace and order situation in the countryside, divisive politics and the exodus of Ilonggos to other cities and islands that offered better opportunities such as Manila, Bacolod and Cebu led to Iloilo’s demise in economic importance in southern Philippines.

From 1960s towards 1990s, Iloilo’s economy progressed in a moderate pace.

The economic momentum thence angled off to its neighbor Cebu City, which, until 1937, had never been more than a town since its original founding in 1565.

Like greased lightning, this oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country swiftly transmogrified into the second largest city in the Philippines, the second most significant metropolitan centre in the Philippines.

No city in the south progressed as much as Cebu in so short a time during this period.
By the time the 80s drew to a close, growth has spread to the countryside.

Indeed, a lot of this development and the economic expansion can be credited to the way the province and its capital city are governed by its local officials.

The public administrators of Cebu have been known to be development-oriented, steering Cebu to greater heights by putting in place infrastructure facilities needed for economic growth.
The Osmenas are prime examples, particularly Serge, Lito, Tomas, and Sonny. It was during their watch that Cebu experienced economic boom.

In many places, powerful politicians dictate their terms and faithful adherence to their plans and programs.

But in Cebu, political leaders upon assumption to their respective offices, work for the benefit of their constituents. It is because from hereon, partisanship has no place in the hallowed halls of the capitol.

They function to serve the needs of their people. As far as they are concerned, in terms of economic development, there is no formally declared association with a political party affiliation — at least until the next election cycle.

It was only a matter of time before Cebu came to be recognized as the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port and home to about 80 percent of the country’s domestic shipping companies.

The province also holds the second largest international flights in the Philippines and is a significant center of commerce, trade and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Most importantly, Cebu ranks number one because of the current unity that has never been seen before in any province — unity among elected officials, unity among business groups, unity among its people, and unity between the private and public sectors.

Seeing it in another way—this regionalistic attitude, whatever negative connotation it brings, paved the way for Cebu’s progress.

Indeed, it is an accepted fact that Cebuanos are intensely regionalistic. They also are a very proud people.

For the Cebuanos, this only means they are very proud of their craft and culture.

They think highly of themselves and show this by “loving their own,” which explains the refusal to speak Tagalog.

You see, Cebuanos insist on speaking in their native tongue to just about anyone, except foreigners, of course. If someone from the National Capital Region speaks to them in Tagalog, they would rather reply in English than speak Tagalog. 

But then again, proponents of regionalism say that strengthening a region’s governing bodies and political powers within a larger country would create efficiencies of scale to the region, promote decentralization, develop a more rational allocation of the region’s resources for benefit of the local populations, increase the efficient implementation of local plans, raise competitiveness levels among the regions and ultimately the whole country and save taxpayers money.

Overall, Cebu continues to excel and investors are drawn to Cebu because of the culture of professionalism and craftsmanship among its people, the vast highly skilled manpower resources resilient amid trying times, its fair weather, relative peace and business-friendly atmosphere.

Thus, Cebu being what it is today, is a triumph in local governance that led to a progressive and vibrant community. It could safely assume the de facto moniker as the “Queen City of the South.”

Without fear of contradiction and without malice, we doubt if Iloilo could retake this lost honor.
The public is already accustomed to the notion that Cebu rightfully deserves the prestigious title better than Iloilo.

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