More than a “city of smiles” – Manila Newsletter

BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine Chamber of Commerce (PCCI) has named this city as the most business-friendly local government unit for 2021 in the highly urbanized category. Mayor Evelio Ramos Leonardia accepted the award he received last month at the 47th Philippine Trade Show and Conference at the PCCI Innovation Center in Taguig City.

This distinction came 14 years after Bacolod won the same recognition in 2007, which has been a major factor in attracting local and foreign investment to the capital of the province of Negros Occidental. At that time, Leonardia was also the city’s mayor.

A clear manifestation of investor confidence is the opening of new hotels right here in the midst of the pandemic, such as the Park Inn by Radisson adjacent to SM City Bacolod in the recovery zone. The 150-room business hotel officially opened last week and complements SMX Bacolod, the Visayas’ largest seven-year-old exhibition and convention center.

On November 30, a pioneering book was unveiled to a bustling crowd at Ayala Malls Capitol Central. “Sugar & Smiles: The Negrense Legacy Beyond 2020” is a 320-page book published by an all-Negrense project team made up of co-editors Gen Tomas and Joey Montalvo, Project Director Benjie Torre, Marketing Director Tere Quebrar-Manalili, and myself as editor.

Despite quarantine closures over the past 20 months, we were able to produce the very first coffee table book on Negros Occidental and Bacolod City with 30 writers and creatives. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this collector’s item was donated to the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, founded in 2007 by Anna Claparols Balcells, primarily to save the abused and abandoned children of Negros.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiary, Balcells hopes “that through this book we will be reminded that the key to our future lies in the children who, as future citizens of Negrense, will forge their own path in ensuring that our legacy endures ”.

The main chapters of the book were written by historians Modesto Sa-onoy and Roque Hofileña; award-winning authors Dr Cecilia Locsin-Nava and Atty. Rayboy Pandan; social media influencers Atty. Eli Gatanela and Lloyd Tronco; Chiefs Richard Ynayan and Mia Lizares-Gonzaga; Christine Mansinares, regional director of tourism for the Western Visayas; and advertising director Nikki Golez.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson praised the project team for compiling these stories – which are not just about the sugar industry – into a book “which is now one of our province’s treasures.” He said he was surprised that “all the content was made in Negros” and that the actual production of the book was done in Talisay City by a local solar-powered company, Impress Quality Printing Philippines Inc.

Life in Bacolod has returned to normal, almost as before the pandemic. During the recent “Bayanihan Bakunahan” or National Immunization Days, the city administered 106% of its initial vaccination target, according to official data from the Regional Vaccination Operations Center of the Ministry of Health (DOH). In fact, it exceeded the DOH target for all Western Visayas on day one alone.

J. Albert Gamboa is a life member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine FINEX Digest and the monthly newsletter FINEX Focus. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin.



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