By: Ronie Ticaya
WAS Iloilo left out by the Duterte administration? In terms of infra development projects Iloilo seems a distant last compared to other urban cities of the country.
Some reports say that the construction of the Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros bridge might start next year. That is good news because that project is highly necessary. But until we see its actual construction, for now, let that be a pipe dream to Ilonggos.
In neighboring Cebu right now, they are building bridges and highways left and right. In Davao, there have been reports that the construction of Mindanao rail will kick off next year. In Luzon, there are numerous key infra projects that I, as an Ilonggo myself, cannot help but feel envious. Where has the government’s love for Iloilo gone?
Or have we done something wrong?
There has been silly chatter about Iloilo being pampered with infra projects during PNoy’s term. If the grapevine is correct, then, thank you PNoy, for the love. Also, thank you to the boys of PNoy for being instrumental in making Iloilo a better place. With the two key road projects realized during his term — circumferential and bypass road — two new areas of economic growth were also unlocked. It used to be in-city developments only. Now, future developments can go outside of the city.
The problem with Iloilo is that during the 90s and the early 2000s, it seems like the city and the province were trapped in a proverbial decrepit infrastructure state. While the neighboring cities strive to become better in terms of its infrastructure and local economy, we debate local politics instead.
That was a forgettable period of economic dozing and neglect. Local politics though continue to arrest headlines, like it’s the most important thing. It was a pestering reality. Both an irritant and a pollutant to Iloilo’s progress. As other regions were racing towards economic prosperity, we appear clueless on the other hand. There is no sense of direction.
I blame it to the fact that maybe we do not have a visionary leader then?
When the new international airport was opened in Cabatuan in 2007, those in the business community, I surmise, might have been jumping for joy because finally, our local leaders were doing it right. With the airports’ capacity to accommodate more than a million passengers annually that is good news to Iloilo’s stale economy and dying tourism industry.
But Iloilo’s real transformation as an economic hub was again renewed when Megaworld Corporation transformed the old Iloilo airport site into a mixed-use development center. Its economic impact was immense. As floodgates of new business opportunities opened up on a scale never before seen by Gen. X and the Millennials.
Megaworld’s artisanal take of its massive 72-hectare township spawns a contagious act. On a lesser scale, Ayala joined the wagon with its own development called the Atria Park District. SM also began adding complementing components to what it used to be retail-centric developments only.
Iloilo, suddenly, is in a rejuvenating mode. After being almost economically dead a corrective course of action was taking shape. Hibernation is all over with telltale signs that it is within trajectory to regain its old economic place in the world.
It’s thriving and the Ilonggos are ecstatic. They love it. To supplement the investment of the private sector, through the efforts of Senator Drilon, Iloilo was, in parallel, was on a building frenzy as well. Some of it purely aesthetics like the esplanade, though I’m not entirely downplaying its economic and tourism impact.