Bacolod rebranded as ‘SEA City of Smiles’
BACOLOD CITY—Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia has rebranded this city as “Southeast Asia’s City of Smiles,” as he vowed they will keep in step with the integration of economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“I know there will be challenges as well as opportunities that the Asean integration will bring, and I assure everyone that our people will not be left behind, not in the process of integration and certainly not in ensuring we get a fair share of the opportunities as well,” Leonardia said when he welcomed delegates to the 15th Asean meeting of Senior Officials Responsible for Information held here recently.
The meeting drew about a hundred representatives from Asean countries.
Leonardia said while integration has risks, as change in general always does, Bacolod is ready to share its uniqueness with the rest of Southeast Asia.
In fact, the mayor recalled, Bacolod was the first local government unit to connect with the Department of Foreign Affairs to discuss how the city can actively participate in the process of the Asean integration, which will happen in due time.
“Amid the unprecedented growth we are now enjoying,” Leonardia said, “we realize that we cannot do it alone, that it is with the community of nations, of cities across the world, that sustainable, equitable growth and development is possible.”
The Asean meet ended on a high note, with DFA officials talking of another one to be held in Bacolod later this year, Leonardia said, as he congratulated the local organizing committee that helped managed the meeting.
In its assessment report, the Asean Security Task Force cited Leonardia for providing logistical support and for “tirelessly working in synergy with the local government to ensure security of delegates and achieve ‘zero incident.’”
ASTF commander Police Director Napoleon Taas said in his report, “What we witnessed here in the City of Smiles is a ‘whole of government’ cooperation working like never before.”
“Our successful handling of the meeting only bolsters our confidence that indeed, Bacolod is ready for the big things that globalization, especially with the Asean integration, will bring,” the mayor added.
Leonardia concluded that while Bacolod is the Philippines’ City of Smiles, after the Asean meet, henceforth it will be called “South East Asia’s City of Smiles.”