Olongapo, the trailblazer by People's Journal
Olongapo is considered by other local government units in the country as the trailblazer in coming up with innovative ideas to solve common urban problems. The city’s much lauded programs such as its integrated garbage collection system and color-coding scheme for jeepneys and tricycles, to cite only a few, have in fact been replicated in key cities nationwide.
It is no wonder then that Olongapo has been on the receiving end of numerous local and international awards and citations for excellence in local governance and responsible urban development. Already a Hall of Famer in the nationwide Search for the Cleanest and Greenest City and the KALASAG awards for Outstanding Disaster Management and Law Enforcement, the city again received recognition for scoring high marks in the 2009 Philippine Cities Competitive Ranking Project conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center and emerged as the Most Highly Competitive Mid-size City in the country.
For this feat, AIM recently accorded Olongapo, along with other high-ranking cities, special awards for best compliance with government-mandated plans, best documentation and most honest and transparent in its dealings. Capping all these, the city, under the leadership of Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr., was acknowledged as having the best quality of life among growth centers.
No mean feat indeed because it is the ultimate goal of every well-meaning leader to uplift the quality of life of his constituents and Gordon has all the reason to be elated for this achievement.
Mayor Gordon humbly attributes such accomplishment to the fusion of interrelated factors. Among these are: efficient delivery of basic services, infrastructure enhancement, human resources development, business-friendly policies, and transparency.
Gordon believes though that more than economic growth, what propelled Olongapo towards attaining a better quality of life is the attitudinal change in the people both in the private and government sector.
“Everybody is a stake holder here,” he says. It’s the total community involvement that’s behind the success of every program that the city government embarks on. The past crises that the city faced like the US bases pullout and Mt. Pinatubo eruption, for instance, had conditioned the minds of local residents to think of the common good. This collective positive attitude sustained by honest and transparent service by those in government served as the engine of change.”