“When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor.” Lyndon B. Johnson
By Alex P. Vidal
As Ilonggos and residents of Iloilo City, we are proud that Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is among the 25 finalists for World Mayor 2014, a biennial award organized by the City Mayors Foundation since 2004.
Mabilog is one of the only six finalists from Asia. No other mayor from the Philippines has made it to the finals, except him. The mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia is the only other finalist from Southeast Asia.
Europe has the most number of finalists at 8. North America and Latin America have four finalists apiece. Africa has two and Australia has one.
No other Iloilo City mayor has reached this far in as far as international recognition and achievement for a local chief executive is concerned.
Iloilo City has been blessed with a lot of outstanding and world class mayors in the past in the persons of Jose Gay, Matias Ybiernas, Rosauro Jocson, Quirino Abeto, Euologio Garganera, Serapion Torre, Vicente Ybiernas, Mariano Benedicto, Fernando Lopez, Rafael Jalandoni, Juan Borja, Dominador Jover, Reinerio Ticao, Francisco Garganera, Rodolfo T. Ganzon, Zafiro Ledesma, Antonio Hechanova, Mansueto Malabor, and Rep. Jerry Trenas.
None of them, however, has made it to the same global stage, where the opportunity to be known worldwide, to hammer out a chance to attract investors and showcase the city’s potentials, are within reach.
We are not saying that Mabilog is better than his predecessors. Most of the illustrious names we just mentioned, in fact, were some of the greatest leaders in the country if not in the entire Asia during their time.
Their difference is Mabilog happens to belong to the new spectrum of young and dynamic leaders in the new age where cultural, educational, tourism, political, scientific, economic and technological activities in the world are interconnected and interrelated.
He reigns and manages this metropolis in the era where all cities, boundaries, provinces, prefectures, states and territories in the world are bunched in a global village through the power and influence of modern technology and progressive diplomatic relations.
Mabilog deserves the support of the entire Ilonggo populace in this race. We don’t send to the finals of World Mayor our city mayor every day. Regardless of political affiliations and internal issues, Ilonggos should solidly rally behind Mabilog in his quest to outwit the 24 other finalists. His pride is also our pride. His success is also our success. His failure is also our failure.
When we visit other cities here and abroad in the future, we would be proud to admit that we belong in the “City of Love”, and our mayor was once upon a time among the 25 finalists in the World Mayor. By his being a finalist is already, in fact, a victory for the Ilonggos, as it would place the city on the map and spur our economic life once investors start to Google our city and connect with our business leaders.
Support for a local leader vying for an international recognition is not a new undertaking. It happened in other cities in the past, it is happening, and it will happen in the future.
When we were in Surrey, British Columbia in 2010, we saw how constituents of Mayor Dianne Watts supported her all the way when she was picked as one of the finalists in the contest that year.
Watts’ political enemies and critics in media set aside their animosity and agreed to hold a ceasefire to support the lady mayor. It was a gallant display of camaraderie and solidarity among the people of Surrey for the common good of the “City of Parks.”
According to the world mayor website, the City Mayors board of fellows will choose the winner and two runner-ups based on the number of email votes received and the strength and passion of supporting testimonials.
“The organizers believe that the persuasiveness of argument is as important as the number of votes. This ensures that a ‘good’ mayor from a smaller city can compete on equal terms with a mayor from a large metropolis. All 25 shortlisted mayors will be asked to agree to the City Mayors’ Code of Ethics,” explained the website.
We know what to do now.