“No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.”
NEW YORK CITY — Critics ribbed the late former Iloilo City mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon and former mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor for being “barriotic mayors” because they never attended a single international conference for city mayors during their administrations in the 90s.
Ganzon, of course, traveled a lot outside the Philippines when he was a senator from 1963 to 1969 as part of his legislative mandate.
Being “barriotic mayors”, as we very well know, did not diminish their effectiveness as public servants.
Even without any junket abroad, both Ganzon and Malabor were hands-on leaders who never had any deficiency in the services they rendered for Iloilo City.
Ganzon and Malabor may not have yielded to the increasing and growing demands of the climate of global synergy during their terms, but they were holed up in giving priority and attention to the more practical and immediate social concerns of their constituents in the barangays.
Iloilo City mayors started to expand their political, cultural and economic horizons internationally starting when Jerry P. Treñas served as the city mayor for three consecutive terms from 2001 to 2010.
As the national president of League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) during the term of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Treñas became a globetrotter.
He racked up more than a dozen foreign trips, all in relation to his mandate as the local chief executive of Iloilo City and as the LCP boss.
When Jed Patrick Mabilog took over as city mayor in 2011, he also circumnavigated the globe in relation to his job as a father of Iloilo City like Treñas; Mabilog even landed as the No. 5 in World Mayor 2014.
Following their footsteps today is incumbent Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, who have already gone to the United States for the Iloilo Trade Mission in June and in Singapore for the World Cities Summit in July this year in only nine months since he became the city mayor.
Mayor Joe III is expected to crisscross the sky some more for the future international conferences before and after the 2019 elections, if he wins.
As part of the global village in this age of social media, cyberspace and globalization, our mayors or other local officials for that matter, should travel or accept invitations to go abroad, once in a while, and connect with the rest of the world or be left behind.
Interacting with foreign counterparts and actively participating in floor discussions and policy making deliberations in the summits is tantamount to upgrading their leadership skills and solidifying the selling points of the city that they represent.
There are major conferences calendared annually that seriously tackle bilateral modernization plans, trade packages, exchange programs, long-term infrastructure grants; paradigm shifts in environment, health, economic, tourism, education, culture, and related concerns that need the physical attendance of city mayors and not necessarily the attendance of heads of state or presidents.