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A new Tacloban rises in Eastern Visayas

By DAVID STA. MARIA
March 7, 2013

TACLOBAN CITY – This is not your grandfather’s Tacloban. Since the plebiscite in December of 2008 firming it up as a Highly Urbanized City, the Leyte capital has been on a solid track to progress. The Region 8 hub city, led by its mayor Alfred Francis Romualdez, is aggressive in showing that Tacloban and its locals are ready and serious about business.

The city has been ranked 4th by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in terms of deposit, hitting the P42B mark, as of last year, with various commercial banks present in the locality and continuously expanding their operations. The construction industry noted a building boom in the city, especially in its key locations for the past four years. Mayor Romualdez further stated in his address to the city, that these constructions and renovations are indicative of a growing interest in opening businesses in Tacloban. The city government reported a steady 1000 new businesses being registered and started annually since 2009, as the locals cope with the transition from a quiet town to the bustling regional center of commerce it aims to be.

Three state universities (University of the Philippines, Leyte Normal University and Eastern Visayas State University) have established full-functioning facilities and campuses within the city, providing a capable and competent work force for emerging businesses and industries.

Daily flights in and out of Tacloban is up to 13 and rises to as much as 17 flights on peak season, with the local attention shifting from tourism to business and investments.

A testament to the vibrancy of local commerce, retail activity has picked up. Retail giants Gaisano Malls and Robinson’s Malls have both seen the opportunities the city offers businesswise, and responded with the establishment of their own outlets in the City, Gaisano with 2 properties, and Robinson’s gearing to expand to another facility.

Local business people and chambers of commerce attribute the boost in development and progress largely to the administration of Romualdez, under whose leadership, City Hall services were optimized. This involved streamlining processes involving business registration, revenue collection, and back office efficiency issues.

Romualdez has taken aggressive steps, pushing for the development of Tacloban, including advocating its transition to HUC. This gave the city autonomy to create policies for itself, positioning it now as the region’s capital. Because of this, real estate has valuated after being pinned in its value for roughly 20 years.

Also uncommon, but key to the optimization of city services, is the city executive’s decision to stop taking on consultants for essential services. The city now hires full time professionals, such as doctors, ensuring cost efficiency for the city, and also guaranteeing services for the people whenever it is needed.

With a more streamlined City Hall, massive bank deposits and a prospect of booming business, Tacloban is poised to take the forefront in new businesses for the next few years.