[Editorial] Lipa: My city, my pride

 

The City of Lipa is Batangas province’s new wonder. Look at how Ayala Avenue had changed much over the years: The “oldies” are Chowking, McDonald’s, Red Ribbon, Starbucks. New ones, at least on the Big Ben side, are KFC, Tokyo Tokyo and a new building for the born-again church group Victory.

The street barriers fronting the Big Ben have truly signaled the end of jaywalking. Traffic then is the new normal in this urban dwelling place. That’s even if the old bus terminal in Ayala Avenue is now a KFC seat and a long walkway. SM Lipa gained, housing the new gateway for buses plying Manila, nearby Batangas areas and neighboring Calabarzon provinces –a more efficient hub for such mode of transport.

(photo from the Facebook page of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo from the Facebook page of Lipa City Philippines)

But there’s traffic elsewhere in the city. And people have been aghast over it. The same with how household trash remains uncollected for days.

These are signs of Filipino urbanization outside of the leading Philippine highly-urbanized cities.  Even the industry group in the business process outsourcing sector had made Lipa one of the “next frontier” cities. Local tourism still leaves much to be desired; but once promoted, Lipa City is a cosmopolitan Filipino’s delight –from traditional local sights (public market, plaza, church) to hidden tourist spots to food stops (hotel rooms may not be enough though).  The city and its 72 barangays, while local subdivisions are scattered around, is quietly seeing some property development trends. Like having the first medium-rise condominium, or the entry here of leading names in the real property industry.

And residents of the densely-populated National Capital Region, especially those owning vehicles, may find Lipa City an easy ride, an alternative destination.

These current developments have made Lipa the most populated locality in Batangas province (est. 305,000-plus residents). And typical of how urbanization works, there are outcomes good and bad: growing local entrepreneurship, criminality, vehicular gridlock, local taxation, among others. Old-timers in the city may not recognize the neighbors around; the surnames alone can give indications if people have come from the Lipa of old.

So today’s Lipa is the modern-day version of the once-richest city in the Philippines in the 1800s due to the economic vitality of coffee. There’s still lomi and kapeng barako, but so are medium-to-high-end Filipino restaurants like Mesa and Kuya J’s.

Some 12 years ago, the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) did an economic analysis of Lipa City as then the “emerging city.” More than a decade hence, Lipa City’s economically vibrant. It is the province’s new magnet for a better livelihood. On one hand, this augurs well for residents and local leaders. On the other hand, they all have their work cut out.

Because urbanization is always never easy to handle. Urban planning is itself a skill that must be executed with care. How will local electricity supply hold up to growing demand? How to plan for the lands to be used for commercial, residential and agricultural purposes? How to chase taxpayers, including those who go under the radar?

And since Filipinos from the provinces are clinging to their traditional values, local residents’ care and concern for their birthplace is the next test. Such local care and concern even has an economic motive: people want efficiency. If local capitalism were to boom further, the systems in place will have to be more efficient. For now, if Lipa City’s local economic competitiveness were to be gauged, the situation is not yet enough (Lipa is ranked only 83rd among all cities in the Philippine government’s 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index).

Nevertheless, there’s something to start off for Lipa City to aspire for better days. There are policy measures that may need careful scrutiny by the city council, and a sustained watch by citizens. There may be local practices  warranting improvement, like resisting the temptation to jaywalk on major thoroughfares or charging the right tricycle fares. Local services may have to be made better through new approaches, like garbage collection.

Lipeños have reasons to celebrate economically as of late. Their city is their pride, with these recent economic developments being blessings perhaps interceded for them by residents’ Catholic patron, San Sebastian. A city-wide fiesta last January 20 paraded local pomp and color, expressions of happiness for gleeful city residents clinging to old values and managing new influences.

Today’s Lipa is Batangas’ economic pride. Aspiring, working, persevering for more efficient local capitalism will help make urbanization here hopefully a delightful one.

 

(photo Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo  Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

(photo by Peejay Cueto of Lipa City Philippines)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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