Catbalogan City is considered as one of the youngest city in the Philippines after it was declared as a city last 2007, and little we know that Catbalogan City, the capital city of Samar province was chosen by foreign delegates of United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) to host their intentional annual event.
UCLG ASPAC is a worldwide association of local government organizations that dates back to 1913. It is the only local government organization recognized by our United Nations. Members of UCLG ASPAC work together and promote the cooperation between governments and within the wider international community in the ASPAC region. Their head office is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and with they have 7,000 members from the local government unit that came from 20 countries.
Members of the UCLG ASPAC know that Catbalogan City is a new and small city, they didn’t mind about the city’s asset and how they can organize a 4 days executive beaureu and conference, this became a challenge for the Catbalogan mayor to organize it with the city’s people and private sector to work together to showcase what Catbalogan City can offer to the world.
This year’s theme – Kauswagan Kalibutan: Creating Connections for Sustainable Societies was attended by 100 foreign delegates from 19 countries – China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Betio Kiribati and Maldives.
The conference seeks to gather commitment of different sectors of participating countries through declarations, workable actions, policy proposals and sustainable programs in issues related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), new urban agenda, local economic development and sustainable development.
Catabalogan City is a member of UCLG ASPAC for two years and the committee of the UCLG saw that the city is committed to be a sustainable society that why they elected Catbalogan City with majority votes as this year's host for the conference.
According to Catbalogan Mayor Stephanie Uy-Tan – “Catbalogan City is a new city, there's no structure yet that are ready for the conference, but I talked to the private sector how we can do it, and this venue we have today is very new and opened just in time for the conference. The planning started late last year, and before I said yes, I really need to count the assets what we can offer, then I said yes when I found out that we can actually do it.
The private sector is a bit hesitant because this is the first time that Catbalogan City will host an international event, and then after learning the advantage and benefit of hosting this event, the private sector agreed to help and support the UCLG ASPAC conference
Catbalogan City will show its credibility, the commitment that we are saying, is not all talks, but we're walking the talk, because sometimes people think of that the LGU and its public officials are just pure talks and no actions, but here it shows how we are serious and committed here in Catbalogan City to be part of the world.
Catbalogan City declaration is about sustainable society, sustainable development goal, new urban agenda, economical development and disaster risk reduction”
UCLG ASPAC Co-President Emil Elistianto Dardak, Mayor of Trenggalek Regency, Indonesia said that “UCLG faces common issues that we encounter and learn the urgent needs to be fulfilled, like issues - enhancing local development, issues of financing basic infrastructure and allocation, making sure the quality and there's inclusive development, making sure that nothing is left behind, we are now in Catbalogan City, we are a part of a city of system and the issue of urban development is not just a issue of a big metropolis but also an issue for small cities. urban areas are basically purging, most of the population in the world are living in urban areas
Catbalogan City's warm welcome and the spirit of the city helped us what we can learn about the Philippines, of being fun and have happiness. the spirit of togetherness at UCLG, the united spirit we have will be fostered even further with this meeting we have today and tomorrow, we hope that we strengthen our collaboration and partnership, which is the sustainable economic goals.
This is a very strategic event, UCLG builds upon that, we make our commitment there a reality, so in the level of an issue in ASPAC,we gather in this executive beaureu meeting, local government leaders talking after the urban agendas late last year, what are we going to do? how do we move forward ? those are the things we call them as the Catbalogan Declaration, we will agree what we are going to do and until we meet again next year, because every day, week and years matter for our people, and the sooner we do, and agree what we do is for the better for our people”
“This is the first event organized by UCLG here in Catbalogan City, and this is the 1st international event for the city. We don't just promote the big mega cities but also we promote small-medium cities like Catbalogan City, most delegates came here for the 1st time and it gave us an interesting flavor how small or large the city, so we have here more than 120 foreign delegates members of UCLG ASPAC and we also have 300 people from the local government.” According to UCLG ASPAC Sec. General Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi.
Blogger’s note – Its my first time here in Catbalogan City, The city, yes its small but they offer a lot already, the are so far from Tacloban Airport and that’s the 2nd option and fastest way to reach Catbalogan City, Samar. Its easy to fall in love with the city, because it resembles like an old Manila and felt that I was transported back to the year 80s. It was a short stay but I promised to go back there to embrace more the city and learn more about its history and also tourism.
Here’s my interview with Catbalogan Mayor Stephanie Uy-Tan about their hosting for the UCLG conference.
Blogger: “Mayor Stephanie, What have you learned and experienced after joining the UCLG that can help and benefit the City of Catbalogan?”
Mayor Stephanie: “As a mayor we always want our city to be more developed, to have big infrastructure, investors, players from the national government or international government or international partners. One of the events that I was able to attend is the local economic development. When we want more development in our city, it doesnt mean we need big players only, we need to consider the local economy, our people, our constituents, we might be inviting a lot of investors, but we are trying to deprive the small ones, our economy, our people, so by attending that conference, I was able to commit to myself that i will do myself that the local economy of Catbalogan will not phase out or will not end because of the big players or because of over development. One more is about the public space,
Before, we tried to maximize the use of our space, but when I visited a lot of cities, small or big cities, I realized specially the developed ones, and realized after the developments, yes you get more money, yes you got more people, but you don't have space to be happy, to live and cool down, to feel what really life means, so now even if I want to be a small developed city, in the province, in the region, in the eastern Visayas in the Philippines, I still value urban public space, that's why we are now rehabilitating the public spaces in Catbalogan City, as you can see, the Pieta Park, the commemoration of Asia's biggest sea tragedy, bigger than the Titanic, and also the Parola, the light house of Catbalogan, its really old but we tried to rehabilitate it and let the people specially it for the new generation to know the history of Catbalogan and also we are rehabilitating the Antiao river, beside the Sun river walk.
Blogger: “Is there a country in the UCLG that inspired you to push this mission”
Mayor Stephanie: “First I became a member because I met Ms Bernadia in one of my speaking engagement in Sendai, it was a disaster risk reduction framework of UN. I was there and one of the speakers in the round table discussions and they never mentioned about Ms Bernadia and she approached me and we talked about the government, how it work, how hard to have women in the government, and its an issue til now and then she invited me to become a member. Actually the inspiration is Ms Bernadia and its not the country and not a city, its her and her advocacy and how to empower women, like I see myself as one, and after that, I have visited lots of cities like Singapore, there I learned that they don't have a happiness index, but I'm happy I met Mr. Emil from the happiest city on earth, and then the next is Seoul, South Korea,I visited their river, few years back, and I learned that on 1960, Seoul is like Catbalogan, you see the difference and the gap, and their river back then is terrible, what they did after 10 years, they put up a road in the river, and then development came in, and after realizing its not all about infrastructure and this is about public space and connecting close to nature, so what they did is to destroy the road and open again the river for the people, you see how nature is important, its not about development or infrastructure, its all about making our people happy, comfortable and prosperous.”
me and Mayor Stephanie