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Daddy Joe’s Yearbook

2020 came with lots of nice surprises, especially the first week which I traditionally devote to general cleaning of the house and office. It is more about digging into very old stuff and memorabilias and getting rid of things that haven’t been of use but occupy space.

One of my precious finds is my Daddy Joe’s Elementary Yearbook. I found a very old yearbook of School Year 1955-56 of La Consolacion College (LCC) in Bacolod City. The school stands right in the heart of the city, almost occupying a whole block flanked by Rizal, Galo, Gatuslao and San Juan Streets.

1956 Yearbook of La Consolacion College

The initial pages of the yearbook showed the image of Our Lady of La Consolacion, the patron of the school and a dedication page to Saint Augustine, the Father of the Augustinian Order.

First page of the yearbook
Second Page of the Yearbook

My father Jose Batapa graduated from elementary in 1956 (School Year 1955-56) at the La Consolacion College (LCC) in Bacolod City. Now this sets the record straight. He did much better than I did in elementary since he was 1st Honorable Mention. I only got Fourth Honorable Mention in elementary and Fourth Honor in High School. Not to justify my feat, but I think I spent more time in extra-curricular activities and volunteering for leadership positions as far as I can remember. But then again, I am sure I simply got my leadership streak from Daddy Joe or Sandy as he was called by my grandparents, Jaime Batapa, Sr. and Pacita Rull.

Daddy Joe or Sandy Batapa at the age of 12

Also in the yearbook is a very young image of Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich, one of the most brilliant church leaders of Bacolod. Find more details about Bishop Fortich in this link –

Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich

The Bishop of Bacolod at that time was Monsignor Manuel Yap. The yearbook showed his one spread message. Find more details about Bishop Yap in this link –

Now saving the best for last. After years of listening to Daddy Joe saying she was in the same campus with this iconic lady – I finally saw concrete evidence. I am so ecstatic to see a picture of a famous Philippine actress and for me, one of the loveliest faces in the Philippine film industry – Susan Roces – in the same yearbook with my father! So instead of just posting on Facebook, I spared time to make this article. There is a whole spread of her with all her classmates who were graduating from high school during that year but I opted to only take a picture of her since the rest are private citizens. Well, I think Philippine actresses like Susan Roces are public figures.

I am sharing this beautiful photo of a 15-year old Susan, who was born on July 28, 1941. Her real name as appearing in the yearbook is Jesusa Levy Sonora. Wikipedia says she was born to a French American mother of Jewish descent and a mestizo father of Spanish and Chinese descent. Just imagine the complex combination to have produced such a lovely Bacolodnon and Negrense.

Her dream was to be a successful dramatist and today she holds the title of Queen of Philippine Movies!!! Inspiring life!

The other details about Susan Roces can be read in these links:

Pictures bridge time. Memories we leave behind are precious indeed. We owe to cherish them.

As we begin 2020, I am glad to see my 12 year old Daddy Joe as I am glad to see a teenager queen of Philippine movies. And just a wishful thinking, someday – I wish for someone to open my elementary year book and remember me too.

The picture below shows the 1956 facade of the school. The insitution’s facade have been lovingly preserved. 2019 was marked as the 100th year of La Consolacion College. Happy Centennial Year!

As we enter the new decade, let us look back to decades past with fondness and gratitude. Happy New Year!

As requested by friends, I am also posting the pages showing the faculty members for 1955-56.

Bacolod Vision 2020

The new year is a start of a new decade and 2020 has nice ring to it. 20/20 stands for normal visual acuity or the clarity or sharpness of vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. According to the American Optometric Society, having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance. Yet a vision that spans the current year is good enough. With the very fast pace technology is moving and disrupting how we do things, even just a ten-year plan would be good enough for any visionary leader to nurture. I dream of a Vision 2020 or a list of ten items I wish to see for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.

First, a fully integrated waste facility complex that completely supports the “zero-waste” aspiration of our laws. It shall have waste-to-energy or waste conversion technologies that reduce waste products and convert them instead to useful items. I wish to see a “mall-like” buyback center that transforms scavengers to waste sorters and allow them decent income and creates a conducive ecosystem for the city’s landfill, recyclers, and corporate waste program managers, especially those producing large volume of waste or hazardous waste, to work together to reduce waste and lower waste collection budget of the city and allow us to fully comply with laws on solid waste management. This can only happen when we understand that we, myself included, are all committing a crime against our environment and future generations if we continue to tolerate the concept of a “dumpsite” which is already unlawful since 2005.

Second, a comprehensive business environment solution that consolidates all transactions with the city government as well as national government agencies operating in the city compliant to the prescribed periods under the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Law, especially the issuance of business permits and other licenses. The system must migrate almost all transactions to digital and approximate “zero-contact” policy to drastically reduce graft and corrupt practices. This would entail using a variety of payment gateways to afford end-users and consumers the option of paying digitally. I dream to see the salient features of the Republic No. 11032 under a highly disseminated and understood revised Citizen’s Charter that operates as a source of right for citizens to hold the local government accountable for non-compliance as the law envisions. This development although now mandatory can only happen with an enlightened citizenry that understands that “red tape” is not at all excusable.

Third, an integrated smart city system that encourages and puts in place full and active citizens engagement in all concerns such as traffic, street lighting, job and investments, healthcare and environment. This happens when government is “open” to hear crowd-sourced solutions just like what I learned in Taiwan and other countries practicing open government. Barangays need to be at the forefront in assisting the city to achieve its targets with the use of both barangay and city resources. I envision a city that actively assists barangays to raise revenues so it can sufficiently attend to its own concerns, such as in peace and order, transportation, health care and other social services.       

Fourth, the opening of new tourism niche markets for the city beyond just the promotion of the annual Masskara Festival but also leveraging on the latter. The festival mentality is ideal only when there are key performance indicators such as specific increase in the number of foreign and local visitors, sustained increase in sales of local products (aside from China-made), higher income for local establishment owners and small and medium enterprises and more awareness of business potential of the city. This initiative would not easily happen without a holistic approach on the part of all local government units in Negros Occidental including Bacolod and the provincial government. The key word today is collaboration rather than competition

Fifth, business data and analytics that will create a more intelligent business ecosystem to elicit the full trust and confidence of potential investors. There are so many areas we can open up both for public and private investments. I am looking at state-of-the-art logistics, incubation, design and packaging centers for small and medium enterprises. The Tatak Pinoy vision of Senator Sonny Angara currently puts an emphasis on helping support Filipino products and promoting the Filipino brand. I will write more about this policy support in future columns.

Sixth, a 24/7 security and safety program to ensure peace and order in the city. I have seen samples of command centers designed by big information technology (IT) companies over the years but we do not really need to spend much to achieve a safe and peaceful community. We need to create intelligent systems that will allow citizens to help and prevent criminalities in the city. In some hackathons I have witnessed, young kids design mobile-based systems to help in law enforcement and even in rescue operations. If we can tap our startup community, we will surely have a lot of ideas to use.

Seventh, a long-term plan to ensure sustainable and potable water supply for our city that requires the cooperation of other local government units. Total privatization of water operations is definitely not an option. Supply and other parts of operation that do not deprive the people of controlling natural resources can be outsourced to conscientious and square-dealing private companies but to privatize the whole water management is not ideal, and simply an easy way out for leaders with tunnel vision.

Eighth, concrete sectoral engagement for major sectors such as the out-of-school-youth (OSYs), senior citizens and retirees and persons with disabilities (PWD) especially in empowering them to seek and implement solutions on their own for their respective concerns and needs. Some examples are specialized career centers for PWDs and OSYs, health and wellness centers for senior citizens and retirees.

Ninth, a holistic set of programs to build and promote Bacolod as a City of the Arts and support the creative economy. The United Nations has proclaimed 2020 as the Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. The Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with stakeholders have forged a creative roadmap for the Philippines which envisions that “by 2030, the Philippines will be the number one Creative Economy in ASEAN in terms of size and value of our creative industries, as well as the competitiveness and attractiveness of our creative talent and content in international markets.” The scope includes six cultural domains, namely: cultural and natural heritage; performance and celebration; visual arts and artisan products; books and press; audio-visual, broadcast and interactive media; and creative services. Other related domains include tourism, and sports and recreation. Bacolod and Negros Occidental need to be part of this.

Tenth, an intensive talent development and skills training program for Bacolod and Negros Occidental. I have always been a federalist since college and therefore today, I still wish we can run our own innovative programs as a separate island from the Philippines if it is just too hard to get the buy in of our national government. There are at least two things I would like to see happen- if not in this country but in the city at least. First, just like the European model, a digital competence citizen framework that creates a comprehensive standard for all citizens in the city to gauge their digital skills and knowledge according to their respective levels so that it becomes easier to design and develop training  efforts to skill, upskill and re-skill Bacolodnons. Second, a quality apprenticeship program patterned after other countries, where graduates are able to expose themselves to one to four years of remunerated training work to learn the necessary skills and earn the relevant certifications specifically denominating those acquired skills.

Happy new year to all!

NOTE: This article is a consolidation of two columns under DISRUPTIVE MODE printed over Sunstar Bacolod for the last two weeks of December 2019.

2019 Philippines WEF Global Competitiveness: Dissecting The Positive and Negative Factors

This country is certainly not a bed of roses. But neither is it entirely a bed of thorns. The latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2019 was not positive of the Philippines as it slides eight notches lower to the 64th place out of 141 countries from the 56th spot out of 140 countries in 2018. But there are factors and aspects where we ranked high.

There are four major areas with sub-criteria, namely enabling environment (institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption,  macroeconomic stability), human capital (health and skills), markets (product market, labor market, financial system, and market size) and innovation ecosystem (business dynamism and innovation capability).

Under enabling environment, we jumped up 20 notches from 101st to 87 for institutions but moved down 4 notches from 92nd to 96th for infrastructure, 12notches for macroeconomic stability from 43rd in 2018 to 55th. Our biggest drop is in ICT adoption where we are 88th currently from 67th. This criterion includes mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, mobile-broadband subscriptions, fixed-broadband internet subscriptions and fiber Internet subscriptions all pe 100 population and percentage of Internet users of adult population.

For human capital, we have gone further down from 101st in 2018 to 102nd of 141 countries this year. But we remained at 67th in terms of skills. We have posted an increase in markets, particularly in product market from 60th to 52nd, and market size from 32nd to 31st this year. But we went down from 36th to 39th this year for labor market and 39th to 43rd for financial system.

Looking at all the 12 criteria which falls under the four areas, the Philippines may have scored higher than the average among lower-middle income countries, but we are below average the East Asia and Pacific group. This means we may not have slowed down but all our neighbors picked up the pace.

Looking at the factors under each of the criteria (there are over a hundred factors) – it is noteworthy to take a look at the areas where the Philippines is among the Top 40 countries to understand our strengths and to know what we have been doing right so we can keep on doing them. It is also important to identify where we have performed badly or to see the areas where the Philippines joined the bottom 40 countries.

Here is the list of sub-criteria and our rank in that area, starting with where we did well.


7Internal labour mobility
9Insolvency regulatory framework
9Diversity of workforce 
10Companies embracing disruptive ideas
19Environment-related treaties in force
19Budget transparency
26Airport connectivity
33Social capital
39Energy efficiency regulation
36Environment-related treaties in force
35Meritocracy and incentivization
28Reliance on professional managemen
13Pay and productivity
18Extent of staff training 
29Quality of vocational training
20Skillset of graduates
22Digital skills among active population 
13Ease of finding skilled employees
24Critical thinking in teaching
35Trade openness
26Labour tax rate
24Market capitalization
17Soundness of banks
20Non-performing loans % of gross total loans
28Gross domestic product
17Attitudes towards entrepreneurial risk
18Entrepreneurial culture 
17Attitudes towards entrepreneurial risk 
24Willingness to delegate authority
20Growth of innovative companies 
26Multi-stakeholder collaboration


114Organized crime
137Terrorism incidence
126Reliability of police services
110Judicial independence
111Freedom of the press 
103Burden of government regulation
109Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes
121Conflict of interest regulation in Corporate Governance
125Road connectivity
103Electricity access
105Exposure to unsafe drinking water
105Pupil-to-teacher ratio in primary education
115Extent of market dominance
116Redundancy costs 
104Worker’s Rights
130Credit gap (Financial System Stability)
108Banks’ regulatory capital ratio
106Cost of starting a business
118Time to start a business
112Insolvency recovery rate
102R&D expenditures

We need to pay close attention to these positive and negative indicators now to vie for the ranking but to improve our situation as a country.

Marking the strenghts with blue and the weaknesses with red will show that our strength lies in our human capital. Almost all the parameters under that pillar comprise our strength. Our weakest pillar is institutions, and over-all, our enabling environment.

Our innovation ecosystem is both our weakness and strength. We need to understand the blue and red areas and how we can create conducive and level playing field in these pillars.

Enabling Environment Pillars and Factors
Human Capital Pillars and Factors
Markets Pillars and Factors
Innovation Ecosystem Pillars and Factors

Read Full Report: Global Competitiveness Report 2019

Here are related links: Global Competitiveness Report 2019: How to end a lost decade of productivity growth

Capitulación Firmada el Seis de Noviembre: Bacolod As the Birthplace of Freedom

The freedom to chart your own future is like a beautiful ray of sunlight over a land long covered in darkness. That must have been the sentiment of our Negros forefathers 121 years ago when the document evidencing the surrender of Spanish forces in Negros Occidental was signed in the then town of Bacolod on November 6, 1899.

Last Page of the Act of Capitulation

The Negros Revolution against Spain started on November 5, 1898, to end on November 6, 1898 with the signing of the Act of Capitulation by the Spanish Forces. This is the last page of the act. It can be said – that this could be one of the shortest, bloodless revolutions in the country.

The surrender document was signed in the residence of José Ruiz de Luzuriaga, a rich businessman who was deemed acceptable to both rebels and Spanish authorities was sent to mediate.

At noon, a delegation from each of the major belligerents met at the house of Luzuriaga. The rebel delegation included Lacson, Araneta, Gólez, Locsín, Simeón Lizares, Julio Díaz, and José Montilla.

In an hour, it was agreed by both sides that “Spanish troops both European and native surrendered the town and its defenses unconditionally, turning over arms and communication” and that “public funds would be turned over to the new government”.

The Spanish signatories of the surrender document included Isidro de Castro, Braulio Sanz, Manuel Abenza, Ramón Armada, Emilio Monasterio and Domingo Ureta. Those who signed for the Negros revolutionary forces were Aniceto Lacson, Juan Araneta, Leandro Locsin, Simeón Lizares, Julio Díaz, and José Montilla.

Forty-seven eminent Negrenses formulated and ratified a constitution to create a new republic. Signatories included among others Aniceto Lacson, Juan Araneta, Simeón Lizares, Antonio L. Jayme, Eusebio Luzuriaga, Nicolas Gólez, Agustín Amenabar, Rafael Ramos and Rosendo Lacson.

The signing on November 6 happened as a result of the Negros revolt which started on November 3, 1898 or five months after the Act of Declaration of Philippine Independence was issued on June 12, 1898 since the revolution started in 1896. The Negros revolt is probably the shortest in history.

On November 27, 1898, the unicameral Chamber of Deputies met in Bacolod and declared the establishment of the separate Cantonal Republic of Negros, not recognizing the government under Aguinaldo. The Negros republic came under U.S. protection on April 30, 1899 as a separate state from the rest of the Philippine Islands and on the next day, the republic’s constitution was passed.

On July 22, 1899, it was renamed the Republic of Negros. However, on 30 April 1901, it had been dissolved and the island of Negros was annexed to the Philippine Islands by the United States, who retained control until the Japanese imperial occupation in the Second World War.

Commemorative Marker at the Fountain of Justice in the Bacolod City Hall

The Luzuriaga house where the capitulation was signed eventually was used by the provincial of Negros Occidental and later on became the city hall of Bacolod, up to this day. In 2007, the National Historical Commission (NHI) has installed a marker at the site of the Capitulation which is now the Fountain of Justice of the Bacolod City Hall.

Annual ceremony to mark El Seis De Noviembre

The historical name of Bacolod City’s public plaza is Plaza El Seis De Noviembre to mark the day of independence.

The Bandstand and Gazebo at the Plaza Del Seis De Noviembre/ Cecil Garrido Photo
The Gazebo at the Plaza Del Seis De Noviembre/ Cecil Garrido Photo

During her term as councilor, Jocelle Batapa Sigue chaired the Sanggunian Committee on History, Arts and Culture (CHAC) and pushed for the annual commemoration of the event with various historical and cultural organizations.

In 2015, an ordinance was approved declaring November 6 of every year as a historic day for the City of Bacolod to commemorate the signing of the Act of Capitulation or Document of Surrender of the Spanish forces.

Former councilor Em Ang, chairperson of committee on history, culture and arts; and former councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, chairperson of committee on tourism and local, national and international cooperation, are the proponents of the said measure.

November 6 is a historic day for Bacolodnons – it is a day to celebrate freedom. Every Bacolodnon should take this day as an inspiration to persevere and achieve, and to face the future with optimism, knowledge and boldness.

(Source: WikiPedia and Modesto Sa-onoy Historical Accounts)

The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Awardees for 2019

Twelve remarkable Filipino women are hailed as The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS) by TOWNS Foundation, Inc. on October 29, 2019. TOWNS is a national awards program given to outstanding Filipino women ages 21 to 50 years old who have contributed positively to strengthening national capability and shaping the nation’s future and served as catalysts for economic, social and cultural development, national security and national unity. The award is given every three years during the last week of October and the search for these women is held nationwide for a period of one year. Since its inception in 1974, TOWNS has cited 166 women. TOWNS awardees are true role models for Filipino women and girls who wish to dedicate themselves to nation-building.

This year’s awardees are Xyza Bacani (Humanities), Carmina Bayombong (Entrepreneurship), Clarissa Isabelle Delgado (Education), Maria Regina Justina Estuar (Science and Technology), Karla Patricia Gutierez (Performing Arts), Samira Gutoc (Peace Advocacy), Gay Jane Perez (Science and Technology), Patricia Ann Prodigalidad (Law), Stephanie Sy (Technology Entrepreneurship), Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman (Education), Chiara Zambrano (Journalism) and Geraldine Zamora (Health and Medicine).

Xyxa Bacani

Xyza Bacani is street and documentary photographer working for various international publications and global companies through her photography. Xyza started with photography as a hobby while she worked as a domestic worker based in Hongkong. Today, she uses her art to inspire others to think and create change in the society especially for the migrant workers.

She is an Asia 21 Young Leaders Fellow in 2018), the WMA Commission grantee in 2017, and a Pulitzer Center and an Open Society Moving Walls 2017 grantee. She is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, Fuji Film ambassador and author of the book “We Are Like Air”.

Carmina Bayombong

Carmina Bayombong is the founder of InvestEd, an award-winning financial technology (FinTech) startup. Founded in 2016, InvestEd ( gives education loans to college students declared who are commonly considered as non-eligible for loans in the financial system.

Using her engineering background, Carmina developed InvestEd’s proprietary credit scoring algorithm that can predict if an unbanked student will be able to repay the loan even in the absence of credit history and collateral. The success of her algorithm has enabled institutions and individuals to invest their money in InvestEd’s student loan program. On top of education loans, InvestEd also provides digital career and financial literacy coaching to its student borrowers.

Due to Carmina’s outstanding leadership, InvestEd has become the Philippines’ leading student loan company which currently provides a total of Php 13M ($250K) of loans to more than 400 students across 136 schools and 75 degree courses. InvestEd has graduated 150 students and the repayment rate of their graduates is 100% without defaults.

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado

Clarissa Isabelle Delgado is the founder of Teach for the Philippines in 2012 which focuses its efforts on improving teacher quality and addressing education challenges at the system-level. Through its three core programs, the organization concentrates its resources on recruiting, training, and individually coaching new and existing public school teachers, as well as giving Teach for the Philippines-trained teachers an opportunity to engage in public policy.

Today, Teach for the Philippines has grown into a nationwide movement that has engaged over 300 young Filipino leaders who are committed to work towards meaningful and positive change.

Selected out of over 21,000 applications from 191 countries, Clarissa is a member of the inaugural 2018 class of twenty Obama Foundation Fellows, the 2016 recipient of the national Ten Outstanding Young Men & Women Award (TOYM) presented by the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the regional Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leaders Award.

Maria Regina Justina Estuar

Maria Regina Justina Estuar is involved in design and implementation of health, disaster, agriculture ICT-based platforms for Filipino communities She is a professor at the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science, Ateneo de Manila University and the Executive Director of the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center where mobile-web and cloud RnD and solutions are designed for transport, health, environment and disaster. She heads the Ateneo Social Computing Science Laboratory, where eBayanihan was founded. The laboratory works on social, behavioral and organizational predictive analytics, modeling and social network development and analysis. Her life’s work is dedicated to creating a multidisciplinary field combining social science and computer science for understanding and improving lives of ordinary citizens.

Karla Patricia Gutierrez

Karla Patricia Gutierrez is the founder, artistic and managing director of the Philippine Opera Company (POC) in 1999. She repackaged opera to make it more interesting to audiences and brought it to the provinces, private and public schools. Gutierez conceptualized and produced POC’s cultural arm, “Harana” to re-educate the Pinoys with the beauty of our cultural heritage and Philippine music and to bring back patriotism – to love our own and support our own. POC under her leadership offered free workshops for young classical singers through the Young Artists Series as well  a scholarships to public school students who will pursue music in college. POC was able to build the Opera Haus, an Arts Center that we can call a home for classical artists and is focused on nurturing upcoming classical singers of this country

Samira Gutoc

Samira Gutoc is a former ARMM legislator and former Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and is an active civic and youth leader, resource speaker, journalist, women’s rights and peace advocate. She helped organize the Ranao Rescue Team, a volunteer group set up in response to the humanitarian crisis that ensued after the Marawi siege in 2017,and spoke in Congress about human rights abuses during martial law in Marawi. She is spokesperson of Ranao Rescue Team which is assisting government and survivor families of missing and dead persons from the siege,  and was recently awarded by the UN Development Programme N-Peace Awards 2018 as a community organizer in Marawi City. Towards highlighting the evacuees’ situation, their rights and humanitarian situation, she has been a resource person to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and has also appeared on Al Jazeerah. As a legislator appointed by then President Aquino to introduce reforms in ARMM, she authored the Enhanced Education Act in ARMM and has pushed for regional advocacies on declaring schools as a Zone of Peace, Open Government, Civil Society and stakeholder collaboration among others.

As a journalist, Samira has worked as a correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) featuring Marawi City and Muslim communities all over the country. She also worked with an award-winning group led by Director Marilou Abaya (for GMA-7) and scriptwriter Ricky Lee to conceptualize the trailblazing movie, Bagong Buwan, which has reaped accolades in film festivals abroad in New York, Japan and Asia. She has reported on the situation of Muslims in Culiat, Tandang Sora for an Al-Jazeerah-contracted outfitand spoke on BBC on the issues of minorities facing globalization. She also served as former editor of The Moro Times (by Manila Times) and was Editor in Chief of the MSU Mindanao Varsitarian. She tapped tri-media to advocate for cultural minorities, peace, human rights, and inter-cultural understanding and has been featured in magazines including Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Quality Britain and Esquire Philippines.

Gay Jane Perez

Gay Jane Perez is a professor who won the 2018 ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women and became the first Filipino winner of the prestigious award given out by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, US Agency for International Development and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Perez, an associate professor at the UP Diliman College of Science’s Environmental Science and Meteorology Department, led the DOST Philippines-Microsat program that successfully sent into orbit Diwata-1 in 2016. Perez showed exceptional research on precision agriculture and how it can improve yield by using satellite observations with models and ground data, to better derive and develop prediction tools for agriculture in the Philippines. Perez’s work on remote sensing examines spatial distribution of vegetation, temperature, precipitation and soil moisture that provide the ability to assess drought impacts. Perez received her doctoral degree in Physics from the National Institute of Physics in UP Diliman, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Patricia Ann Prodigalidad

Patricia Ann Prodigalidad is a lawyer and author of legal publications who specializes in commercial litigation, white collar crime, intra-corporate disputes, banking, investments and securities litigation, anti-money laundering, corporate rehabilitation and insolvency, international commercial and construction arbitration, and intellectual property and antitrust litigation. Prodigalidad also acts as an arbitrator in international commercial and domestic arbitration, both institutional and ad hoc, as well as in Philippine construction arbitration. She is an accredited arbitrator of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC), the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) where she currently serves as Trustee and Corporate Secretary and the Philippine Office of ADR (OADR). On the international front, she is a part of the arbitrator panels of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association. She has served as a member of the ADR Committee of the Philippine Bar Association and is a continuing Philippine delegate to the ADR Standing Committee of the ASEAN Law Association. She has recently been elected as a trustee of the ASEAN Law Institute.

She is currently a trustee of various institutions such as the UP Women Lawyers’ Circle, the Harvard Law School Alumni Association Inc. and the Philippine Institute of Construction Arbitrators and Mediators. Since 2012 to the present, she has been cited as among the key practitioners and experts in the field of Asset Recovery by Who’s Who Legal 100 and was recognized by Asialaw Profiles as a Distinguished Practitioner in the practice area of dispute resolution in 2019. She topped the 1996 Bar Examinations and was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1997.

Stephanie Sy (middle)

Stephanie Sy is the founder and CEO of Thinking Machines Data Science, Inc., a startup that builds data platforms and AI tools for improved organizational decisions. Her team’s work combines algorithmic thinking and data storytelling to drive effective action from organizations in all sectors. Their key achievements include opening in Singapore, partnerships with Google Cloud Platform and Waze (as the only Top Contributor in Asia), and working with the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines and Singapore. The company has also published work at the 2019 International Conference on Machine Learning, one of the top machine learning conferences in the world.

At only 30 years old, she has turned the company into a data science powerhouse and shows no signs of stopping. She continues to advocate for STEM and data science in the country by promoting projects geared towards data science education at DOST-PCIEERD. She also remains active in the local python and data science community, giving talks at Python PH, DataBeers, Women in Tech events, and Developers Connect conferences to encourage students to learn. Her passion for using data science to create social good has even led her to speak in local and international conferences such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Keynote and UNICEF Innovation Meeting. Her dream is to use technology to help address climate change while building a world-class Filipino company.

Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman is the founder Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Inc. (TPBPI) which underscores the importance of making every Filipino child a peace advocate by promoting culture and peace dialogue among the young generation and a sustainable peaceful society.

TPBPI has partnered with many organizations to address the situation in Marawi through a program called Pathways to Integrated and Inclusive Conflict-Sensitive Protection and Education for Children in Mindanao or (iCOPE) Project, a consortium of different organization and government agencies. TPBPI led the unveiling of art books made by the young conflict survivors, showcasing the artworks made by Marawi children. These are the outcomes from a series of art mentoring workshops done by the TPBPI movement.

Chiara Zambrano

Chiara Zambrano is a multi-awarded correspondent and documentary filmmaker of ABC-CBN. As the most prominent and prolific female war correspondent of her time, Chiara has become a trusted resource in matters concerning terrorism and the West Philippine Sea. Zambrano is one of the Outstanding Young Men and Women (TOYM) Awards for exemplary work in the field of Journalism (2017). She holds a Master of Arts in Documentary by Practice (2018) with Distinction from the Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom and a

Master of Arts in Journalism (2015) from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. She is a scholar of The Chevening Scholarships, United Kingdom (2017-2018), a Fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Centre for Journalism (2013-2015) for the documentary “’Di Ka Pasisiil” on the entry of ISIS and the Marawi siege. She received the Gold World Medal Award from the New York Awards (2018), the Certificate of Excellence from the US International Film & Video Festival (2018), the Ani ng Dangal from the National Commission on Culture & the Arts (2019), the KBP Golden Dove Award for Best Documentary (2018), and the PMPC Star Awards for Best Documentary (2018).

Geraldine Zamora

Geraldine Zamora is a clinical associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine – Philippine General Hospital and consultant at the St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City. She is class valedictorian in the UP College of Medicine; topped licensure exams; and received multiple recognitions. She has numerous publications and research presentations; a co-author of  five books; and editor of IM Platinum, awarded Outstanding Book by NAST Philippines. She is the first Filipino Visiting Postdoctoral Scientist in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Rheumatology); one of only three Filipinos to be awarded International Fellowship Grant by the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology; and is now one of the 150+ rheumatologists in the country — one serving about a million Filipinos.

She is one of the youngest professors in UPCM to train our next generation of doctors and was the first President of the UP MedRhythmics dance club; founding member of PGH Medicine Alumni Association; and as the first Filipino Rheumatologist invited to participate in the USA Vasculitis Clinical Research, she is now spearheading the Philippine Vasculitis Study Group to ultimately improve patients’ lives.

Her outstanding pioneering works include spearheading concerts of dance/song/art for the benefit of cancer patients; helping generate millions of pesos to help subsidize life-saving diagnostic exams and medications for indigent patients in the medical wards/ICU as Board of the Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation; staging A Work of HeART benefit fashion shows:“Every step down the runway in a native creation is an inch closer to a strengthened community through health.” She created the Rheumatology Bridging Lupus Fund, and co-founded Hope for Lupus Foundation, which partnered with the Department of Health to promote early detection and proper treatment of lupus. Her social media platforms help Filipinos with simplified information, and inspire improved health-seeking behaviors.

TOWNS Foundation president is Olivia Ferry while this year’s chair of the TOWNS search committee is a TOWNS Awardee in the field of medicine and former health secretary Esperanza Cabral.

Congratulations Outstanding Women of 2019!

BNEFIT: Strategies to Create Opportunities

Note: This is a 2015 Article.

It is amazing how one idea can lead to another. From several concerned individuals who supported the plans of the Sanggunian Committee on Communications and Energy chaired by first-termer Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue in 2004, to an organized group called the Bacolod IT Focus Team, to eventually an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council of Bacolod created by way of an ordinance in 2006, to eventually a bigger confederation of government, academe and business and private sector known as BNEFIT, to finally being part of a national federation of ICT councils and organization in 2007 – the Bacolod ICT sector has grown by leaps and bounds.

Why it grew in such a pace? The secret lies in the commitment of the local ICT stakeholders to steer Bacolod City and Negros Occidental towards a common direction – for the benefit of all. Aptly named, BNEFIT stands for Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT, approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock non-profit organization to pursue ICT- readiness and competitiveness and to further push and sustain the gains of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as part of the Philippine Cyber Corridor.

By coming together, BNEFIT accepted the challenge posed by the former Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) as it targets to capture ten percent of the world’s outsourcing market equivalent to 13 billion USD revenues and one million employment by 2010 through public-private sector initiatives.

As a first step, CICT has sounded the call for accurate facts from various local government units in the Philippine Roadmap 2010, a comprehensive study of the Philippine outsourcing industry which details the aspirations of the Philippine BPO industry and the initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.

BNEFIT aims to be a collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. It assisted local government units and the national government especially in designing programs that will complement the educational system and integrate ICT therein to produce a more competent and job-ready workforce.

It aims to establish and institutionalize a strong network and various linkages with all academic, formal and non-formal, technical and vocational training institutions in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in order to formulate, consolidate and implements strategies and programs that will address the challenges and gaps identified in the ICT sector.

BNEFIT also regularly helps to develop a comprehensive plan on a provincial basis in order to yield a more accurate picture of the workforce and a rationalized program of infrastructure and human resource build-up based on strengths, encourage synergy among the sectors involved in developing government support, business environment and talent development, in order avoid duplication of efforts, minimize competition among local government units, and maximize resources to better prepare the province and the region to become competitive globally.

On May 2013, Bacolod was finally elevated as one of the Centers of Excellence in IT-BPM in the country, after being Top 5 (2009-2010) and Top 3 (2011-2012) in the Top Ten Next Wave Cities for Outsourcing and Off-shoring.

Consistently, from its entry to the Tholons Top 100 Destinations for Outsourcing as the 100th city in 2010, Bacolod moved higher almost each year to reach the 85th spot last January 2016.

As a result of the initiatives of BNEFIT, more than 20,000 new jobs in the outsourcing and offshoring (O&O) were created in Bacolod by 2012 for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.  Today, there is an estimated 24,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod, or a salary circulation of almost 3 Billion Pesos a year.

In 2008, BNEFIT became part of a national federation of ICT councils and organizations – National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP). Today, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP serves as the recognized advocate for countrywide ICT industry development. NICP is known as the champion of countrywide digital development and a staunch advocate for developing a smarter countryside.

BNEFIT today has become a role model for other cities. Batapa-Sigue as one of the founders and former president of NICP has been instrumental in inspiring and helping various cities and provinces in the Philippines to create their ICT councils or to strengthen their existing councils by encouraging the adoption her four-fold underlying principles:

  1. Government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction
  2. The private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure.
  3. The academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education
  4. All three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach and has embraced the principle of collaboration among the local government and national government agencies with the academe and industry.

After serving for several years as president of BNEFIT, Batapa-Sigue now serves as Executive Director of BNEFIT to mentor new leaders.

The mission of NICP is to promote foreign and local investments and a balanced development between Metro Manila and all the other cities and provinces in the country, to share information and best practices, and to transform the Philippines into a customer-oriented and competitive provider for global services.

Batapa-Sigue has relentlessly pursued the goal of making NICP as a national venue for collaboration; develop the member organizations through the sharing of best practices, among others, and to be the unified voice for the Philippine Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry. NICP represents the collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments in more than 30 cities and provinces in the Philippines forged to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making the Philippines as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, thus creating more jobs, raising more revenues, generating more investments and improving the educational standards and human resource capability of our individual regions and the country in general. 

In 2014, Batapa-Sigue was awarded as Philippines ICT Individual Contributor of the Year by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the IT and Business process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).



  • International and Local Trade Missions and Expositions to Promote Bacolod and Negros Occidental
  • Research and Development of Presentations to Investors Promotion Strategies and Collaterals
  • Investment Meetings and Briefing for Potential Locators
  • Active Leadership Roles in national ICT associations (NICP) and regional clusters (VICTOR)
  • Guidance and Support to Locators and Investors for Ancillary Services and Industries
  • Partnership with the Province of Negros Occidental ICT Investments Programs


  • Development of Forum and Activities to Introduce Information on New Investments and Innovation Trends
  • Business Research Center Services as DTI Shared Service Facility Cooperator
  • Policy Support for the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council
  • Technology Business Incubation Management for Tech-Startups and Entrepreneurs  with DOST
  • Design and Implementation of ICT Investments Conferences, Seminars and Exhibitions
  • Private Sector Representation in the Regional Competitiveness Council
  • Continuing Advocacy Support to Address Concerns and Issues of the Local ICT Industry


  • Faculty Training and Development on New ICT Areas (EMC Academic Alliance on Cloud Infrastructure and Information and Storage Management
  • Certifications for ICT Graduates (Philippine ICT General Certification Examinations, IBPAP and EMC   
  • Certifications, TESDA and Industry-Based Finishing Courses)
  • Annual Academic ICT Skills Competitions
  • Partnerships with Academe and Human Resource Training Organizations

Responding to Greta

Published in SunStar Bacolod under my column – DISRUPTIVE MODE on October 2, 2019

Sixteen-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg has become an overnight name for saying what other environmental activists failed to strongly say to our leaders – shut up and show it.

For decades, our leaders have designed all sorts of policies, treatises and pacts to mitigate the impact of and adopt measures in response to climate change, but human consumption has ballooned to tremendous proportions and capitalists have profited much from this phenomenon. Greta and the rest of teenagers today across the globe has every right to demand for a cleaner, healthier, and sustainable future.    

My response to Greta came early as ten years ago by authoring City Ordinance No. 504, an ordinance creating climate change mitigation and adaptation programs of Bacolod City and calls for the creation of a Bacolod Network on Climate Change (BNCC) composed of representatives from different sectors. The ordinance calls for vulnerability and adaptation (V&A) assessment of current and future climate risks and coping measures and mechanisms adopted by local communities.

I am sharing the disruptive features of the ordinance because it calls for leaving our comfort zones. It moves us to adopt sustainable and organic agriculture, forest resource and biodiversity conservation, and ecological waste management focused on reduction, recycling, and re-use of city wastes. It calls for a dynamic coastal resource management through a participatory process of planning, implementing and monitoring sustainable uses of coastal resources.

It mandates sustainable energy development, energy conservation and efficiency as well as sustainable transportation and the promotion of environment-friendly modes of transportation covering land, water and air. 

The city shall come up with an annual energy efficiency targets that addresses the demand-side efficiency improvements, energy conservation, and use of energy efficient technologies. There shall also be regular traffic improvement schemes, geared towards the development and use of efficient mass transport systems, non-motorized transport modes and provisions of infrastructure such as “bike lanes” and “no-vehicles allowed areas”, emission control schemes focusing on improved fuel and vehicle efficiency, parking facilities development by public and private sector and improvement of road markings and signages, as well as, intersection control. 

Industries shall be encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures, promotion of energy conservation and use of alternative non-CO2 emitting industrial processes; and to use and develop of renewable and alternative energy such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro. The Office of the Building Official shall encourage energy-efficient designs for new buildings. 

The city shall prioritize public sanitation including preserving quality of water, land and air in relation to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on health. The city’s environment and natural resources officer (ENRO) shall actively conduct information dissemination to barangays on the effects of or destruction caused by climate change upon beaches, reefs and coastal infrastructure; importance of water conservation in order to address the threat of decreasing quantity and quality of drinking water due to climate change; as well as preparatory measures in cases of calamities or enhancement of disaster management capacity in times extreme weather events and serious need for humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters. 

In agriculture and fisheries, the city shall promote research and extension work on climate change adaptation thru local research institutions, the academe and relevant stakeholders.

The city shall provide for resources for the integration of lessons about climate change and global warming in all educational institutions and promote dialogues between workers and employers to promote green and decent jobs.

My entry to politics in 2004 was prompted by my advocacies, including environmental conservation and so I am grateful for gaining deeper knowledge about ecological preservation. I was able to fulfill my dream to do something for Mother Earth in my role as a policymaker.  But I am sad for Greta because many policies remain in paper. I am hoping Greta’s generation will win this time. In her words, we need to inform ourselves of the situation because the politics needed to push it does not exist today.

Full Text of City Ordinance No. 504 – Bacolod City Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance

A Peddler of Hope

The dignity of earning a living comes with a price. Its amount is equivalent to how much are we willing to value ourselves as citizens of our community alongside our economic needs.

Our street vendors live each day precariously with that question in mind – balancing whether they must earn or must follow the law. They are caught in this situation not always because they want to but because it is the closest they can get to earning decently – and seemingly, there is no rule.

We are confronted with the issues surrounding the existence of vendors illegally occupying our streets today with the recent directive of the President for DILG to clear the roads. It is not the elephant in the room – we all talk about these things even in the “kapehan” for years. The real question is – do we have clear solutions in ensuring that we balance rule of law and allowing vendors their share of earning decently.

Chaos happens when leadership forces a community to bend back to accommodate infractions for the sake of humanitarian consideration because it has no plan to create sustainable solutions to help bring dignity back to people who simply wish to earn a decent living. All political play. Sadly, the pawns are our hapless vendors.

These past few months gave me the opportunity to face the problem squarely and I am sad to discover things. The vendors are usually asked to join political activities and rallies. I became aware that some of them were instructed to wear a shirt of a particular color and report early morning at radio stations where political debates will happen. I spent all night worrying about the invectives I will hear from partisan groups pooling outside the stations with no choice but to follow orders.

When the issue about concerned citizens posting pictures of Facebook of garbage from Christmas sales surfaced, the vendors were asked to gather for a meeting in a government facility and told that I was against them and the posting were my doing. They were systematically influenced to hate me even before I can even start to share what I have to offer.

In private meetings, several vendors told me they are tired of being “used” for political interests. The schemes were never ending. How we can get out of a situation where the same vulnerability of a sector is being exploited for political gains – the answer constantly evades me – except for one – a leadership that will not use them but will make them understand their value for their own sake. It is sad to see people exploit other people’s weaknesses, or twist every word and fact to suit their needs.

On several occasions, I was able to discuss things in a calmer, more friendly environment. I still remember that day when I laid down my cards – starting with the need to follow the law.

I told them – I have nothing against them personally. I know poverty very well – what it is like to simply yearn for your next meal. I told them I clearly understand their need to earn a living and I fully support that. I assured them I got there backs as long as they help me build an orderly and lawful community.

I told them all I have are my words which I honor always. Support is not an empty word – for it is fully loaded – starting with seriously rebuilding our markets so it becomes competitive even with the best malls in town. Resources to make this happen will always be there if we carefully and wisely plan.

I told them – there will be no middlemen when they need to reach me. A fully operational vendors desk will be established so I can monitor how new interventions and programs gradually impact on their income brackets. Regular consultation will be held with the objective of making sure that all vendors in the city becomes law-abiding citizens who contribute to ensuring clean and orderly public facilities.

In the course of the discussion, I needed to emphasize that I am not one to embrace or kiss anyone especially in public. That I am awkward in my ways as a politician. I do not smile often or is able to really keep my cool even in situations which require me to be angry or to cry. And I hope they can accept me.

I told them we will build win-win solutions as we go. Their ideas will be primarily considered – they will become indirect policymakers – identifying solutions for themselves without commiting any violation. I offered scholarships and jobs for their children so we can start a new generation that is not dependent solely on vending. I offered them alternative facilities which I plan to actively promote to ensure that consumer traffic is heavy in these facilities. I will create programs to add value to local products and strategies to promote them. In sum, everyone will be part of a vision they can all be proud of.

In one bigger meeting with the vendors, one of them, an elderly woman approached me as I was about to leave. With a hint of tears in her eyes she said, “Day, wala pa gid bala naka-estorya sa amon sang amo sini”. I told her, “Nay, damo pa ta estoryahan.”

My advisers have never failed in reminding me to “court” the vendors because of their sheer number – but I know I am a big headache for any campaign manager. I don’t court for politics sake – I help identify and offer solutions but that is not how politics in the Philippines work.

Today, I am reminded of the many faces of the vendors I have meet in the campaign trail as the DILG and all stakeholders begin the wave of massive clearing of roads around the country. The vendors will be the most affected. I feel sorry for them  and I sincerely wish we create a more sustainable set of solutions for our city regarding their sector – one that will honor their dignity as small entrepreneurs simply trying to make a living without violating any law.   

Local leaders have a mandate to fulfill and needless to say, every citizen has a responsibility to obey. The Local Government Code of the Philippines particularly in Section 16 provides: “Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. ”

I have reservations in writing these thoughts down as many will not find it palatable. But I think it is my responsibility to make our citizens aware how politics slow us down – how it hinders us from transcending problems we have faced for decades. I am sincerely hoping we can help improve the lives of our vendors and our community in general. And it is sad to see that politics always gets in the way. Hopefully, by sharing these postscripts, in my little way, I can inspire all local government leaders of this country. I am praying for courage and wisdom for all local leaders.

To a certain extent, everyone of us is a vendor. I am a peddler of hope. There is no assurance of earning from this craft – but I do it anyway. Everyone simply has a station in life.

CHANGE: First 100 Days (2) – A Focus on Solid Waste Management

Part 2 of 10: Days 11 to 20 – Rolling Our Sleeves For the Real Work – Identifying Newer, More Cost-Effective and Efficient Solutions to Address Solid Waste Management

The word CHANGE has become a cliche these days. It has become an overused and misunderstood political slogan for decades. A political challenger uses the word against a ruling power to emphasize the need for change in rulers. Because of what the word has become effective for political campaigns – it has become a brand, a theme, a by-word. Sadly many do not understand CHANGE as a sytemic process. Change not in the sense of simply changing rulers but changing mindsets, processes, systems, strategies, techniques that do not work or no longer work. Or ways that have become obsolete irrelevant, unresponsive to the actual needs and problems today. The word CHANGE has become so political – it has become a mere word.

In Bacolod, the whole city is crying for systemic change. Thousands of citizens do not know exactly what to ask but everyone knows many things need to change. The cry, the aspirations, the sentiments for improvements, for new directions, new strategies have been drowned out by too much political noise. But I am thankful, I had the opportunity to revisit many communities and listened to some. I may have lost the elections in numbers, but my mental database have been enriched with more understanding of the problems in the communities. And just like when I lost for the first time in 2001 as a councilor, I considered the experience as God’s way of opening my heart, making me understand why I need to join public service.

In this backdrop, I resume to write the second part of my First 100 Days Towards Change. Having walked the path again these past 7 months, I wish to pay tribute to all those who journeyed with me by writing down my thoughts as to how I would have effected change. It is my prayer that these becomes a useful material for new leaders.

Part 1 was my first ten days if I was elected in office. Here is my idea of my Days 11 to 20 – devoted to general cleaning.

One important area that needs serious change is in the aspect of solid waste management. The traditional garbage collection and dumping should no longer be the only solutions. Given the chance, my next ten days in office could have been focused in setting changes for this aspect.

Day 11 and 12 – Form the Solid Waste Management Audit Team to conduct a thorough audit of the solid waste management program of the city in order to immediately resolve apparent lack of action for all uncollected garbage, identifying immediate, short term and long term solutions). The city spends almost half a billion pesos a year these past years in SWM and yet there remains so many unresolved issues like inefficient collection, a disconnect between the mandatory segregation at source and the final dumping process.

During the campaign, I have paid the Felisa Landfill (which still appears to be an open dumpsite, and sadly so many are comfortable of referring to the same as a dumpsite when under Republic Act No. 9003, open and even controlled dumpsites were already prohibited startiung 2005. The area appears to host mixed waste. Sadly sorrounding the are as scavengers trying to make a decent living but without any facility to actually sort the garbage. I pity the scavengers and even the “junkers” who are prey to those who want to make money out of them still, despite the very measly value of a full day work. I can still remember the tears of one scavengers sharing her story.

Day 13 and 14 – The SWM Team shall immediately convene concerned Bacolodnons who are expert in the various fields related SWM, especially in specific aspects like hazardous or toxic wastes, recyclables, hospital wastes, food wastes, industrial and agricultural waste, and other aspects to identify and consolidated strategies to create a holistic approach to address the SWM problem of Bacolod on a short term and long term or sustainable basis considering the most cost-effective and efficient means. My dream is to see the Felisa dumpsite become a fully-compliant landfill and beside it shall stand a state-of-the-art city-wide materials recovery facility (MRF). I have promised the scavengers a better life – because they will be an important part of the mission of saving Bacolod from being engulfed with garbage.

Day 15 and 16 – The SWM Team shall meet with all the barangays in Bacolod to identify and consolidate all strategies and mechanisms as to how the city can partner with the barangays to achieve its SWM targets and how the city can empower the barangays in terms of resources.

Day 17 and 18 – The SWM Team shall present their findings, initialy strategies and reommendations. The DENR and other agencies must be part of the team and the panel to evaluate all the strategies. There has to be more emphasis on segregation at source by creating ways to incentivize compliance, seriously designing recycling and upcycling programs and conversion of waste to useful items to approximate the global call for zero waste. In the coming months, I shall make way for discussions about alternative and creative schemes.

Day 19 and 20 – The final output of the SWM Team shall be presented to policymakers, public officials and various agencies and most all the citizens or Bacolod who will become part and parcel of the vision for an integrated approach to SWM in Bacolod. Clear and specific timelines and success indicators shall be put in place.

CHANGE is not just about changing people. It is about changing mindsets and systems. We only have one city, one Earth. We have no right to destroy it. If we understand our mission, we know we can do it.

Here is a link to my privilege speech 11 years ago as a city councilor – concerning this matter for reference:

CHANGE: First 100 Days (1) – Organizational Development

Part 1 of 10: My proposed first 10 Days – Visioning and Onboarding, Strenghtening Stakeholders to Ensure Good and Results-Centric Govenance

Change is inevitable. Apparently in Bacolod, the current administration repeatedly insists “We don’t need change.” A repetitive campaign slogan that many swallowed hook, line and sinker.

From the side of the public, the dangerous thinking of not needing change is fanned by an almost debilitating belief that all politicians are the same. Hence, whoever sits will never change anything. Everyone is rotten. We are all looped like hoops in a string. That the system is rotten so everyone should might as well take the money and forget what happens tomorrow. Well guess what, I refused to be classified. I do not easily follow patterns, neither do I fall for fads.

My theory (and many will brush it aside as simply that) is change is a must. To improve from Point A to Point B is change. Sadly, this city has no room for proper discussion except the usual mud-slinging we all expected to witness during the campaign period. Although I tried my best to present all the stategies and ideas for seven months, the same was drowned by the noise and frenzy of political exercises. The intellectual (mostly non-functionals) called us clowns in a circus – they were simply too good to even care about what politicians say. On one hand, the poor masses looked at us like messiahs. In the end, the more potent potion was the smell of crisp peso bills.

Nonetheless, the most important battle is the battle we fight inside us. When we look at ourselves in the mirror and ask – did I fail? For me failure is relative. More often in life – you either win or you learn. In my case, I learned a lot. I have improved my ability to stand in the crowd without losing myself. I know what I want to do and I know why I want to do it. My mission is to see that changes happen in this city. I failed in getting the chance to do it – but I did not fail in making a stand, up to the end.

This is my first 100 days plan based on the platform I presented to the People of Bacolod. Since the election is now over and I failed in my bid, I am simply sharing this for academic purposes. As the current administration says we don’t need change. So be it. Hence this piece is for other mayors of other cities, who may want to use the ideas in this article as reference. So please indulge me, after all this is just an academic piece, and for the jaded eyes, a rant. (But I would appreciate permission before use.)

Day 1 – Present and explain in detail in clear, precise and concise terms the VISION – what and where Bacolod will be on June 30, 2022: A smarter, stronger, humane and inclusive city of the future. I will share the goals in terms of numbers (how many jobs to generate, what roadmaps to prepare, what are the systems to put in place or to improve, if existing) Outline and explain the MISSION – what are the major objectives in the key areas (business and commerce, health and environment, local governance, culture and values, among others). Gather initial suggestions and empower both public and private sector leaders in achieving the vision.

Day 2 – Initiate an Organization Development (OD) Process to revisit, review and strengthen the work ethics and organization culture of city government employees to improve and professionalize delivery of public service.

Organization development (OD) is the study of successful organizational change and performance. OD emerged from human relations studies in the 1930s, during which psychologists realized that organizational structures and processes influence worker behavior and motivation. More recently, work on OD has expanded to focus on aligning organizations with their rapidly changing and complex environments through organizational learning, knowledge management and transformation of organizational norms and values. Key concepts of OD theory include: organizational climate (the mood or unique “personality” of an organization, which includes attitudes and beliefs that influence members’ collective behavior), organizational culture (the deeply-seated norms, values and behaviors that members share) and organizational strategies (how an organization identifies problems, plans action, negotiates change and evaluates progress). (Source: Organizational Development Theory)

Day 3 – Create and meet with various key task forces in the city, such as but not limited to to:

Cluster 1: Road, Traffic, Disaster and Risk, and Security and Safety management Task Force

Cluster 2: Housing, Drainage, and Social Services Task Force

Cluster 3: Environment, Health and Sanitation Task Force

Cluster 4: Infrastructure, Business Environment and Talent Development Task Force

Cluster 5: Values, Governance, Transparency, Accountability, and Citizen’s Participation Task Force

Cluster 6: Tourism, Hospitality, Heritage, History, Arts and Culture Task Force

Cluster 7: Sectoral Development and Empowerment Task Force

Cluster 8: Barangay Empowerment and Development Task Force

Cluster 9: Legal, Contract and Ordinances Review and Implementation Task Force

Cluster 10: Digital Services and Automation Projects Task Force

Each cluster shall be given concrete timeframe to review current situation, identify problems and challenges, recommend strategies and solutions to address these. They shall be encourahged to create sub-clusters to address specific areas of concerns.

Day 3 – Review OD reccomendations from Day 2 and act on necessary changes to improve organizations efficiency.

Day 4 – Meet with all department heads to drill down the vision and get more ideas.

Day 5 – Create sectoral desks to address concerns of each sector.

Day 6 – Meet with and present vision to all barangay officials and gather more ideas and solutions. Identify specific priority projects for each barangay.

Day 7 – Meet with Sanggunian Panlungsod members and listen to concerns of each Commitee. Identify and review ordinances that urgently needs to be implemented. Identify proposed ordinances that are necessary for Bacolod. Outline various support needed by each committee. Create the LEDAC (Legislative Executive Developmemt Agenda Committee) to initialize discussion for an Executive Agenda to be merged with a Legislative Agenda to create the ELA (Executive Legislative Agenda)

Day 8 – Initialize physical immediate reforms such cost-cutting measures for energy consumption in all local government facilities, strict implementation of solid waste disposal in all public facilities. Digitize files to save space and many other ways to improve flow of air inside the government center.

Day 9 – Meet with key leaders in the private sector and identify various development roadmap for the creation of new business and industries in Bacolod. Address long standing private sector concerns and open the doors for continuing dialogues with the private sector to explore solutions.

Day 10 – Recieve, review, and act upon all recommendations and proposals collated during the first 9 days. The idea is to ensure that all recommendations improve access of ordinary citizens to public services, equitable distribution of support services to all sectors, and facilitate the smooth flow communications between different stakeholders. The first ten days are aimed at strengthening the working relations between various sectors and to but ensure the proper onboarding of all participants to the vision.

Change is inevitable. But whether we change towards disaster or oblivion or change towards higher grounds is another thing. I am hoping the academics who scrutinize public service like a laboratory rat enjoy this piece.

To be continued.

Note: Photo was taken at the Felisa Dumpsite, Bacolod City

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters ” – Colossians 3:23

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