Metro Manila: The Hub in the Asian Region
Byline: Melito Salazar Jr.
THE victory of the opposition in Metro Manila has been considered by many as reflective of the temper of the Philippine electorate. It should be viewed also as an indication of the need to introduce changes in the governance of these cities in order to better provide the quality service and infrastructure demanded by a more discriminating and cosmopolitan population.
For Mayor Jojo Binay and Mayor Peewee Trinidad, it is a vindication of their governance that has given a better quality of life to their constituents and a strong message to the national government and all its minions to "keep off the local governments." Metro Manila and the country can not afford to have a politically motivated vendetta against the perceived enemies of the Arroyo administration. Metro Manila's growth is central to the growth of Philippine economy and society and should be given a facilitative environment to fully develop its potential.
Changing MM. Metro Manila's role as the center of industrial growth is diminishing in the same manner as the industrial sector's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has also been declining. Many of the manufacturing plants have relocated to the Calabarzon area, a testament to the initiatives taken by the Board of Investments under then President Corazon Aquino and aggressively promoted by the country's No. 1 salesman, former President Fidel V. Ramos. Infrastructure projects in the countryside have also drawn new enterprises to new industrial growth centers in the Visayas and Mindanao. Still Metro Manila remains the cultural center of the Philippines. It's role as the corporate and service hub of the country is being enhanced and properly managed, it should become a stronger regional hub.
Cultural Center. In Manila is clustered the infrastructure for the advancement of Philippine culture and the arts. The major players in art, theater and music and the venues for internationally acclaimed performances are located in Metro Manila. In recent years, the glitter of these sectors has dimmed as less support came from both the national government and the private sector. The disbandment of the San Miguel Symphony Orchestra is cause for lament. The inability of such cultural edifices as the Cultural Center of the Philippines to renovate their premises and barely maintain the quality of their productions is due to the meager budget from the national government even as the friends of CCP try to augment its funds. Mayorelect Fred Lim's announcement that together with the GSIS, the incoming city administration will resurrect the Metropolitan Theater should prod other corporate donors to link up with local government units of Metro Manila to begin a cultural renaissance that will radiate to the rest of the Philippines. Hopefully, it will shame the national government to provide more funding for the arts and discourage other local government units from wasting people's money on garish and grossly overpriced lampposts.
Financial Focus. The presence of the Philippine Stock Exchange, major regional and Philippine banks, other financial institutions makes Metro Manila the financial center of the Philippines. With the quality and internationally competitive skills of the finance professionals in the metropolis, Metro Manila could aspire to be a more significant player in the regional financial markets. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco and the Monetary Board are leading the way by creating an environment of increasing deregulation, adherence to international best practices and the creation of new financial instruments. …