Manila Times adjudged the City of San Fernando in Pampanga as first runner-up nationwide in the overall rankings of the 2023 Model Cities and Municipalities.
This, after the city bested 11 other competing cities next to Calamba City, Laguna.
Manila Times said the Model Cities and Municipalities Awards is its way of giving recognition to the local government units that have made a steadfast commitment to sustainable development and achieved economic growth and expansion through innovations.
“Of all of the events that we put together, I think this is one that is most enjoyable because as we know, the work to bring or to realize the aspirations of the country begins with improving one city at a time. And so we are glad today to bring those achievements to the national spotlight,” Manila Times CEO Dante Francis Ang II said during the awarding ceremony.
Aside from garnering the second overall spot, City of San Fernando also snatched a back-to-back win as the Tourism and Culture Hub for its captivating blend of a rich culture, heritage, and tourism offerings, making it a dynamic hub for travelers and culture enthusiasts.
The city was also conferred with the Infra Innovator Award, being a testament to the nation’s commitment to progressive infrastructure development.
“With its modern and well-planned infrastructure, the city is poised for a prosperous and sustainable future that will cater to its growing population,” the Manila Times said.
In addition, with its progressive planning, principles, and innovative approach in management, and for being an example of a smart and technologically-advanced urban center, San Fernando was also given the Tech Territory Award.
In his keynote message, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos discussed the Philippine Government Plan of Action geared towards creating smart cities and building sustainable communities in the country.
“I will focus on three things namely digitalization for more efficient, faster service delivery, more transparency, and fewer opportunities for corruption; dynamic innovation ecosystem with emphasis on technology and innovation-targeted strategies; and enhanced connectivity including digital and physical connectivity through infrastructures,” he said.
Abalos furthered that as part of the national agenda, DILG is aggressively instituting reforms relative to these both at the national and local levels of sustainable development.
For her part, Mayor Vilma Caluag vowed to continuously put into her heart and actions the excellence in public service, not only in the three mentioned areas, but also among her 10-point agenda.
“When Secretary Abalos is giving his message, we are happy to note that what we are doing in San Fernando is in line with what DILG and the national government wants to implement, especially in terms of digitalization. It is really heartwarming that our efforts are being recognized at the national level. Thank you, Manila Times, for appreciating our hardwork,” the mayor said.
Aside from San Fernando, other cities in the region that received awards included Meycauayan City in Bulacan as Education Hub; City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan — Family First Award and Food Security Enabler; Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija – Social Service Oriented; and Baliuag City, Bulacan – Livelihood and Employment Center.
For the municipalities, Bulakan, Bulacan bagged the Best Model Municipality and Emergency Disaster Management Excellence Awards; Capas, Tarlac – Safe Haven; Plaridel, Bulacan – Education Hub; Baler, Aurora –Eco Friendly Award; and Sta. Maria, Bulacan –Business Friendly Award. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)