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BUILDING BRIDGES

Mayor Aleli-3

After nearly two decades in public service, Mayor Noel Rosal
has changed Legazpi City for good. And he is gearing up for more.

BY HELEN HERNANE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA JR.

Mayor Aleli-1

This is not the first time the mayor graced the pages of LEAGUE Magazine. Only a year has passed since we featured Mayor Noel Rosal in our December 2018 issue, but the seasoned politician already has much more to tell.

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One of the biggest achievements of the city government last year was the launching of the 200 square-meter Museo de Legazpi, which showcases the history of the city in chronological order—from the Ibalong Epic, Sawangan, and the city’s precolonial roots up to recent history when Legazpi attained cityhood for the third time in 1959.

The numerous dioramas in the museum also portray the Spanish Era and the Old Albay District, as well as the Battle of Legazpi, which occurred during the American Occupation. During the museum’s inauguration, Rosal revealed that the city government spent nothing on its construction because of the public-private agreement with WholeGrain Land Inc.

Another location in the city that is steadily gaining the attention of both tourists and investors is Legazpi Boulevard. Numerous cafes and restaurants can be found along the boulevard that offers an excellent view of Mayon Volcano. Rosal reveals that the city’s 18-hole Mayon Golf Course is undergoing rehabilitation and sports enthusiasts are anticipating its reopening.

By 2020, Legazpi City aims to be the top convention destination in Luzon. The city has been working towards this goal for a long time, and through the years, they have been gradually shooting up the ranks. In 2016, Legazpi City was ranked 5th for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE).

On average, the city hosts around 93 MICE events per year. And in 2018, over 200 MICE events were held in Legazpi City. The thousands of delegates arriving in Legazpi for events account for much of the city’s 1.2 million domestic and foreign tourists. And the city is gearing up for more.

This year, the 5th International River Summit will be held in Legazpi City and expectations are running high. Around 3,000 delegates are expected to arrive and Rosal shares that preparations have started as early as 2018. “This will be a shining moment. It’s a perception of strength. We will be introducing [Legazpi City] to the world and this [event] will brand us as a tourism and convention city. We have to make the best of it,” Rosal says.

The Mayor believes that if the delegates are pleased with the city then naturally, as a “ripple effect,” more tourists will flock to Legazpi. Rosal poses the question, “How were you able to take advantage of the [situation], while there were delegates here?”

Rosal further stresses that tourists appreciate a city that is affordable, clean, visually appealing, has plenty of businesses such as restaurants and activities, and has accomodations, which offer excellent service. “That’s tourism. It’s ‘hitting two birds with one stone.’ It’s a convention, but you are promoting [the city as a tourist destination] at the same time,” he explains.

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