Transforming Legazpi into a Green City
Legazpi, Albay moves forward with its efforts on green growth and sustainable development
BY MAIELLE MONTAYRE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MANUEL GENEROSO
At the foothills of the majestic Mayon Volcano, located on the shores of Albay Gulf, right in the heart of
the Bicol Peninsula, lies a fastgrowing metropolis. A city that has become almost synonymous to its most popular tourist destination, Legazpi attracts over a million tourists each year who are eager to gaze at the
beauty and grandeur of the famous perfectcone volcano. Apart from tourism, the city of Legazpi, as provincial capital of Albay, stands as a growing business and commercial hub in Southern Luzon. Recognized nationwide for its enduring efforts, Legazpi continues to make progressive changes towards sustainable
economies and nationwide competitiveness.
FROM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVELegazpi was originally a barangay called Sawangan, a settlement of fishermen and farmers. The town was under the administration of the Franciscan friars of the Doctrina of
Cagsawa. The old village was renamed as Legazpi by Royal Decree dated September 22, 1856, in honor of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Basque-Spanish conquistador and governor who annexed the Philippine Islands to Spain in 1565.
On February 1, 1814, the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Mayon caused devastation in Sawangan, burying many towns. The Cagsawa Ruins, a popular tourist attraction today, are all that remains of the town of Cagsawa. Nevertheless, locals continue to settle around the slopes of the volcano despite the threat of recurring eruptions.
Legazpi became a city under the Becerra Law of 1892, but reverted to being a municipality during the American occupation. After the Second World War, Legazpi became a city for the second time on July 18, 1948, under Republic Act (RA) No. 306. It was to be dissolved again, returning to its status as a town.
Finally, on June 12, 1959, Legazpi became a city again, for the third time, under R.A. No. 2234, and it remains such to this day.
The city is also the regional center of the Bicol Region and the capital of the province of Albay. It aims to be one of top five convention destinations in the Philippines for meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE). In 2016, 91 MICE were held in Legazpi; 140 in 2017; and 87 as of August 2018. The city has the Legazpi City Convention Center with 3,000 seating capacity and the Ibalong Center for Recreation with 5,000 capacity, aside from many convention centers and hotels.
The city of Legazpi has garnered many notable awards. In 2007, Legazpi City was named by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as one of the most business-friendly cities in Southern Luzon. In 2014, it placed second in the Most Livable Cities Design Challenge by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation. It also received the 2014 Best City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) under Component/Independent City category; Gawad Kalasag Hall of Famer in 2015; and the Seal of Good Local Governance in 2016. In 2018, Legazpi was awarded first in Overall Competitiveness among component cities by the NCC. At the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit, Legazpi ranked first in infrastructure among the 145 component cities in the Philippines and second in economic dynamism.
The incumbent mayor is Noel E. Rosal, who was re-elected in 2013. He began his career as barangay chairman of Barangay Gogon before serving as city councilor. He initially won as mayor in 2001, completing
three consecutive terms thereafter before his re-election.