ANOTHER leaf in the history of the City of Biñan has just turned as it commemorated its 13th Cityhood, 78th Liberation Day and 276th Foundation Anniversary from February 2 to 4, 2023, respectively.
More than the revelry of looking back at its rich historic past, what made the celebration more meaningful is its transition to an emerging economic hub not only in the province of Laguna, but also in the entire Southern Tagalog region, as well as setting a benchmark for local good governance worth emulating nationwide.
“That alone is a testament that a certain town or city can be fixed, but you need a government and leaders with a clear vision,” Mayor Walfredo “Arman” Dimaguila, Jr. told the members of the local and national media during their press briefing held at the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan (Old Municipal Building) on the first day of the festivities.
The local chief executive revealed that the City Council has green lighted their P3.2 billion budget for this year to finance their priority programs and projects for the benefit of their constituents, business community and stakeholders.
He added that the local government unit (LGU) of Biñan has secured a 10-year loan from the Landbank of the Philippines worth P3.150 billion.
House of local legislators, national govt hub
WITH its continued land banking efforts for current and future use, the mayor bared that the LGU has also other properties in barangays Mamplasan, De La Paz and Poblacion—each spanning at three hectares.
The latter, where the seat of government and other historical and heritage sites abound, will soon witness the rise of a new Legislative Building. This is in preparation for the proposed division of the lone district of Biñan City into two, where each will have eight members elected to the city council and two representatives in Congress.
“We expect it to be passed into law before the end of this year,” Rep. Marlyn “Len” Alonte-Naguiat added, while hoping the positive impact of their city’s separate congressional representation in 2015 will also be replicated once the planned split materialized.
The city government, likewise, plans to put up a Local Government Center. Sen. Joel Villanueva extended P100 million to finance this project to entice national agencies to put up their hubs to bring their services closer to Biñanenses.
Per the mayor, the City Council has received a public-private partnership (PPP) proposal to put up a mall in the P60 million state-owned three-hectare of land, which will then accommodate the offices of the National Bureau of Investigation, SSS, GSIS, Register of Deeds, and Department of Foreign Affairs, among others, on the 4th and 5th floors.
SINCE health is among the top priorities of the local officials, the Ospital ng Biñan is currently being constructed and will be a secondary hospital with more than 180 beds, including an intensive care unit, to better serve the local residents and those from nearby cities or municipalities.
“Hopefully, by December of this year, we will open our three-story Biñan Hospital Center,” Vice Mayor Angelo “Gel” B. Alonte said.
Adjacent to the hospital is a Dialysis Center. Apart from offering free services to the locals and accommodating the paying non-residents, Rep. Alonte emphasized that they will also strengthen the capabilities of their nephrologists to correct the wrong notion about their incompetence.
“I believe that our doctors, especially in Biñan, are very competitive and the best here in Southern Tagalog. So that will strengthen our health programs,” she underscored.
Araw ng Biñan Festivities
THE opening day of the three-day Araw ng Biñan celebration last week witnessed the ground breaking of the Sentro ng Patanghal na Sining, or the Biñan City Performing Arts Building, to hone the creative talents of the young populace.
Also inaugurated was the nearby new Plaza Rizal, also in Barangay Poblacion. This is surrounded by the Old Municipal Building, the historic Alberto Mansion and the grandiose Los Maduros Bandstand.
These sites, according to Rep. Alonte, make Biñan a national historical, cultural heritage zone. With the Galing Pook Awards recipient “Balik Biñan Project: Tourism Development Through Heritage Conservation,” she said: “I’m sure, many tourists will visit us here which, in turn, will strengthen our tourism industry and local economy. Of course, the intangible effect would be eye-opening of the youth’s love for their culture, heritage, and history.”
“With the help of the members of our City Council, we enacted ordinances and resolutions to further strengthen and facilitate the local chief executive’s priority projects for the benefits of all Biñanenses,” Vice Mayor Alonte said.
NOW that the country is moving towards the end of the pandemic given the continued decline of Covid-19 cases nationwide, Dimaguila looks forward to a more vibrant Biñan as another milestone in its history unfolded.
“We want our economic activities back, including those businesses that closed at the height of the health crisis,” he told the BusinessMirror in an interview.
In fact, he said that the city’s P200 million Covid-19 response funds was already drained that they had to cancel some of their infrastructure projects in order to make sure that each household would receive financial support from the LGU.
“We want to transition from ayuda-based or dole out [aid]. That’s why while the other [LGUs] were giving ayuda, we build schools, hospitals [and other infrastructures needed for the reopening of the economy and future crisis],” he explained. “Now, we are back [to the old normal, with our city’s] programs and projects.”
FOR the first time since the ensuing health crisis made the in-person activities impossible in almost three years, Biñanenses enjoyed the face-to-face celebrations of the Araw ng Biñan.
Kicking off this festivity was the formal opening rites at Plaza Rizal, followed by the Grand People’s Parade. A groundbreaking ceremony for the legacy project of Mayor Dimaguila, the “Sentro ng Patanghal na Sining,” then happened besides the Old Municipal Building. Next was a press conference where the above cited programs and plans of the city government were unveiled by the local chief executive, Vice Mayor Alonte and Congresswoman Naguiat, the so-called “Big Three.” A Thanksgiving Mass at the San Isidro Labrador Diocesan Shrine was heard in the afternoon. Capping of the day was a Thanksgiving Dinner at the Historic Alberto Mansion.
The second day saw the “Art in Public Spaces: Pot Painting Competition”, the “Pasasalamat sa mga Beteranong Biñanense”, the Unveiling of the Galing Pook Award Marker, and the 3rd Biñan City Sining Musikahan: Drum and Lyre Band Competition—all held at Plaza Rizal. The Holy Infant Jesus of Prague Catholic School won the Art in Public Spaces competition while the Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School was named the winner in the Drum and Lyre Band Competition. A Film Viewing of the critically-acclaimed international movie “Triangle of Sadness” happened at Southwoods Mall Cinema 1. In the evening was the Araw ng Biñan 2023 Concert at Evangelista Bridge top billed by national and local artists.
What’s best to mark the last day of the occasion was the cause-oriented events, such as Serbisyong Arman Dental Health Caravan at the San Vicente Covered Court and Serbisyong Arman Mega Job Fair at Pavilion Mall. The 6th Biñan National Choral Competition was staged at the Biñan City Auditorium. The winner of the Choral Competition was the Letran Singing Ambassadors. Pangasinan Rep. Christopher V. De Venecia graced the “Pagkilala sa mga Manggagawa ng Museo ng Timog Katagalugan” at the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan. Concluding this affair was the 5th Biñan Folk Dance Festival in Plaza Rizal which was won by the Saint Michael’s College of Laguna.