BALANGA CITY: A MODEL FOR IMPROVING CITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

Balanga City is a first class city in the province of Bataan. A primary residential-agricultural city, it is Bataan’s capital city with a population of 84,105 people in 14,065 households.

The city’s name originated from word “balañga” which means “clay pot” or “banga” in Tagalog. The town was known to produce the best clay pots in the country.

Balanga City as seen from the top of Mt. Samat.(Photo source: Wikipedia)

Balanga City as seen from the top of Mt. Samat.
(Photo source: Wikipedia)

The city was formerly a visita of Abucay before it was established as a mission of the Dominican Order in the Provincial Chapter of April 21, 1714 and later declared a vicariate on April 18, 1739, under the patronage of Saint Joseph.

Upon the establishment of Bataan as a separate province in 1754, Balanga was made its capital by General Pedro Manuel Arandia due to its favorable location, at the heart of the new territorial jurisdiction.

Balanga City’s strategic location is instrumental in the city’s development as Bataan’s center of the trade, commerce, services and of course, education.

These sectors have complemented the economic output from agriculture and fisheries industry which provide livelihood to a large portion of the city’s families.

Prior to becoming a city, Balanga has extended its urban fringe to west of Roman Superhighway and a new growth center in Barangay Tuyo has been delineated in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

joet-garcia

Balanga City Mayor, Jose Enrique Garcia III.
(Photo source: http://www.banderablogs.wordpress.com)

Because of this development, the city experienced a high record of residential growth fueled by its improving economy.

The consequent expansion of the physical limits of the urban core as well as the expected large increases in population, and its attractiveness to commercial and employment activities, the City Government of Balanga decided to undertake a Master Planning exercise and to propose various developmental projects that would establish Balanga as a well-planned community with quality and character that is innovative and special, although this is currently hindered by an unreliable electricity supply.
Aside from this master plan, other developments in Balanga includes being transformed into  high-tech city where wi-fi internet connections are available in barangay halls and public schools, peace and security are enhanced by the installation of CCTV cameras at strategic location of the city.

Now, the City Government of Balanga is being provided with the right tools and access to efficiency, accountability and transparency in public areas through cyber world.

Investment records of the city.(Photo source: www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

Investment records of the city.
(Photo source: http://www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

Last year, the city recorded a record-breaking P6.1B of investment. “I am delighted to report that according to the City Planning and Development Office, the amount of investments that entered our city this 2012 is a record-breaking P6.1 billion,” Balanga Mayor, Jose Enrique Garcia III said during his State of City Address.

These include the improved income of the Balanga City Public Market amounting to P16.5 million and P500,000 from the slaughterhouse. Partnerships with New San Jose Builders and EBA Construction resulted to P11 million in lease payments.

Revenues from real property tax totaled to P63 million, putting the City Assessor’s Office and City Treasury Office as the most accomplished in Central Luzon. The number of registered businesses also increased to 3,239 which correspondingly jacked up business permit collections to P50 million.

Because of the developments, the booming city is now a haven for investors and indeed has a bright future.

One of the projects of the City Government is making Balanga to become "A World Class University Town by 2020” (Photo source: www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

One of the projects of the City Government is making Balanga to become “A World Class University Town by 2020”
(Photo source: http://www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

The Balanga City Government has projects that contribute to its growing economy. One of the projects is making Balanga to become “A World Class University Town by 2020”.

The LGU has come up with the City Ordinance No. 21, Series of 2008, “Declaring the eighty and forty-two (80.42) hectares at the city’s central district as University Town in the City of Balanga, Bataan” with school sites beyond this as the satellite areas.

This ordinance shall be considered as an integral part of the existing Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the currently being updated Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan of the City of Balanga.

All businesses to be constructed/put up within the area shall conform to the present utilization as indicated to work positively on the ideals, concepts and purposes of creation of the University Town Area.

The conceptual proposed land use within the university town is as follows:

  • Residential zone/area covers 41.5121 hectares or 51.62% of the total proposed university town area.
  • Commercial zone/area occupies around 12.6795 hectares or 15.77% of the total proposed university town area and located at the heart of university town.
  • Institutional zone/area, schools, churches, city hall and other public/institutional building utilize around 18.5133 hectares or 23.02% of the total proposed university town area.
  • Parks and recreation zone/area like parks and playground within the university town comprises 0.6007 hectares or 0.75% of the total proposed university town area.

Tourism is also contributing to the economy of Balanga. Among the tourism sites worthy to be visited are Galeria Victoria, Balanga Surrender site marker, Fall of Bataan marker, Balanga Cathedral, and the famous Balanga Wetland and Nature Park where everyone can view its beautiful bird watching.

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park (Photo source: www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park
(Photo source: http://www.cityofbalanga.gov.ph)

Nestled in the Northeastern part of Balanga City, the park is envisioned as a natural outdoor museum, showcasing the magnificence of a well-diversified bionetwork.

The Department of Tourism now recognizes the park as one of the newest bird watching sites in the Philippines as indicated by influx of rare endemic birds and migratory birds. The site is not only an alley but a haven for these birds.

The DOT is also looking to add the park’s annual Ibong Dayo Festival to its list of national calendar of events because of the increasing number of foreign and local tourists in the event which promotes the benefit of migratory birds and their correlation with the environment, the festival maintained its run unlike other galas that discontinued due to changing government administrations.

With sources from:

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