Learning & Innovation – October 19, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Build trust, build a competitive city
Tomas “Jun” Aguilar, planning and development officer, talks about Marikina, its leadership and its people with fondness and pride. He has all the reasons to feel that way, his city has been reaping awards and accolades by national and international award-giving bodies.
Jun says that “previous administrations had laid down the foundation on which we can build our future and shape our city’s landscape. Former Mayor Bayani "BF" Fernando has built a house and the incumbent Mayor Maria Lourdes C. Fernando will make it a home.” This was evident in the more than 40 awards that they have received so far. Initially they achieved excellence as cleanest and greenest town, best local government unit and recognized for their effort to save Marikina River. “We believe that discipline and values formation are the foundations of a great city. And because water offers many opportunities to people, it has to be considered when planning a city. We shall ride on the crest of rehabilitating the Marikina River. Like Singapore’s Clarke Quay it shall become Marikina’s signature image—a picturesque place for sports, leisure and entertainment.”
Leaders need to be purposive and have a bias for action to be trusted by their constituents. The first step the leadership of Marikina undertook is to craft a master plan. They first did a SWOT analysis and humbly acknowledged the many weaknesses of and threats to their city while they rejoice in their strengths and possibilities. Then, “In our desire to push our city into higher level of achievements, we thought of coming up with a vision of making Marikina a Little Singapore. There are those who ask, Why Singapore? And we answer back, Why not Singapore? We know it’s a tall order but we take cognizance of the fact that Rome was not built in a day; and, in the same vein, Marikina River was transformed from its battered condition years ago into what it is today when hardly anybody believed that it could be done.
“In line with this vision, our mission is to plan and facilitate the physical development of Marikina into a Cosmopolitan City of Excellence. We shall adopt a careful, sensitive and advance planning to guide our cities physical growth. We believe that nothing just happens it has to be planned.”
Recently, they were cited by World Bank as one of the four model cities in infrastructure in the the world. Other awards are WHO’s Model Healthy City in the Philippines, AIM’s Most Competitive City, Konrad Adenauer, Philippine Quality Award (Silver), Galing Pook Award (Hall of Fame) for Innovation and Excellence are recognition of excellence of their governance and various worthwhile projects geared at making Marikina the next Vancouver in 2015 and giving Marikenos a place not only for living, work and business, but also for history, socializing, entertainment, arts culture, tourism and sports, education and religion.
They have adopted English as their second language to make Marikina attractive to business investors in order to keep their human resources stay put and not to prepare them for jobs abroad. Making the city a home means keeping families intact.
Some of their other notable projects are relocation of squatters within the city so as not to uproot them from their studies and jobs; water faucet in every home; networked bikeways; clean food; free medical and health services; quick emergency response team among others.
Sidebar: BF used a firm and resolute hands, not iron fists, and a lot of patience and psywar. Jun shares the story of this influential judge and his neighbors who appropriated the sidewalk for their cock-breeding business. What BF did was talk to all the residents and home owners in that stretch of road and requested them to remove their personal properties from the sidewalk explaining the project for an orderly Marikina. The street and sidewalk were clean and clear in no time at all, except the one in front of a powerful person in authority. After a while, when this person noticed that his is the only place with obstructions, he voluntarily removed his cock and other paraphernalia and tidied that portion of the sidewalk.
Clearly, Chairman BF and Mayor Marides are doing great things for Marikina and Marikenos. They are worth emulating.
Call Jun Aguilar at 02-6829571. The business community, as well, could learn a lot about governance and performance excellence from the experience of Marikina.
(Moje consults on organization and human resource management and development and could be reached at email@example.com)