By Christina M. Oriel

If you’ve never heard of the city of Legazpi, you soon will. Mayor Noel E. Rosal sits down with Balikbayan Magazine to share the infrastructure changes and tourism efforts happening in the next few years.

In this latest term, what are your objectives?

We changed our tagline to “City of Fun and Adventure” because we don’t want to compete with the white beaches, which we only have a few of in Albay. But we want to emphasize fun and adventure. We want a different kind of tourism called geo-tourism or eco-tourism.

We have the ATV tour, the manmade Boulevard development… and we are now building a new water sports [complex] that will really cater to families, so that we want to have a semblance of activities for the parents and children.

How does the local population fit into your tourism goals?

Legazpi City is the center of trading and education in the entire Bicolandia. A lot of people from [other provinces] come here to study, so sometimes we have more than the population [of 200,000], sometimes even twice. When I say trading, a lot of people from other provinces come to Legazpi for that.

We are now creating opportunities for everyone – for employment, especially in the retailing business. We want to be the trading center of this region. So all the needs from the clothes, necessary materials in the household or even in construction, we want to cater to the other six provinces of the Bicol region.

How is the development of the international airport?

The international airport is a dream come true for us. If you notice, we are always in the bottom twelve because the flights to Legazpi are not for all weather [types]. If rain comes, the plane cannot land. With the construction of this new airport, we will put not only Legazpi but the entire Bicol on the map as the next tourist destination. With this infrastructure, we will open direct flights because we are closer to Japan and Korea than they are to Manila. Hopefully it will be finished by 2016.

What are the components of the city’s Green Program?

Of course, no smoking. We started using solar power – it will be a five to ten year program. We’re also urging the public to use more LED lights. We have this tree-planting program each year [in which] we require that everyone in the public participate. This past Valentine’s Day 10,000 trees were planted.

How will you ensure that all of these projects (infrastructure, tourism, green program) will be sustainable for years to come?

Because of climate change, we’ve started identifying all those areas vulnerable to natural disasters. To be able to sustain [the projects], we are careful to pinpoint the investment areas – we have to be ahead of the investors – for resorts, water sports, BPOs. We are also looking into call centers [given] that Legazpi is the center of education in the region.

When in Legazpi, don’t miss…

  1. The Mayon Volcano
  2. Ligñon Hill Nature Park
  3. The Boulevard/Embarcadero for sailing, diving or butanding (whale shark) watching
  4. Cagsawa Ruins
  5. Pili nuts – the perfect pasalubong!  

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