I’ve lived my years largely in a city that is awake before the sun rises and asleep before the stroke of midnight. If Laoag were a woman, she’d be a natural beauty, dressed in modern day baro’t saya, possibly designed by the Amor of the local fashion world, and ready to wow the world with her air of confidence and innate ability to dance to the throbbing beat reverberating from around her.
Entering the city proper from the south, a dike skirts a coy cityscape, towered by a colonial era bell tower. On the left hand side, a brick edifice stands dignified and humble. In the very center near the end of the Marcos Bridge, a skyward monument serves as a reminder of freedom from the suffocating claws of power.
I just learned at the UNESCO Resilient Cities, Brighter Futures forum-workshop held in Laoag — in a past study on Business Risk Assessment and Management of Climate Change Impacts for Philippine Cities conducted by the joint forces of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation, Laoag emerged the least vulnerable city.
To quote WWF, “In a sense, it exemplifies how communities should be situated in a climate-defined future. The city center is positioned in gently-rolling, mostly flat terrain, about six kilometers from the coast. A broad expanse of sand dunes stretching from Currimao to the north serves as a natural barrier to protect the city from sea level rise and storm surge effects. Though much less vulnerable, Laoag’s city center and its international airport sit along a meandering river that has occasionally been known for floods. High agricultural self-sufficiency is further boosted by low population growth. Leveraged by the region’s high functional literacy, Laoag’s main source of income comes from the remittances of Ilocanos working abroad.”
To all the leaders that have served this city of mine, I owe you my thanks for taking care of home. For all the strong foundation you’ve built — the nurturing schools you’ve supported, the mellow culture you’ve influenced, that ordinary friendly feeling, the opportunities we enjoy today and also the other things we don’t need to enjoy today and in the future.
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