By Amado Inigo
MANILA — “The activities that we have prepared are meant to unite us and be one as we pave the way towards progress and development.”
So said Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Wednesday on the eve of the capital city’s 450th Founding Anniversary, which falls today Thursday, 24 June 2021.
“With our celebration’s theme of “Maynila, Dalhin Mo Ang Bandila,” we, Manilenyos should be exemplary role models and charge the path for our city to trailblaze and lead the country as we have been doing in the past 449 years,” added the local chief executive who engineered a huge turnaround of Manila from urban blight and environmental decadence.
Under Moreno’s able leadership, Manilenos now enjoy the feel of a clean city, a sense of orderliness and direction, a big turnaround from eyesores from everywhere aside from poor environmental maintenance.
Manila has a colorful history.
Before the coming of the Spaniards in the 14th century, Maynila started out as Maynilad, coined from an indigo plant that grew abundantly along the Pasig River and Manila Bay.
History had it that then Governor General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1570 chosen Maynilad to be the capital of the new colony when compelled to move out of Cebu to Panay by Portuguese pirates, upon hearing of the place as a thriving center of commerce in Luzon.
HIstory books also provide that the ruler of Maynilad then was “Rajah Soliman who was willing to befriend the Spaniards, led by Martin de Goiti, but did not submit authority to the foreign contingent. War ensued and when the settlement was razed to the ground and Soliman died, de Goiti successfully made an alliance with the ruler of Tondo, Rajah Lakandula, that enabled Catholicism to enter, thrive and establish authority over the natives.”
“With missions, parishes and schools established by almost every Roman Catholic religious order, the center – which was to become Intramuros with walls built around as fortress against pirate attack and foreign invasion – Manila also became the education hub, seat of political power and cultural harbinger” an article by Manila Times said.
Indeed, Manila has many colorful and painful segments in its history.
It also witnessed several Chinese revolts for losing free trade, the most memorable of which was the attack of Limahong; the Dutch raid in mid-17th century; the short British Occupation from 1762 to 1764; Spanish-American War; Filipino revolt against Spain; Filipino-American War; American Occupation; World War 2 and Japanese Occupation – Manila retained its charm and place in world map as premier city of the Orient.
However, it lost its distinction as the national capital in 1948 but President Ferdinand Marcos on May 29, 1976, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 940, returned the national capital to Manila, while the area was prescribed as Metro Manila to be the seat of national government.
Behind Moreno’s leadership, the City Government of Manila implemented a sound pandemic response program as the city launched the Covid-19 Food Security Program (FSP) way back February 2021 with around 700,000 families in Manila each receiving a monthly food box containing three kilos of rice, 16 canned goods, and eight sachets of coffee.
Aside from this, Manila also has a laudable mass vaccination program and as of June 16, 2021, the City of Manila has deployed 461,409 vaccines, with 328,028 done with their first dose and 133,381 already with their second dose.
Since the Martial Law years until People Power Revolution up to the first decade-and-a-half of the new millennium, many leaders have occupied the seat of power at the Manila City Hall, but it was only on the assumption of Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso that there came a great renewal in the mental, spiritual and physical well-being of both the city and its residents.
As the city marks its 450th Founding Anniversary, this year could be the most memorable one as Manila made it one of 50 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayors Challenge (GMC).
A total of 631 cities from 99 countries participated in the GMC and fortunately Manila, along with Butuan City, got selected from among entries in the entire Philippines under the Asia-Pacific category. The others are Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand; Daegu in South Korea; Pune and Rourkela in India; and Taipei in Taiwan.
“I would like to share the recognition with all Manilans both in and out of the city government. Whatever achievements are reached by the city, there is no way that I would have been able to do them all by myself. The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge is an innovation competition that will identify and accelerate the most ambitious ideas developed by cities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic,'” Moreno said.
The GMC is giving out $1 million to each of the 15 grand prize winners on top of a multi-year support to implement and spread their breakthrough ideas.
As Yorme always says, “Kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ring mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!” (ai/mtvn)