By IGNACIO R. BUNYE
At 24, Muntinlupa City is one of the youngest cities in the Philippines. But it has already become one of the most competitive in terms of local governance, financial administration, infrastructure, and quality of life for its more than half a million residents.
A sleepy farming and fishing community up to the ‘80s, Muntinlupa began its gradual but steady rise to urbanization later in the decade.
On March 1, 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law Muntinlupa’s City Charter, which converted Muntinlupa from a municipality into a highly urbanized city.
Last Friday, Muntinlupeños, headed by Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi, marked their cityhood anniversary with the soft opening of Museo ng Muntinlupa in the morning and the traditional State of the City Address in the afternoon.
The latest addition to the many landmarks of Muntinlupa, the Museo is a 5-story modern edifice which presents the history and culture of Muntinlupa dating back to the pre-colonial era.
Situated along Muntinlupa’s Centennial Avenue, It not only showcases heritage but also provides a platform for contemporary arts and performing artists.
Mayor Fresnedi proudly enumerates what he called the “edu-tainment” features of the Museo which is still a work-in-progress – immersive tunnels, sound maps, inter-active galleries for kids and kids-at-heart, a research center, meeting areas, and a state-of-the-art 200-seat theater.
The building is PWD-friendly and will soon be partially solar-powered.
City architect Don Causapin said the building’s design was inspired by the “baklad” – a traditional fish trap used by Muntinlupa fishermen along the shores of Laguna de Bay.
An integral part of Muntinlupa’s history – portrayed in the Museo – is the New Bilibid Prison. After the war, Japanese war criminals found guilty by a War Crimes Commission for atrocities were jailed there.
Two top Japanese generals – Tomoyuki Yamashita and Masaharu Homma – were executed. 18 other lesser officers were hanged but the remaining 106 were subsequently pardoned by President Elpidio Quirino.
The presidential pardon was totally unexpected. The Japanese killed Quirino’s wife and three children, and five other members of his family while the Battle of Manila raged in February, 1945.
The selfless act of Quirino – whom Japanese Empress Michiko described during her 2017 visit as the one who “forgave the unforgivable” – hastened the conversion of the Filipino and Japanese peoples from the worst of enemies to the best of friends.
The Muntinlupa Sports Center, where Fresnedi gave his State of the City Address later in the afternoon, was packed to the rafters by current and former Muntinlupa officials, representatives of the Philippine Chamber of Industries-Muntinlupa, representatives of civic groups , NGO’s, the education sector, partner agencies from the national government, and ordinary folks.
Among the attendees were Ruffy Biazon, representative of the lone district of Muntinlupa City, former senator/congressman Rodolfo Pong Biazon, senatorial candidate Mar “Mr. Palengke” Roxas, who was the guest speaker, and this writer, who initiated the cityhood of Muntinlupa and thereafter served as its very first city mayor.
In his address, Fresnedi recognized the contribution of the city’s top ten taxpayers during the previous year.
They were (from 1 to 10):
– Ford Group Philippines, Inc.
– FilinvestAlabang, Inc.
– Filinvest Land, Inc.
– Manila Electric Company
– Alabang Commercial Corporation
– Amkor Technology Philippines, Inc.
– Cyzerzone Properties, Inc.
– Ayala Land, Inc.
– Toyota Alabang, Inc.
– Genpact Services LLC Philippines, Inc.
Fresnedi also underscored the accomplishments of the city government during the previous year, to wit:
– Full repayment, ahead of schedule, of the P2-billion loan incurred by the previous administration.
– Increase of local government scholars from 5,581 in 2013 to 65,000 in 2019.
– Completion of an extension building in the Ospital ng Muntinlupa.
– Purchase of emergency response vehicles for the barangays.
– Zero-interest loans for 6,500 Muntinlupeño micro-entrepreneurs.
– 2.18 billion business tax collection in 2019 (up 166 % from 2012).
– Back-to-back “Most Business Friendly LGU” awards conferred by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Within the foreseeable future, Fresnedi said that Muntinlupeños can expect the construction/completion of the following:
– A central records depository building.
– Colegio de Muntinlupa building 2.
– City columbarium and crematorium.
– Barangay Poblacion evacuation center – in preparation for “The Big One.”
– Muntinlupa aquatic center.
– Lakeview senior high school building.
– Muntinlupa track and field.
– Lakeview housing project.
Going by Fresnedi’s record, the promised infrastructure projects are as good as done.
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