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Cebu’s economic miracle has been attributed to its successful mobilization of several engines of development – tourism, investments, a large army of professionals and skilled workers, and creative entrepreneurial spirit among Sugbuanons.
Cebu’s transformation as the country’s leading metropolis clearly resulted from “smart growth,” engineered by self-actualized leaders who have moved above and beyond old, mooted mind-sets, by focusing on specific, achievable and measurable goals and demand outcomes.
It is admittedly a jolt to realize that this leadership genre which redirected Cebu along new adventurous growth paths came from the Osmeñas, the epitome of old political power and tradition, whose continuous dominance of Cebu’s socio-political landscape started in the 1940s when the grand Osmeña patriarch, Don Sergio Osmeña founded the Partido Nacionalista and won the Presidency.
Don Sergio Osmeña’s son, former Senator Sergio “Serging” Osmeña, become the country’s foremost economist, who led the progress of Cebu City and Central Visayas, by building the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and the Mactan airport, which was recently named as Asia Pacific Regional Airport of the Year by the CAPA-Center for Aviation in Singapore.
“Serging’s” son, Tomas (“Tommy”), Cebu City’s incumbent mayor who, together with his cousin, Emilio Mario Osmeña (“Lito”), the country’s first Federalism advocate, are the acknowledged innovators who paved the way for Cebu’s current economic surge.
In a recent interview with a group of media executives led by Anthony Cabangon Chua, publisher of Business Mirror, Mayor Tommy gave an inkling on the secret of Cebu’s swift economic progress: “It’s keeping faith with our father, Serging’s philosophy of anticipating the problem and providing the solution.”
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, “Tommy,” who holds an Agricultural Economics degree, after a stint with SEROS, Inc. and Import-Export Bank of the United States, engineered Cebu’s projection as an autonomous haven for big business, and later outstripped Imperial Manila’s dominance in politics and business
As Cebu City Mayor, Tommy, former two-term Cebu congressman, now leads a movement towards “creating an environment of emerging leaders who can develop strategic visions, build teams and remove stumbling blocks that hinder true corporate unity, the key to the full flowering of Cebu as a leading catalyst for economic progress.”
His strategy speaks eloquently: “Nowhere in our laws or public policies do we see the reality that running a government is not by ‘governing,’ but by providing our people services which other sectors of society cannot give.”