BACOLOD City renewed its sisterhood ties with Long Beach City in California, USA in rites held at the One World Trade Center of the West Coast’s port city over the weekend.

Bacolod was represented by Councilors Caesar Distrito and Em Ang, and City Administrator John Orola during the meeting with Long Beach officials led by Tyler Curley, legislative deputy of Mayor Robert Garcia, and Dr. Mary Barton, chairperson of the Sister Cities of Long Beach Inc.

Ang, who chairs the City Council’s committee on tourism, presented Bacolod’s 10-year economic development plan while Orola, on behalf of Mayor Evelio Leonardia, invited the officials of Long Beach to witness the MassKara Festival in October.

The sisterhood between the two cities was established in 1994, but the ties became dormant for almost two decades.

Upon the initiatives of Joe Gamboa, a US citizen based in California, and Joey Montalvo, who heads a Negros-based advocacy group, the sisterhood ties has been revived through the Long Beach-Bacolod Association Inc. (LBBAI).

Last April, the Bacolod City Council passed a resolution approving the re-activation of sister city relations with Long Beach, whose own legislative council endorsed the long-awaited revival through a similar process shortly thereafter.

There is a large Filipino-American community in Long Beach and the Greater Los Angeles area, with many coming from the four Visayan regions, including a sizeable number from Bacolod and the Negros Island Region.

Both cities are recognized as educational centers in their respective regions.

The California State University at Long Beach is eager to have student exchange programs with the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos and the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod.

A trade and investment delegation from the Fil-Am community in Southern California will attend this year’s Masskara Festival.

The LBBAI also plans to stage the first-ever “MassKara sa Long Beach” in April 2018, with visiting delegates from the private and public sectors of Bacolod. (PR)