THE people’s participation in local governance has impressed Belgian officials on a sister-city visit to Cebu City, that the practice has given them an idea on how to reach out to their own people.

They were also mesmerized by the Sinulog, which celebrated its 30th year exactly a week ago.

Kortrijk City Deputy Mayor Alain Cnudde said they have never seen anything like the grand parade.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

“They told us it was special; and I have to admit it’s better than special. I have never seen a fiesta like (it) before,” he told the Cebu City Council last Wednesday, three days before the delegation left yesterday.

“Everybody and everything is involved; working together and finding each other in this event, on so many different levels. The organization is very well-organized and for the City of Cebu it means such a wonderful promotion,” he said.

Cnudde said he would present the idea of one vision, a grand festival, promotion, and involvement of all people through a festivity like the Sinulog to their city.

“One day I can invite you to Kortrijk to a festival on that same level,” he told the City Council.

On why he noticed how people get involved in Cebu City, Cnudde said they found it hard to overcome the indifference of their people towards governance.

In Cebu, he said, a lot of organizations are actively participating in the affairs of the City.

Helping out

“We noticed a lot of organizations developing and investing in participatory governance and planning. It changed our ideas of reaching out to the public,” he said.

He cited as example how the City helps the barangays in its finances yet letting them decide for themselves how to go about each of their business.

“(It) was for us a very interesting item which we now are exploring in Kortrijk,” he said.

And aside from exchange students, Cnudde said Cebu and Kortrijk could also explore the possibility of a cultural exchange, especially on designs, saying their place is “a city of innovation, creation and design.”

He thanked Cebu for helping for the sister-city relationship, which he said helped them learn a lot.

“It has changed our worldview and will inspire us in our governance activities and as individuals. We are grateful for this experience,” he said.