ORMOC City’s economy is booming and there’s no turning back.
Business leader Apple Alagon has this forecast on the business and investment prospects in the city under the administration of Mayor Richard Gomez and his wife, Leyte Fourth District Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez.
“The investment atmosphere is picking up. I can’t say where we are for sure but business-wise, more people are coming to Ormoc to invest in businesses, franchise or homegrown,” said Alagon, who is now the elected president of Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay.
“We recently had a Local Government Unit-Ormoc Chamber Kapihan talk at the Multipurpose Hall sometime May this year. The talk was about ‘Preparing Ormoc Towards Urbanization’ where we acknowledged the presence of big players in the city,” she added.
Alagon, who owns JO’s Milagrina chain of restaurants, added that they have seen many opportunities for growth with the opening of Robinsons Place Ormoc in April and the upcoming SM Center and Metro Gaisano.
“Obviously, they see Ormoc City as a prime area where they can grow their businesses which also translates to more job opportunities and more tourists in the city,” she added.
In 2017, the city registered a total of 1,366 establishments. As of July 19 this year, it has already 896 number of establishments.
Recalling the “successful” pineapple festival and fiesta celebration in the city last month, Alagon waxed nostalgic, saying that Ormoc “has finally woken up.”
“Usually June would pass with nothing really happening in Ormoc. But the last two years proved to be different,” Alagon told SunStar Philippines.
“I’ve been living here for 10 years and this is the only time I’ve really felt the festivities in the air and the celebration of the feast of patron saints Peter and Paul,” she said.
Estrella Serafica-Pangilinan, chairman of the Ormoc Festival and Cultural Foundation, said that the launching of their Piña Festival is their “modest way” of giving tribute to their patron saints for the “countless blessings” they received.
Gomez also said they continue to prioritize the agri-production and promotion of its world-class “Queen Pineapple” variety to sustain the livelihood and increase the income of the farmers.
“There’s a huge demand for our juicy, crunchy, and sweet pineapple, but we can only meet the requirement of Eastern Visayas and some establishments in Cebu,” Gomez added.
About 500 hectares of the city’s land is planted with pineapple, producing over 100 tons every year.
In 2017, Ormoc has P1,226,341,583 total budget. For this year, it has increased to P1,320,923,786. By next year, it will have 1,457,990,318 budget sourced out from Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), local sources, local economic enterprises, other sources, and share from the national coffer.
“Peace and order is the main thrust in the city. If peace and order are good, it would be easy for investors to come in,” said the actor turned mayor.
With their anti-drug campaign, Gomez said they were able to bring down the crime rate in Ormoc, making it as the first “drug-free” and “safest’ city in the country for 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018.
“People are not afraid to walk along our streets during night time,” said Gomez as they’re also set to replace 1, 720 headlamps in their streets to illuminate and help secure the city.
“It’s just a matter of political will. We are not a perfect city, but we tried that our crime problem will be eliminated,” the first-termed mayor said.
In their disaster response, the mayor said they continue to turn over housing units to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Victims from typhoons and earthquakes in 2017 also received help.
Aside from equipping their disaster-response units, the mayor said that they’ve prepositioned the relief goods to deliver immediate aid as natural disasters continue to threaten the city.
Over 6,000 people died in the city due to a massive flood 27 years ago.
In 2013, at least 33 persons were killed when Yolanda hit the Eastern Visayas region. Typhoon and earthquakes in 2017 also killed four and injured another 100.
According to Gomez, they have prioritized disaster risk reduction and management program in their yearly budget.
As Ormoc keeps its record for being the “city of beautiful people,” this also entails the support and cooperation of its residents, the mayor said.
For its vibrant economy, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry dubbed Ormoc as the “Most Business-friendly city” in the region in 2005.
“In 2016, we’re hitting about 100,000 tourist arrivals. In our latest data, we are already in 300,000,” said Gomez.
Gomez said that the “charm,” “resiliency,” and "faith in God" of the locals helped sustain its tourism and economic activities.
Monsignor Ramon Aguilos of Palo Archdiocese also acknowledged the priests of Sts Peter and Paul parish church “for their spiritual leadership and inspiration” and Gomez “for his efforts at making Ormoc sizzle with life.”
Based from the 2015 census, the city has 215, 031 population.
A first-class independent component city in Leyte province, Ormoc is expected to hit 360,218 in population by 2025.
As this developed, Alagon said they are looking at how the local business can adapt to these changes.