BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia urged his constituents to help him make the city surge ahead in growth and development.

The mayor said he needs everybody's support and cooperation, especially his fellow elected officials of the city, the department heads and the employees of the City Government and the people of Bacolod as a whole.

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This was his statement during his inaugural address last Saturday at the Government Center with guests Gretchen Cojuango, Senator Franlin Drilon, Saranggani Representative Manny Pacquaio and wife Jinkee, and Governor Chavit Singson, among others.

It is the fourth time that Leonardia swore as chief executive of Bacolod.

"My next three years will be like the last three minutes of a basketball game. The goal is there. While we may have done so much in the recent past, we cannot rest on our laurels. It is like riding a bicycle you have to keep the bicycle moving. If you stop pedaling, the bicycle will stop and you will lose the momentum and you could even fall. We therefore have to continue working for the good of our people. Let us not stop. Yes, I will never stop and I am sure that with your resounding show of trust and confidence in me, you will always be there to inspire me and keep me going."

Leonardia took some points from the inaugural speech of Pacquiao, which he considered a clear, simple but brilliant presentation: "Look back, look around, look forward and look up" in terms of the growth and development of Bacolod and what direction to take in the future.

Bacolod has grown as a city with the entry of call center industry, employing more than 7,000 people. The construction boom of P1 billion every year, hotel rooms increased from 1,612 rooms in the previous years to 2,644 rooms now. The city's budget in his first term as mayor was P618 million and now its P1.12 billion.

The city has also received several award:

• Third in the 10 next wave cities in the Philippines

• Second in Business Environment and Risk Management; Excellence in Economic Development Western Visayas in 2008-2009 in the Visayas;

• First runner up in Excellence in Social Services, Western Visayas;

• Third Besting Performing City, in Western Visayas;

• Top five national finalists in the Peace and Order Council;

• Top three in Best Disaster Coordinating Councils, national level;

• Most Business Friendly City in the Philippines;

• The Best Place to live in the Philippines by Money Sense; among others.

Moreover, the mayor also encouraged private sector's participation.

"I asked God to anoint and renew the third term of public service to Bacolenos with a fresh vision, fresh wisdom, and fresh energy to help us discern and carry out His beautiful plans for our people. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that built it. So let us not labor in vain. Let us ask the Lord to help build our city." Leonardia added. (Carla N. Canet)