Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Speech: Welcome Dinner hosted by Kortrijk City officials, Belgium

By Councilor Alvin M. Dizon

A very pleasant evening to everyone - Goedenavond ("KHOO dun AH fohnt")
In behalf of the Cebu City Government and the people of Cebu, let me extend my sincerest appreciation for inviting us to be here to the beautiful city of Kortrijk - Dank u wel ("dahnk oo vel")

Two years ago, I was also doing international cooperation work under the Olof Palme Center as a Regional Coordinator for Asia. I was so in love with the job because it placed me in a very good perspective to understand and appreciate development issues in a macro context. The 5 years with Olof Palme Centre thus led me to an important conclusion--we are more similar than different.

Interestingly, the more I see what’s happening beyond the borders of my country, the more I was drawn to go back into serving it again as I have gained valuable insights and learning from the years of international cooperation work. I was privileged to be given the opportunity to serve my fellow Filipinos and Cebuanos when I got elected as Cebu City councilor and now on my first year.

Recognizing my extensive exposure in international cooperation, I was given the Vice-chairmanship of the Committee on Tourism and Foreign Relations of the Cebu City council and was designated as the point person of the City as far as the city-to-city cooperation with Kortrijk is concerned.

The vital importance of international cooperation, exchange and linkaging among local governments cannot be underemphasized in a world that has evolved from the struggle to independence towards increased solidarity and interdependence and cooperation rather than exclusion.

The world functions as a single integrated unit and enhanced regional and international collaboration among local governments should be the norm as this has proven to be mutually beneficial to not only address development issues at the local level through international assistance but combating global issues as well such as climate change, terrorism, global poverty and hunger, and other transboundary issues and concerns.

In this highly integrated world, it is even difficult to dichotomize (divide) between local and global issues as both reinforce each other. International cooperation is an important learning tool in understanding the social, political, environmental and economic issues that face other parts of the world.

It is within this context that the Cebu City government commits its governance towards forging partnerships with the city of Kortrijk as international cooperation has direct relevance to our local community concerns, effective service delivery, and increased awareness and understanding.

Exchange visits like these can provide a unique experience and insight into the lifestyles and environment of another community where rich insights can be source of inspiration and replication. International cooperation can link directly into this work by giving us the opportunity to collaborate with counterparts overseas and to share information and experience in a number of service areas to make us more effective and meaningful public servants to our constituents.

The partnerships between Cebu and Kortrijk provides an opportunity to put our two cities and cultures together. More importantly, twinning can increase our understanding of the world and can bring together all members of our local communities, regardless of age, ethnic or religious background, gender, disability or social or economic status.

With this, let me extend again my heartfelt appreciation to the city of Kortrijk for this invitation. We look forward to an interesting and fruitful exchanges in the coming days. And there’s no best gift that we can bring to our constituents than a renewed and reinvigorated spirits equipped with valuable learning to benefit the communities we serve