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Random thoughts on BLISTT
by Alexander L. Bangsoy

It is suggested that a new study about the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) concept must be conducted because changes in the environment and the market might have rendered the previous European-sponsored BLISTT study obsolete. From a developer’s point of view, there are three important things to make  BLISTT work. These are public-private partnership, market study, and local government units readiness.

Public-private partnership

The BLISTT concept will not work if the public and private sector will not team up as early as the planning phase until the execution phase of the project. For example, there is a clamor for the  Loakan Airport to be operational but unless a private airline will agree to operate and provide flights, the airport will just become another white elephant. More importantly, no airline will want to operate unless it is financially viable, meaning there is a  market  for it that would  justify the cost of operations.

This is the same with BLISTT. Designating uses for industrial, tourism, or residential zones in the BLISTT areas will be useless unless the private sector will establish needed businesses in these  designated areas, which brings us to the second point.

Market study

Aside from the limited employment opportunities in government, there is no denying that the bulk of job generation comes from the private sector. However, the private sector will only be enticed to establish businesses in the BLISTT once it is convinced it has a market for it.

As a developer, I could see four feasible core businesses that could fuel the BLISTT concept. These are tourism, business process outsourcing (BPOs), education, and real estate development.

The best bet here of course is tourism. With the onslaught of climate change in  terms of extreme hot weather all over the country, the temperate weather in  the BLISTT makes it an attractive tourism investment area. This is in synergy with the general trend and national thrust of taipans and major businessmen in the country now where they are investing heavily on domestic and foreign tourism.

In tourism, the BLISTT could do a lot of innovations from the bread and butter tourism play. The BLISTT could strengthen its eco-tourism beyond ziplines, sports tourism, medical, and educational tourism.

Another good bet for the BLISTT would be BPOs. The BPO industry is not a technology business but a human resource business. With the 70,000 or so college students in the locality, the BLISTT is a shoo-in for this business. In fact, the BLISTT, mainly Baguio, was included among the 10 Wave Cities for BPOs nationwide, with the presence of major BPO firms in the city.

Next would be education dispersed within the BLISTT, not mainly concentrated in Baguio, as we are still considered the top educational center in Northern Luzon. Of course, all these businesses will be needing real estate development for residential and commercial purposes.

LGU readiness

Having a good market for business is only half of the equation. The other half would be the attractiveness of the BLISTT as competitive areas to do business. This is something that both the public and private sectors need to improve on if we are serious in seeing the BLISTT actually move on the ground, beyond the rhetorics.

In the 2013 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index report done by the National Competitiveness Council, neither Baguio City nor La Trinidad made it to the top 50. Some of the matrix the council used to measure competitiveness are responsiveness of the LGU to business needs, which cover length of time to renew business permits, cost of renewing permits,  cost of doing business, cost of registering property, and availability of investment incentives among other considerations.

But Tabuk City in Kalinga made it to  38th, the only LGU from Cordillera that at least got a rank in the top 50 competitive cities in the Philippines in terms of economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure.

With the decline in competitiveness, the BLISTT LGUs have a lot to work on to make their areas attractive for investors to fuel the BLISTT concept. Basic concerns of investors like peace and order, ease of doing business, infrastructure, taxes and fees, and basic utilities have to be addressed. For example, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay still do not have their own water districts. So any development in these areas will have to outsource their water needs, which makes it costly.

At the end of the day, vision, in this sense, BLISTT is good but the details in implementing grandiose visions like it, is where it could hit a snag. The BLISTT concept, just like Cordillera autonomy, has been discussed, debated on, over-analyzed, and studied for years with thick documentation in the archives. But until now, it still has to move on the ground.

Meantime, the Cordillera Administrative Region’s competitiveness has been declining, with only one percent growth last year, which is the second slowest in the country. This is appalling given the vast natural resources of the region, which could fuel not just the BLISTT concept but the region’ s economy as well.

When BLISTT actually moves on the ground, it will become an enabler of the region’s economy and a driver for optimal resource management. But this will take commitment and competence on all sectors involved.
Other news
:: The BLISTT: As some others see it
:: Why BLISTT?
:: Beyond Boundaries: Realizing the potentials of a public-private partnership in BLISTT
:: Do we need a big brother in BLISTT?
:: Andebok, a foundational site in Baguio’s political history
:: The need for a legislative response to the BLISTT framework
:: BSU’s role in the development of BLISTT
:: BLISTT: Transforming distrust to mutual cooperation
:: Local resources, global directions in the service of the CICM Mission
:: Making BLISTT work

Department of Social Welfare and Development
SiTEL
University of Baguio

Baguio Central University
Baguio City Council
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
MMS Development Traning Center Corporation
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
Sangguniang Panlalawigan – Province of Benguet
Skycable
Sutherland Global Services
The Office of Civil Defense – Cordillera
TI (Philippines), Inc.
University of the Cordilleras
University of the Philippines – Baguio

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center, Inc.
Baguio City Police Office
Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
Baguio Heart and Lung Diagnostic Center, Inc.
Baguio Memorial Chapels, Inc.
Baguio Water District
Benguet State University
BSBT College, Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Bureau of Internal Revenue – CAR
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology – CAR
Citylight Hotel
Commission on Higher Education – CAR
Congressman Maximo B. Dalog
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Crown Legacy Hotel
Department of Agrarian Reform – CAR
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Education – CAR
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of Science and Technology
Department of Tourism
Department of Trade and Industry
Easter College
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commerical
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Fortune (Hong Kong) Seafood Restaurant
Fox International Immigration and Visa Provider
GMS Technology
Governor Leonard G. Mayaen
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
Hotel Elizabeth
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board – Northern Luzon Region
Kalapaw Restaurant
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Le Conservatoire De Danse De Ballet
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Municipality of La Trinidad
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration – CAR
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company
Regional Development Council – CAR and National Economic and Development Authority – CAR
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – CAR
WINACA / Narda’s

 



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