In July 1993, the local government passed a resolution signifying the city’s intention to have sisterhood ties with Vallejo, California in the United States of America (USA) as one of the means to aggressively promote the country’s undisputed Summer Capital. That time, the city was recovering from the rubbles of the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake. This initiative was intended to help in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts to revitalize the growth and development of the city closest to the heavens. Happily, the city council of local legislative of Vallejo City reciprocated the intention by passing a similar resolution accepting the request of Baguio City for the establishment of a sister city relationship which has been vibrant to date. A delegation from this sister city just visited the city last week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sisterhood ties between their city and Baguio.
The local government has established hundreds of sisterhood ties with local and overseas cities, municipalities and provinces which strengthened the city’s educational, cultural, tourism, business, trade and commerce exchange programs benefitting thousands of city residents who pursued their studies in prestigious educational institutions abroad and gained knowledge and skills that molded them to become responsible residents of the city.
Under the sisterhood program of local governments in the country, a twinning agreement between the requesting local government and the desired partner local government will be signed through a memorandum of understanding after an exchange visit between the two parties. This seals the sisterhood ties.
The benefits of the sisterhood ties range from extensive exchange programs, sharing of best practices, rich culture and traditions of the involved local governments, knowing the histories of the local governments, among other programs, projects and activities which could be both replicated in the involved provinces, cites and municipalities to further strengthen the bond of the concerned localities. The sisterhood relationship among local governments, locally and overseas, is also like a sibling relationship where partners can share spare resources with partners in need to advance the state of development of the latter.
For decades now, Baguio City benefited from the sisterhood agreements it entered into with various cities in Japan, USA, Canada, China and other parts of the globe. On the other hand, it shared its best practices with smaller local governments in the different parts of the country aside from exchanging best practices with similarly situated highly urbanized cities. It has been observed that Baguio City does not return the best treatment it receives from its sister cities to its visitors from these sister cities. We do not match the treatment we get from them in terms of reception, billeting, hospitality, and others. We do not wonder why some city officials and employees from our sister cities prefer to visit places other than us for their official and educational trips.
We believe that the involved offices in the sisterhood program of the local government revisit how they are handling sisterhood or twinning activities. Many of our officials and employees have been part of the city’s delegations in numerous activities in the sisterhood programs locally and abroad. They must inform the programming of activities involving sisterhood relations. They should provide lessons learned and share best practices that can be replicated or adapted so that we treat our visitors the best way we can, if not at par with the way our delegations were treated during their visits to these sister cities here and abroad. When members of the local government delegation visit sister cities in other places even in the country, they are given the highest treatment that local governments can offer. However, when members of sister city delegations visit Baguio City, unfortunately, we seem to treat them like a burden. For instance, we do not give them the best accommodations, we do no expose them to places and activities which reflect the realities of Baguio and thus they get to know more about the city, there is no activity which the public can be involved to generate more interest on such a sister city, there is no wide media coverage of the visit, among other things.
Although we have our own ways of welcoming our visitors, we can always improve on how we treat them. If we can give so much publicity to the millionth summer visitor, why such a lackadaisical treatment of a relative? Let us move out of our comfort zones and seriously treat our sisters like relatives. These are our relations who will help us in our other programs. We might as well refrain from going into these sisterhood relationships if we do not treat our sisters well. Our sisterhood program deserves not only second look but also a total overhaul to move us on to greater heights, our vision that we continuously campaigning for.