Thursday, May 04, 2006

Davao: The Most Competitive City in 2005

Rational Technology for May 7, 2006

Davao City -- This visit to my original hometown was wholly unplanned. After my northern adventure to Ilocos, I had planned on returning to Dumaguete posthaste. However, my editor at PC Magazine Philippines requested me to give a presentation as part of their roadshow. Free ticket and a modest speaker's fee? Sure thing!

And as is usually the case when I land in Davao, I get stuck for days, and sometimes weeks. Not that I mind, though. There's simply so much to see and do within the city that it never seems boring, and yet it doesn't have the hassle of a metropolis living like Manila or even Cebu. Yes, Davao is a pretty fine place.

AIM released the results of their Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project (PCCRP) survey for 2005. Davao ranked as the most competitive city last year, the second time it has won that distinction, the first time being in 2002. Davao ranked first in the cost of doing business, second in the dynamism of the local economy, third in infrastructure, fourth in quality of life, and sixth in responsiveness to business needs. It ranked much lower in human resources and training, coming in 11th place, but this did not detract from the final results.

Granted, a significant portion of the survey was based on perception, but isn't that what largely counts, especially to someone who lives where he does? It was timely that I was in Davao when the report was released. I could confirm for myself that things are more or less as was claimed. Foremost to mind when I think of Davao now is that it feels so young and alive. Take a walk downtown and you can just feel it. Even the venerable San Pedro St., which I had given up for dingy and decrepit so many years ago, is vibrant once more.

The AIM report classified the cities by size into metropolitan, mid-sized, and small. Trailing Davao in the metro category were Las Pinas, Makati, Marikina, and Muntinlupa. Cebu was shut out of the list, owing largely to corruption in local government.

And what about Dumaguete? Clearly we're not in the same category as Davao owing to the differences in size. Instead, we were ranked along with the small cities. The ten leading cities in the category were, in alphabetical order: Dagupan, Legaspi, Koronadal, Naga, Olongapo, San Fernando La Union, Sta. Rosa, Surigao, Tagbilaran, and Tagum. Sadly, we didn't make the cut.

We did very well in terms of intrastructure, coming in second place to Ormoc's first. We were also seventh in human resources and training (the top three spots going to Dagupan, San Fernando La Union, and Olongapo). However, we took serious hits in linkages and accessibility, essentially transport (16th), cost of doing business (17th), and the quality of life (17th). The two most damaging, though, were the responsiveness of the local government to business needs (21st) and the dynamism of the local economy (27th).

Given these results, we can take one of two courses of action: put on our blinders, froth at the mouth, denounce the survey as irresponsible and inaccurate, and go on doing what we were doing before; or, we can study in-depth what the report has to say, use that to identify our shortcomings, and take concrete steps to making it to the top ten list in the coming years. Our choice.

Download the full report from the AIM web site.


  1. I don't think they ranked the cities this year. San Fernando has been on top in its categories ever since it joined the ranking project. But for this year, they arranged the top cities per category in alphabetical order.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Ivan. That's true, but if you look at the ratings, I think Davao ranks highest in its category. In any case, I think the lessons are more or less the same across the top cities.