When two communities, each from a different nation, decide that they would like to foster closer ties in terms of commerce and culture, they might enter into a formal agreement with either a social or legal binding to solidify their prospective relationship. This relation is known in Europe as “twin towns”, in China as “friendship cities”, and in the United States as “sister cities”. While the practice of twinning towns has been done as early as 836 AD, the modern tie of sister-cityhood was developed after World War II, and became widespread since. Now, Gensan is getting into it, again.
Following discussions since last month between representatives of General Santos City with the Mayor and local government of Jersey City, New Jersey, a momentous occasion has now been set nearly two weeks from now, on August 14. On that day, a new tie of sisterhood between cities of the Philippines and the US will be forged through their respective Mayors, Steven Fulop of Jersey City and Ronnel C. Rivera of Gensan. This agreement will be memorialized between the two at the Jersey City Hall, with an attending Gensan delegation being headed by Vice-Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles.
The foundation for a bond of sister-cityhood was courtesy of the efforts of Maria Cora Cenas Tito of the Philippine Department of Tourism – Gensan Office, and Jersey City resident Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo, who was born and grew up in Gensan herself. It was a fortuitous “accident” that sprung forth from the original intent by US residents of SOCSKSARGEN extraction to gather support in New Jersey for the hosting and holding of the Arise Mindanao fashion show, which will be happening stateside at Newark, New Jersey this August 11. The proposal of making Jersey City and Gensan into sister cities does more than just garner support.
In a way, both Gensan and Jersey City have certain things in common. Both are birthplaces to internationally acclaimed sports legends (Manny Pacquiao in Gensan, Shaquille O’Neal in Jersey); both also have rivers at its borders. With the impending agreement to become sister cities, there will soon be a series of cross-visits by representatives of the two communities to discuss the mutual benefits of their new bond: economics, education, sports, culture and more. Come August 14, Jersey City will become Gensan’s third international sister city (after Monterrey, Mexico and Hadano City, Japan), while Gensan becomes Jersey’s second Philippine sister city (after Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental).
Images courtesy of The FilAm, South Cotabato News and Facebook