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Vigan one of 14 wonder cities finalists

/ 04:44 AM October 09, 2014
THE HERITAGE VILLAGE in Vigan City remains busy at night as tourists enjoy walking on its cobblestone streets and ride in calesa (horse-drawn carriages) that ply the city famous for its rich culture and Spanish-era mansions. LEONCIO BALBIN JR.

THE HERITAGE VILLAGE in Vigan City remains busy at nightas tourists enjoy walking on its cobblestone streets and ride in calesa (horse-drawn carriages) that ply the city famous for its rich culture and Spanish-era mansions. LEONCIO BALBIN JR.

VIGAN CITY, Philippines–This heritage city in Ilocos Sur province is a step closer to becoming one of the new seven wonder cities of the world after the latest round of online voting pushed it into the list of 14 finalists.

Netizens flooded Vigan’s campaign page on Facebook moments after Bernard Weber, founder and president of the New7Wonders, announced at

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1 a.m. on Wednesday the Top 14 cities that made it to the world race. They egged the city on to secure its Top 7 spot, with the winners to be announced on Dec. 7.

Edgardo de la Cruz, city tourism officer, said the road to the final cut in December was no walk in the park. “The selection is lean and mean. Vigan is up against the biggest cities of the world,” he said.

The other finalists in the New7Wonders Cities are Barcelona (Spain), Beirut (Lebanon), Chicago (United States), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Havana (Cuba), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), London (United Kingdom), Mexico City (Mexico), Perth (Australia), Quito (Ecuador) and Reykjavik (Iceland).

Weber described the roster of finalists as “inspiring as it is enlightening.”

1,200 nominees

Some 1,200 cities were nominated since the start of the global competition, initiated by Swiss nonprofit New7Wonders Foundation and which aims to preserve the world’s man-made and natural heritage sites.

The foundation was behind the campaign that named Puerto Princesa City one of the world’s New7Wonders of Nature in 2011.

“The short list will now help voters to focus their understanding on a key trend shaping our world today—urbanization,” Eamonn Fitzgerald, head of communication at New7Wonders, said in a statement.

“Whether it is innovation or income inequality, or migration or mass transport, some of the most provocative questions of our time are being debated in the context of a changing world in which the majority of humanity lives in cities,” Fitzgerald said.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) inscribed Vigan on the World Heritage list in 1999, citing the city for its “best practice in sustainable conservation and management of world heritage properties.”

One of six Unesco World Heritage sites in the Philippines, Vigan, also the capital of Ilocos Sur, is dubbed as the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.

De la Cruz said Vigan Mayor Eva Marie Medina had been up all morning on Wednesday, responding to congratulatory messages and thanked Filipinos here and abroad for supporting Vigan’s bid.

Appeal for support

“Having come this far, the unprecedented votes from local and international communities affirm that Vigan is truly a wonder city,” Medina said in a statement. “I therefore appeal for your unequivocal support in the final leg of the search as we are up against formidable megacities.”

De la Cruz said he had no means to monitor where the Vigan votes were coming from. “We firmly believe since the Philippines is the world’s texting capital, text votes from Filipinos have helped us to the final round.”

Race organizers said voting in the final round would now continue across a range of platforms such as dedicated iOS and Android apps, international telephone voting lines and, where available, via national short messaging service (SMS).

They did not divulge the rankings when they announced the cities that made it to the next round.

Selection process

According to New7Wonders, each voting session done online and via the mobile applications produces seven votes, one each for a different chosen finalist. On the other hand, each vote via telephone voting line or text message produces one vote for that chosen finalist.

Each of these votes has equal status, and the votes are added up to determine the chosen New7Wonders Cities.

The Switzerland-based foundation has enabled international phone voting using the following numbers—+881821611990; +881921611990; +34902735471; +447589975201; +447559121023; and +447559583500.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, Fitzgerald said the rankings among the 21 remaining cities were changing daily. “(T)hat shows how dynamic and exciting this campaign is,” he said, adding that a photo finish was expected for the list of 14 finalists.

“Vigan always appears last in the roll because winners are announced in alphabetical order,” he said. He said Vigan was always assigned with the last number code in the international phone voting but this seemed to have never worked to the city’s disadvantage.

“From Code 28 (the initial number assigned in the previous round), we always get the last number but we make it to the next round nonetheless,” he said.

He said Vigan’s multimedia platform campaign also helped draw more votes for the city.

To support Vigan’s campaign, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson issued a memorandum to all provincial government offices and towns and cities in the province asking employees to conduct simultaneous voting from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

“The win of Vigan is the triumph of Ilocos Sur and the entire nation,” Singson said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, has urged Filipinos to vote for Vigan. Public may vote online via new7wonders.com.–With reports from Ronnel W. Domingo in Manila; Leoncio Balbin Jr., contributor; and Nestor Corrales, INQUIRER.net

Originally posted at 3:58 pm | Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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TAGS: Global Nation, Heritage City, Ilocos Sur, New 7 Wonders, Vigan City
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