Baguio’s congestion will continue
Baguio is lucky in a way that it was well planned by the Americans, even with all their faults as colonizers. Well, it was well planned for 25,000 people. Just before the lockdown, there were about 400,000 people, residents and out-of-towners, in the city. It was, and still is, bursting at the seams which is quite evident in the grid-lock traffic, pollution, stretched to breaking point utility services including social services, etc.
Yet nothing is being officially done to stem the tide. But the reverse is true. People are being encouraged to come and visit, and many of them would want to stay permanently for the climate is good and there are amenities or places not found in other towns. There are good parks—Wright Park (with the Mansion House), Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, to mention a few. These were all designed (thank God, they are world class) and built during the colonial times and bestowed to us. What we did, rather our officials did, was not to enhance or supplement these, but to encourage congestion in them with hideous infrastructures, and around them with private residences or commercial developments like condominiums and even ‘squatters.’
In short, we had been choking out the life, aesthetics and wholesomeness to our health or well-being of these legacies.
There are also good schools which are being encouraged to expand for the economic fortunes they cause, and more are sprouting as a consequence of the geometric increase in population.
So the choking continues and the latest is the planned development of a property of the Villar family (the richest in the country) or one of their corporations which was granted a permit by the national office of the Dep’t. of Environment and Natural Resources to cut 53 pine trees including a Norfolk pine. The development is right at the back of the Mansion House.
Perhaps our local officials have no choice but to let the development take its course for there is no legal basis to stop it and there never was any successful resistance to stop such in this country as there is the full force of the powers-that-be behind it.
The only way that that could have been stopped was with the strength of a local law prohibiting it. But there is none. And our local officials never had the inclination to pass one, since time immemorial. Nothing at all to institutionalize efforts to preserve the city’s beauty or its wholesomeness. Is there anything of this sort on the table at the city council? Nothing.
Not only the rich and powerful want to live here. We need not go far to bring home the point. Just look at the capital towns of all Cordillera provinces and it is obvious that Baguio City is the best place to settle in or to migrate to.
Thus the congestion continues.**