Panagbenga, suffering time again
The past Christmas holidays all the way to January 4, 2019 have shown again the inability of Baguio City to absorb so many tourists. The influx of vehicles caused gridlock traffic at Marcos Highway leading to the city extending to more than 10 kilometers on some days, and lasting for hours and hours. It was not just because Kennon Road was temporarily closed and that the new alternate route from Tubao, La Union to Nangalisan, Asin, Tuba was relatively unknown, but because Baguio City is too small to accommodate the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of local tourists.
Same is the case of Sagada where the municipal government had to issue an order for the limitation of the number of tourists entering the town, especially on long weekends. The place is just too small and could not take the deluge of tourists.
The more important issue however is what do ordinary residents gain from such situations when they have to suffer strained water resources, main streets being reduced into virtual parking lots of almost non-moving vehicles, slowing down everything or life itself, and nothing is done or accomplished. If at all, only a small number of tasks can get done. Prices of commodities and charges of businesses catering to tourists go high or even become scarce. The air gets polluted. In short, residents suffer a lot.
The gainers are the hotels, restaurants, gas stations, souvenir and ukay-ukay or wagwag shops, and similar establishments.
So to make the community happy, everybody should benefit from such occasions or touristy times. This is what should be occupying the minds of our officials.
From our viewpoint, there should be charges to be levied on tourists. Some big revenues can result and how to use these should not be a problem.
Here is an option. A glaring hole in Baguio City’s services landscape is the lack of a city college where academically qualified children of the poor can obtain a college degree. So the city can put up a college of its own.
A good example of such institution is the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila where many brilliant minds got honed and became highly in demand professionals or even national leaders. The city also has a city college.
Makati City also has the University of Makati and a science high school in addition to many ordinary public high schools.
The students in these institutions of higher learning are all scholars. They don’t have to pay for anything.
Can the city make money for tourists to make it able to afford to operate a city college? It could. Why is it not doing anything along this line? That is the question.**