Baguio is slowly coming back to life

By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas

“ Certainly, there is no going back to the way we were, but a new kind of communal life will have to emerge, and it will. Otherwise, the economy will die and we might go back to the stone age.”

The past days after restrictions were relaxed a bit since Sept. 1, Baguio started to come back to life. In some sidewalks like Upper Mabini St., General Luna Road, and Magsaysay Ave., social distancing was an impossibility. There were just so many people on the sidewalks. Traffic also has been getting heavier each day around the central business district. People are going out to make a living or earn some money after almost six months of lockdown which is now synonymous to economic difficulty, if not hunger.
Bantering with other practicing lawyers in the corridors of courts, there is a commonality in gripes. People are hard up and so taking out their wallet is often done with a lot of hesitation. Yet, as one quipped, the priests and pastors were even in direr straits as he cited the time when only 5% or 10% of members of congregations were allowed in churches. No matter how strong the faith of a few, the alms box could not bulge as it does during normal times.
And pending the opening to tourists of the city, the main employees of hotels around that mushroomed the past decade are just three or four security guards to keep their premises safe 24/7. All the rest were either let go temporarily or permanently. As one cabbie related, he could not imagine how a family with small children could have survived if both parents were working in a hotel that closed.
Its good that most students in this city whose economic lifeblood are the expenses of learners and schools, were either sent home or somehow found their way home. Otherwise, as in the States, student prostitution would have spiked to unimaginable levels.
Information are also flying thick and fast of vegetables not being sold and just thrown away as these could not be brought to market in the midst of hunger. As a Facebook post slapped the face of government, hundreds of millions were being spent to bring white sand to Manila Bay from Cebu but vegetables in Benguet could not be transported to feed the hungry souls in Mega Manila. This is the height of insensitivity.
While many businesses closed shop, some new ones sprang to life. Food delivery through motorcycles is the most visible in town. They are all over the place charging reasonable rates, even for as low as P20.00. Instead of going to town by cab or by car—which is almost an impossibility due to lack of parking areas—just have things delivered.
An effect of this is many people have become business operators in their kitchens. They either bake or cook or come up with foodstuffs and sell these online. The traditional food stores with their high overhead in commercial areas are now being threatened by these kitchen operators whose survival are assured due to readily available cheap and fast delivery services as mentioned above.
We had to go to SM City of Baguio last night to buy an AVR (automatic voltage regulator) and there were not many people. No hanging out in coffee shops or just lingering in restaurants, but there was that feeling that the way things were was slowly coming back, if not totally, at least, substantially. We were informed also that there were so many people there, young and old, last Sunday.
Certainly, there is no going back to the way we were, but a new kind of communal life will have to emerge, and it will. Otherwise, the economy will die and we might go back to the stone age.
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