The LISTT will always play 2nd fiddle to Baguo
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
The nearby towns surrounding Baguio (La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay– LISTT) will always play second fiddle to the city. Even to the eyes of their own constituents. Because these LIST towns never took seriously their own development, independently from Baguio.
For instance, they never developed their own health care systems such that, with the exception of La Trinidad, they don’t have hospitals of their own. Tuba for instance has only a clinic with only one doctor and several nurses. And yet billions of pesos had been made by outsiders from its territorial jurisdiction. So where does its constituents go when they say “they will go to market?” Baguio City was in their minds, and that’s where they go.
For there is not even a decent wet market worth calling such in the town. Not even a respectable grocery. And there is only one-chair barbershop in the población.
When its constituents say they will go “pasyar” (to go out for entertainment or relaxation) they have Baguio in mind. Relaxation could mean going to the park, the movies, the mall, or the bars. Tuba has no park, or movie houses, respectable bars or even coffee shops, much less a mall.
Let us go back to the lack of a hospital. There was a hue and cry on the recent issuance of the Baguio City mayor requiring residents of LISTT to get medical clearances or certificates before entering Baguio and that there should be a valid purpose like work, medical reasons, or other necessities such as having to go to the market.
All the mayors of the LISTT were shocked and their constituents. For the constituents, because their lives are centered in Baguio City, and for the mayors, because they felt that they were treated like shit, even saying that they were not informed or properly apprised. The city mayor has a counter-argument about that but that would be another story.
The point here is the city mayor could have stood his ground and the LISST towns could not have any leverage to make him back down. Although he did, I think for humanitarian purposes and for his political future because everybody was up in arms, being hungry and all that.
The lack of leverage of the LISTT towns was due to the fact that they in many ways are dependent on Baguio’s resources. If there will be a spike of COVID cases which is hounding them like all other places, the hospitals of the city are their only hope, even its isolation facilities.
For emphasis, this is due to the underdevelopment of these surrounding towns. Let us focus on Tuba. In the 60s and 70s there were a number of mines that were operating within its territory. There was the Black Mountain, Inc., the Benguet Exploration, Inc., the Philex Mining Corporation which continues to operate up to now, and there were the small scale miners.
An effective leader back then, even with the deficiencies in the mining law at that time, could have strong armed these companies to fund the establishment of a first class hospital. With the billions of pesos they were extracting from Tuba’s earth it was their moral obligation to contribute to, if not totally take care of, the health of the people in the town.
With such, and other ensuing development, Tuba could have stood up against the city’s most recent directives that adversely affect its constituents.
Itogon’s case was the same. It had been host to big mining ventures (in Antamok, Balatoc, Acupan, Sto. Nino, Philex, and the small scale mining dog holes all over the place) but it is no different from Tuba in terms of development.
The other towns like Tublay and Sablan are even worse, they are more underdeveloped.
La Trinidad had developed well but when you look down on the center of the town from any elevated portion, it is a hodge-podge kind of development. With all the money there, there is no sophistication in its development. And it was able to build a respectable hospital only recently, just more than a decade ago. Hope the reputation of that hospital will improve a lot.
As former Baguio City Mayor Domogan (a Bontokis) often said (intended for the LISTT mayors), “We have to think out of the box.”
The need for such kind of thinking came to a head with the recent stand off due to the said new COVID restrictions. Leverage-wise, the Baguio City mayor could have stood his ground until the LISTT mayors would have turned blue in the face.**