For the umpteenth time, what’s in it for us
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
It is again the season of festivals. Ongoing right now is the Adivay festival of Benguet which will culminate in the commemoration of its foundation day on November 23. Just passed was the festival of festivals where the different provinces of the Cordillera except Abra were showcased their festivities and traditions in Baguio City.
Coming up also next week will be the Salun-at Festival whose main venue will be at Malcolm Square. The yearly end of year-end crowd drawer, the Christmas Village is also ongoing at Country Club.
All these festivities are supposed to culminate in the Panagbenga Festival this February. It should create enough momentum in the arrival of tourists to last all summer.
As had been happening every year there will be gridlock traffic, Water will be scarce, and it will be difficult to move from point A to Point B anywhere in Baguio and La Trinidad. Who will bear the brunt of such? You and me, the people of La Trinidad and Baguio. And to a certain extent, the nearby towns which are parts of Metro Baguio or BLISTT.
Tuba, for instance will endure bumper to bumper traffic along Marcos Highway, the best route from the flatlands to these mountains.
And what do we get in return? Nothing. Hence we had been harping for the local governments of Baguio and La Trinidad to find ways for us to at least gain something. The best way to do that is for the tourists to pay. After all, the demand to visit Baguio has become so high that it should be pricier to come and enjoy our centralized air conditioning everywhere. Not to mention the beautiful sights of our mountains and our people and products or produce unique to our region like highland vegetables, strawberries and related products, hotsprings, etc.
While out of towners spend, they are not shelling out enough. They are only benefitting those catering to outsiders like souvenir shops and those in the hospitality industry such as hotels, inns, and restaurants. To a certain extent gasoline stations. Benefits to sari-sari stores are minimal.
Somehow some money should be made from the visitors to be plowed ack to residents perhaps in the form of reduced local taxes or other bills we are struggling to meet every end of the month or year.
Or treat everybody to a big feast at the athletic bowl. At least we will gain something. That is the equitable way.
Forgetting us, you and me, and our kabarangays can ultimately be disastrous to the local powers-that-be.**