I sit at the kitchen table with my mug of Benguet brew thinking. Thinking of the kind of city that we will be passing on to our children as Baguio continues on its journey on the path it’s on is heart-breaking.
It’s not that we are lost, we know exactly where we are and where we’re headed.
The city government announced the suspension of the number-coding scheme on certain days for the month of February. The schedule corresponds to the days that Baguio is expecting heavy traffic due to the influx of visitors that will be added to the increased number of resident who would venture out of their homes and into the heart of the city to celebrate Panagbenga, the annual Baguio Flower Festival. Is it really wise to encourage people to bring their cars out on those days?
Public transportation is banned along Gen. Luna Road during the morning rush hour. Does it make sense to disallow vehicles that ferry more people, particularly jeepneys that students of moderate means take to get to school, so that gas-guzzling SUVs bringing a student or two each can fill up the road instead?
While nobody was looking a couple of years ago, the Baguio Water District awarded its own executives and board members hefty raises, claiming the move was well within what’s required by law, which includes, according to a newspaper report (not this paper), “a positive balance in average net income of the utility’s 12-month operation.” In the meantime, water in Baguio continues to be rationed and that’s the way it’s been for as long as anyone can remember. The population of the city continues to grow, and we hear of neighbourhoods that do not get any water at all during the summer months for weeks. Justifiable, perhaps, but was their move just? Moral?
We don’t have enough water, we don’t have a sustainable solid waste management system in place, our streets are congested, in the meantime more and more forest covers are being cleared for concrete structures, structures that would bring in more people to the city, attract more motor vehicles, exact more from the city’s limited resources. Our parks are being fenced in and concrete’s being poured all over its remaining earth spaces. And all the powers-that-be in the city care about is how much money was moved today.
I look out the window of our kitchen, I look past the hanging plants outside, past the bamboo hedge, past the top most branches of the neighborhood’s remaining pine trees… blue skies. It still is a beautiful morning, but I can’t help but dread what Baguio would be like at the end of the day.
Really, it’s time for a paradigm shift. Our children, too, deserve beautiful mornings in Baguio.