Welcome to Baguio, Inc., a rapidly progressing city that they say is inevitable. And they want us to grin and bear it, welcome it with open arms and embrace it. In today’s Baguio, Inc. corporate interest reigns supreme, and the people are merely a market.
Progress is what they call getting caught in heavy traffic in smog and noise-filled city streets; when we buy our food in cling wrap and bar-coded instead of fresh off the ground at the market; having less earth space and more man-made structures; more money yet a poorer quality of life. It is progress when we lose our sense of community and we walk down streets filled with indifferent strangers.
In today’s Baguio, Inc., they trumpet the building of a parking building and a commercial complex, and muffle the sound of trees being felled and the risks that a denuded and concreted hillside posts on lives and property. In Baguio, Inc., we are supposed to celebrate the sprouting of high-rise condominiums and franchise restaurants all around us. In Baguio, Inc., they highlight the number of jobs created every time a concrete box is erected, and are blind to or intentionally gloss over the fact that we as a community become less and less happy living in a slowly decaying city.
They flaunt the prospect of more money going around and they want us to want that money very badly. And sadly, many of us have gone for the carrot on their one hand, without knowing that there’s a stick on the other. Enjoy the windfall now, and imagine the kind of city you’re passing on to your children.
And you buy it. In Baguio, Inc., your business may be earning a bit more these days because of this supposed progress, but they don’t want you to realize that you are also actually spending way more for everything. You spend more money for food bought from refrigerated shelves. You spend more time getting from here to there because the streets are clogged and they all lead to monuments to crass commercialism, shameless materialism. You now spend for recreation – tokens at the arcade, tickets to the movies, parking fees, entrance fees. You go to the park and you rent a bike, a boat, a pair of skates or buy tickets for a couple of minutes in a bumper car. And for a whole month every year, you go to the park to buy inferior mass-produced plastic crap and eat dirty food.
Is this really progress?
To progress is to develop, to improve, become better. Progress is for a once clean and green city to become cleaner and greener. Progress is for a once beautiful city to become even more beautiful. If you were sad before, to progress is to become happy. If you were already happy before, to progress is to become happier.
Again, in today’s Baguio, Inc., are we really progressing as a community, as a people, as a city?