"Baguio City needs some serious rehabilitation."
I was in Baguio last week—this explains why I was not able to write my column. I went there for two reasons: To rest and to recharge my batteries.
I went around the city to see the usual attractions—Burnham Park, Wright Park, Mines View Park, The Mansion. I concluded that the city was in bad shape and needed rehabilitation.
Burnham Park has ceased to be an attraction. Its man-made lake is heavily silted. There are still people who ride the boats, but not too many. The surroundings are a complete mess. Gone are the bike riders and the motorized small cars. Instead, plain promenaders walk around, for lack of amenities.
The park gets worse during long holidays. Booking in pension houses and hotels becomes impossible, and vacationers make do by sleeping in their vehicles. And because the toilet facilities are inadequate, you can imagine what happens.
Wright Park is also in need of attention. The place could get so muddy —how can tourists enjoy riding horses?
Minew View Park has become uninviting. There are too many shops. It has lost its appeal due to neglect and possibly corruption. Even The Mansion is no longer inviting!
Another place that needs rehabilitation is the marketplace.
All these, plus the fact that squatters have taken over the hillside of the city, and that traffic gridlocks could sometimes be like what we experience here in Metro Manila, have convinced me that the summer capital is no more. Even going to Trinidad Valley to get strawberries from the farm is no longer fun!
From a 350,000 population that balloons during the day, Baguio City has become intolerable!
These happened because of neglect and indifference of local officials. Apparently, there is no city planning whatsoever there; business establishments just build and build as they please. There should be a law here that requires businesses to provide parking spaces before they can build.
Baguio is truly a dying city. It cries out for rehabilitation and planning. The pine trees have gone—you can only see and smell them now in Camp John Hay. Even the developers of the camp must rehabilitate that small area called Mile High.
The problem of Baguio is as bad as Boracay’s used to be.
While in Baguio, I visited Alphaland’s Baguio Mountain Lodges—a high-end, 82-hectare development by my former student Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin.
When I was there two years ago, and at that time the only lodge I saw on top of the hill was Bobby’s three-room cabin, which he built when he was managing partner of SGV. He was the youngest to ever hold that office.
This time around, I was amazed at the development of the place. Some 300 lodges are to be built in the next three years.
Ambuklao Road with all its potholes has been repaired and cemented.
According to Sienna Moncado, sales manager, 28 lodges have already been sold and 21 have been built. Nine are already occupied.
Sienna took me and my son Eric to the three-story clubhouse which has 12 fully furnished rooms. The amenities are great.
Because of high demand from those who cannot afford the P40 million- P50 million mountain lodges, Alphaland will also build quadruplex lodges as half the price.
No wonder guests refer to the place as the Forbes Park of Baguio City. There is even a helipad!
President Duterte may have committed the biggest mistake he could ever commit in his term by placing the Bureau of Customs under the military, in the hope that it would be able to stop smuggling and corruption.
I remember that the late President Ramon Magsaysay also placed Customs under the Philippine Military Academy, with no less than 400 cadets assigned to Customs.
The President should be told that it’s the system at Customs that corrupts good people. What he needs to do is privatize Customs. This is the only way he could rid it of graft and corruption.