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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Baguio rehab can be done

"The city has suffered from many years of neglect."



The attempts of some Cabinet members to clarify the President’s words during Monday’s State of the Nation Address, specifically when he said that China was in possession on the West Philippine Sea, make the matter worse.

They are saying Mr. Duterte meant “in position,” not “in possession.”

The phrase would then have no meaning. That makes the President sound like he does not know what he is saying. With minions like these, who needs enemies, indeed?

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The rehabilitation of Baguio City must be taken in its entire context. The attempt of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and other agencies, must be taken in the right context. It must not be compared to the efforts in Boracay and other tourist destinations.

Any rehabilitation plan for a city like Baguio must consider why it has deteriorated to such an extent.

Today, Baguio City is overpopulated, with nightmarish traffic conditions. With so many vehicles coming from the lowlands, parking within the city limits is impossible.

Clearly, there has been official neglect and corruption.

There was a time when I loved going to Baguio if only smell the pine trees and experience the cool air. When I was a boy, my father used to take me there. From Abra, we took the connecting Banguet Auto Line from La Union. My father used to take us to Teachers Village as he tried to earn credit to complete his BS in Education.

When my own children were growing up, my wife and I took them to Baguio as well, staying at Pines Hotel and walking on Session Road.

Now it’s almost impossible to wade through Session Road.

There is even an SM mall, usually overcrowded.

The only thing that can be done is to rehabilitate places where foreign and local tourists go.

Burnham Park badly needs rehabilitation. The man-made lake is heavily silted, removing the fun in boat riding. There are still bikes and small cars, but parking is a nightmare.

Would you believe that in the peak months, people park along the street and sleep in their vehicles? I wonder where they do what comes naturally.

Wright Park is another place that needs rehabilitation. That’s the place where you go horseback-riding. When it rains, the place becomes muddy and riding is no longer fun.

Another sorry place is The Mansion. Access to it has become difficult. There are many ambulant vendors around.

Baguio officials neglected urban planning indeed.

The only place in Baguio where you can smell the pine trees is in Camp John Hay. But that, too, needs rehabilitation.

There is Alphaland’s Baguio Mountain Lodges of international businessman Bobby Ongpin. It’s a short ride from the city proper. Baguio residents call it the Forbes Park of Baguio because its lodges are pricey. It was built some two years ago and is now being occupied by millionaires from the lowlands.

It’s unfortunate that Baguio has suffered from neglect.

The Tourism Department should also focus on the inviting and beautiful beach resorts of La Union. You do not need to go to Boracay if you want great beaches and affordable accommodations.

From there you can go all the way to Ilocos region to experience Ilocano hospitality. Nothing can also compare to the churches in the region. How about it, Madame Bernadette Romulo Puyat?

* * *

President Duterte no longer mentioned federalism in his Sona. That does not mean, however, that Congress should forget Charter change. It does not necessarily mean a shift to federalism. There remains the need to remove the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Congress should realize that this is the reason the Philippines has been at the bottom of the totem pole.

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