The Baguio I Know

15 11 2010

This month we celebrate the founding of the City of Baguio. I’ve spent my whole life in this city and that is 22 years out of its 99 years of existence as a city. And I could bet that it is within my generation where the most dramatic changes in this city had taken place. After the earthquake, she rose from the crumbles and became a major local tourist destination in the country hence became a boomtown in northern Luzon. Ten years ago I can still remember myself waking up early in the morning to buy pandesal from a local bakery. Pandesal then was just 50 cents per piece and I could just imagine that they were much bigger before. I don’t want to take a bath before going to school because the water is so cold in the morning especially so because our water is stored in containers that would have to weather the coldness of the night. Going to school, I would have to walk from Tabora Brgy all the way to Lucban Elementary School. This is a daily routine rain or shine. I would recognize almost everyone that I would pass by along the way. There were lesser jitneys before and the taxis are yellow. Our school was wider before. It has a wide array of seed beds and plots available for vegetable planting. We planted all sorts of vegetables then. After school we would drop by Police Station 2 just right outside our school. We would catch fishes from their mini pond that they used to have at the back of the police station. The Baguio-Trinidad flyover was not there yet. During Sundays, I would serve as a sacristan in the Don Bosco Chapel. I almost know all the churchgoers. I see them all the time every Sunday. During Saturdays, our barangay captain would initiate a general cleaning drive. He’d call on us to sweep the streets of Trancoville and Tabora. We would plant golden bush along the sidewalks and pull out the grasses. The elder guys would do a bayanihan to clean the Trancoville creek. Our prize thereafter would be some sort of a community meal to reward us with our effort. And during nighttime, tanods would be up to patrol our area.


Then came the infrastructures that generated jobs for the city. Flocks of people came into the city to work. Not only that, local universities expanded to accommodate the growing student population. Along with this increase in population came the need for more shelters to house these local tourists, students and workers. And of course more vehicles and wider roads to accommodate them. And so the road was widened and our school’s mini farmland allotted for agriculture was sacrificed. Every vacant lot was converted into a residential or business establishment. Apartments began to rise from one corner to the other due to the increasing demand for them. One morning I just woke up to find out that I have a new neighbor. Sadly, the neighborhood began to be overcrowded and there are more strangers than there are locals. Little by little, going out becomes more and more awkward. The neighborhood I used to know is now filled up with strangers. Our playground is gone – it is now an apartment building. The tree we used to climb is gone – replaced by another building. There are no more clean-up drives because we can no longer clean spaces that became privately owned. The creek is dirtier than ever due to the indiscriminate dumping of garbage mostly coming from apartment buildings.


This is not to despise people who came here for greener pastures. There is nothing wrong with that one. After all, nobody really owns this city. But the thing is, most of these people who came to try their luck in this city do not have the sense of communal ownership that is somehow inherent to people who grew up here. They come here to peddle their wares but do not care to pick or clean the mess they leave behind. They don’t understand why we say “dugad mo shalosim” because they did not partake in our effort to win our accolade as the cleanest and greenest city in the country – and I wonder if we will ever win that award again. They don’t bother to pocket their dirt and they just leave them anywhere. Most of them just do not feel an attachment to this place – after all, they just came here to do business. The sadder part is, it seems that we Baguio folks are being influenced and started to treat this city the way they do.


This is not to generalize all these people but what I have here is a valid observation. This city has given opportunities for countless individuals coming from different parts of the country. She produced outstanding students, topnotchers, artists and other social figures. It is right to give back to the city what is due to her. Though we can no longer restore Baguio the way she was, at least we as residents, though sojourning or permanent, should have the vigilance to save what is left of her. The remaining patches of greens should be protected with zeal. I appeal to all those who come here to pursue their endeavors and dreams. This city cannot sustain for long unless and until we start caring for her. We all benefit from the opportunities that this city opens for us. Let’s not wait or this city to deteriorate because if that day comes – no amount of regret can restore it’s glory.




One response

16 11 2010


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