Editorial: Overbuilding in the City of Pines


The aftermath of the “killer earthquake” on July 16, 1990 brought out studies about the geology and the carrying capacity of Baguio City as an integral area. These studies and estimates were made mostly by scientists in the field of environment, geology, vulcanology and hydrology, and those who cared for the City and its people.

They warned that the City has over built its carrying capacity – its capacity to supply enough water, hold up its foundations to bear the weight added by the population, the structures and contraptions man would create on it, beneath it and over it, the capacity of the environment to keep the air and water clean at normal levels for the sustenance of life, etc.

These studies were followed by public opinion and commentary that supported or questioned the findings presented. The process made the exchanges somehow transparent and a healthy democratic exchange of ideas and opinions. These though has been mostly ignored by the city officialdom. For instead of giving the concerns further study, and better documentation in aid of legislation, and to improve the plans for city’s services and its thoroughfares, cutting corners and evading the people’s issues was a preference and negligence by government has worsened.

The case of the eroding portion of the Gibraltar Road in the Mines View Park area can be an example and a case in view. The office that monitors buildings in the city, the city engineers office may have done something yet before the building plans for the 8-10 story 400 unit condominium could be approved. Or before the excavations for the condominium foundation and basement could be made and that in the process trigger subsidence or erosion of the mountainside it used to support.

Even policies and rules covering real estate, environmental and geological concerns could have been observed and in the process prevent the loss of resources and avoid man made or creating hazards.

Public funds were used to build and repair that road only to be destroyed and made vulnerable by a faulty engineering feat.

Rice terrace builders from the ili, usually an unschooled cabitero, at first sight could have a better guess of what caused or continues to cause the erosion and would even make a recommendation of how to keep the mountainside from eroding. Counter checking his suggestions against a schooled calculation may yet be helpful start at how to make the eroded mountainside able to carry the weight imposed by the growing commuting public and the mounting pressure from the surrounding large structures.

On the other hand, the people in the community directly affected by this eroded road and construction of another profit driven structure must bring up their concerns now with our City government and even local Department of Public Works office. It should be seen as helping our officials objectively evaluate these projects in favor of the community first and be guided accordingly so everyone may proceed safely at developing our City for the generations to come.# nordis.net


Leave a Reply