Statements: Quo Vadis, Baguio?

By THE BAGUIO WE WANT FORUM
www.nordis.net

A call for commitment to a truly meaningful, responsive and and inclusive solution to the present issues besetting Baguio.

The proposal to construct a multi-level podium parking system at the Burnham Park complex is just a symptom of a larger issue of the quality of governance that is right now being administered in the city.

If the intention is to invite more visitors by providing them with the convenience of parking, the proposal to enclose the park with high- rise structures will obscure the park’s aesthetics which, by its original design, must remain an open space and a place for promenade and leisurely walks for the people whether they are local or visiting.

Burnham Park is a heritage site, as with other places in Baguio. It is the outcome of a plan that was envisioned by Architect Daniel Burnham in accordance to his “beautiful city” concept. Human activities in the park have contributed much to what it is now, but the idea that the place remains to be a distinct attraction for Baguio City means that the park is an integral component of the city’s identity. To introduce permanent structures that are not in accordance with the original vision of the planners of the city will tarnish this identity and for that matters tarnish the image of Baguio that visitors find attractive and keep coming back to.

A sense of heritage and history is an attribute that must be presented in the city’s official decision- making processes. If Baguio’s only “asset” that we know of its being a popular tourist destination, then the identification and preservation of heritage sites will sustain Baguio’s attraction long after we have worn the novelty of organized tourism events.

But Baguio is more than a tourist spot. It is an educational center, an economic zone, and home to hundreds of thousands of permanent residents. Thus, governance should not only consider the interests of visitors but more of the welfare of citizens that keep the engine of life in this city going. Thus, the rationalization of a social problem like traffic must take into account its effect on the city’s citizenry.

For instance, even before provision for a podium parking is discussed, should we also consider the situation of commuters who rely on public transport for their daily convenience? Should the problem of efficiency and reliability of public transport be addressed instead rather than accede to a seemingly whimsical requirement for parking that benefits only a small portion of the population who happen to own a cars?

The city is endowed with resources both fiscal intellectual that it can very well step up its effort to address these social problems. But a willingness and commitment to think through suggestions and initiatives from all sides and not just the administrator’s must prevail before we even commit materials resources to a particular undertaking.

Solutions do not come in convenient and expedient packages. We must have the mindset to go the distance if a truly meaningful and responsive solution to our myriad problems and concerns are realized. If these are not done and Baguio proceeds towards growth but without sustainable systems in place, then the city faces the likelihood of urban decay in the near future. # nordis.net

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