Sunday, August 8, 2010

Now what?

In the months leading to this year’s elections, Baguio produced an extraordinary number of experts in public administration and local politics. They commented criticized, damned, commented on practically every issue – the Athletic Bowl hysteria, the garbage problem, the traffic schemes. They all professed their love for Baguio – in the wonderful virtual world that is the world wide web, in fact, it was as if there really was a competition as to who loved Baguio the most. They were vigilant, their words were impassioned. They went to Burnham Park to pick up plastic cups, have pinikpikan picnics and plant some seedlings. For a moment it did feel like Baguio’s renaissance was in sight.

They did all they can to shape public opinion, not being totally aware that they were also writing Baguio’s history in the early stages of its second century.

Scheming, aspiring and/or come-backing politicians took advantage of the prevailing public sentiment, and jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook status updates became campaign slogans, blog entries became platforms of government on newsprint campaign flyers. People didn’t want some Korean-led consortium to spearhead the development of the Athletic Bowl, and the politicians said they have a better alternative. People were getting impatient about the garbage crisis, and they said they will solve the problem within 60 days if elected. People were getting tired of the traffic situation within the Central Business District, and they vowed to immediately improve the situation.

And we bought it, lock, stock and barrel. Lapped it up, got lost in the hysterics. We let bygones be bygones – the sly attempt to put up a gambling haven in the city; the controversial suspicious and utterly one-sided pay parking scheme that was rammed down the people’s throats that had motorists coughing up twenty pesos every time they stopped their cars practically anywhere in the city. We ignored the fact that a lot of the problems that Baguio is facing today were created by the inaction, ignorance and indifference of the same people who were now positioning themselves as the city’s saviors.

And it’s been said that there were people too, both private citizens and those in public service, who took advantage of these politicians’ desperation to regain and/or hold on to power and accepted the envelopes that promised them a few days’ worth of cheap alcohol and instant noodles in return for what supposedly was their sacred vote, uncaring, unaware, that the envelop bought way more than that: the dignity of this glorious city.

I know, it’s too early to criticize the newly installed administration, I accept that. But this early, we are being told that we can’t afford the rehabilitation of our parks, after all; that there really is no solution in sight in the near future for the city’s garbage problem; and that one of the solution to our traffic problem is to reconsider bringing back that much-hated pay parking scheme that we rallied and fought against not so long ago.

And the flash-in-the-pan pundits and Baguio-lovers have been quiet. Save for the occasional “no to Beneco’s planned development of a property along South Drive,” Baguio net-izens have been posting really nothing more than the usual cut-and-paste quotations, amusing YouTube videos, what they had for lunch, what movie pirated DVD they’re watching tonight, and online relationship status updates. It’s complicated. In the meantime, the garbage continues to pile up and nobody’s picking up trash on weekends anymore.

Now more than ever, experts on and defenders of Baguio, we need you. We began writing this part of Baguio’s history last May 10, 2010 – now what?

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