The first half hour of the public hearing last Monday was spent watching and listening to what SM had to say. I couldn’t help but remember Daniel Burnham’s warning that “unless early preventive measures are taken, the misdirected initiative of energetic lumbermen will soon cause the destruction of this beautiful scenery.”
SM City Baguio said that they will be constructing a green building to offset the ecological footprint of the expansion by having a rooftop garden with ornamental plants and trees. Can that rooftop garden really make up for the environmental impact of thousands of cars, thousands of people, tons of garbage that the new structure will generate?
SM City Baguio claimed that they have partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). But a letter from Jennivine Kwan, Vice President for International Operations of USGBC denied this claim. Among the provisions for the suspension or revocation of the new Building Code of the Philippines is “Incorrect or inaccurate data or information supplied.”
SM City Baguio claims to be offering a solution to the city’s traffic woes by building a parking lot that can accommodate 1,200 cars. This was lauded by the city’s traffic chief, Supt. James Allan Logan. To them, encouraging individuals to bring their cars to the city’s central business district by providing parking spaces instead of encouraging motorists to use city’s public transportation system to lessen the private vehicles on the road makes sense.
SM City Baguio promises a lot, but let’s call a spade a spade: SM City Baguio already enjoys a lion’s share of the city’s consumer market, smaller local businesses can barely survive with what’s left. But SM City Baguio is greedy and wants what’s left of that market for themselves, hence the expansion plan.
Luneta Hill served as the springboard for the establishment of the City of Baguio as a hill station for health and recreation. This is where the city’s pioneers built the first ever structure for that purpose – a sanitarium, and the first area in the city to be beautified with trees and flowering plants. Today, those trees help give us air, prevent flooding in lower lying areas, and maintain the city’s aesthetic value.
Removing those 182 trees and replacing it with a concrete monstrosity erases the city’s glorious past and endangers and ruins its present. I’ve said here countless times and I say it again, we inherited a City of Pines from the city’s pioneers, what kind of Baguio are we passing on to the future generation?
Let’s say no to the death sentence handed down by SM City Baguio to the 182 trees on Luneta Hill!