Sunday, June 24, 2012

The case of the disappearing hill

We are at the point of no return – in the next few weeks, the court will hear the arguments on whether SM Investments Corporation, a.k.a. SM Prime Holdings, a.k.a. SM Supermalls, or more commonly known to the community as SM City Baguio, should be allowed to do as they please with Luneta Hill – the historic promontory at the top of historic Session Road that served as the birthplace of this historic city.

And before the year ends, his decision will determine the direction that the erstwhile Summer Capital, once the City of Pines, in the past considered as one of the most beautiful hill stations in Asia – Baguio City, will take.

One takes us on a path of sustainability, a future Baguio that values the importance of living in harmony with our natural environment, a community that cares not only for its present but also treasures its past and more importantly, unselfishly considers the kind of home it will pass on to its children.

The other takes us all downhill towards a soul-less concrete jungle, a community that sees nature not as a nurturing mother but as an obstacle to more money, a Baguio where greed and selfishness reign, the final nail on the coffin of the city’s pioneers’ vision of a beautiful city.

On one end of the bar is a battery of high profile lawyers from the Solicitor General’s office and two of the most prominent law offices in the land. They are backed by two of the country’s most powerful influences – the government and an unimaginable amount of money courtesy of the country’s richest man.

On the other end are a handful of people’s lawyers, among the few who are still principled enough to be in the profession not to enrich themselves but to fight for what is right, representing a group of people who believe that Baguio’s natural beauty, dignity, history, way of life, its source of life, are all worth fighting for.

Ask yourself, which will really be more beneficial to the people of Baguio – the building of an enormous concrete structure, or the preservation of whatever remains of the city’s natural environment? Will Baguio really suffer and the quality of life in this highland city deteriorate if SM City Baguio is not allowed to go on with its expansion plan? Or is the opposite true?

Will we truly be happier and have a better life, with less trees and a bigger SM City Baguio?

SM does not only plan to build on Luneta Hill, looking at their plan, the expansion will almost completely obliterate it, and all that it stood for, and most of what naturally stood on it, from the face of Baguio.

Are we really ready lose Luneta Hill, forever?

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