In exactly one year from today, we will once again be hoping that we, the people, made the right choices and that our real choices will not be robbed of the opportunity to steer Baguio in the right direction.
Today also marks the beginning of the second act of life in Baguio this year. The year began with SM City Baguio’s announcement of its expansion project that threatens to essentially eradicate Luneta Hill from the face of Baguio, along with 182 trees that form part of our city’s last stand against urban decay. This was immediately followed by the biggest protest rally ever held in the city in recent years, and the biggest slap in the face the community ever received with some of our leaders’ defiant, albeit misguided and untrue, stand that they are powerless to help save what’s left of Baguio after years of rapid mindless urbanization.
That issue has quieted down in recent weeks as the case filed against the expansion proponents enters the trial proper. So while the Temporary Environmental Protection Order issued by the court remains that will keep our hopes for Baguio’s survival as a City of Pines alive until the judge hearing the case hands down his verdict, other issues have come out.
The City Government and Protech, the corporation that sold us the 128 million-peso ERS machines and supposed messiah that will finally put an end to our garbage woes, continue to pass the buck around. In the meantime, garbage continued to pile up uncollected along the city’s streets. Corruption reared its ugly face again in the form of inefficient and at times unnecessary public works projects, and the fact that all these projects are being done a year before elections did not escape the attention of the people.
And today, Act Two of the year begins. What can we look forward to? In a couple of weeks we will mark the 22nd anniversary of the tragic earthquake that brought Baguio to its knees. On August 27, it will be a year since lives and property were lost when a mountain of garbage came rushing down from Irisan down to Asin Road. Baguio will then celebrate its charter day on September 1, its 103rd since George Malcolm envisioned a city “unconstrained by petty politics” in 1909. Before the year ends, the judge hearing the case against SM will rule on how much the 182 trees on Luneta Hill matter.
In the second half of the year, we will be looking forward to a court decision while remembering two tragic events in and observing the birth anniversary of a city. Earthquake, garbage slide, a vision for Baguio and a verdict.
*my column in the July 1, 2012 issue of Cordillera Today