We were excited by the thought that from our new home, the jeepney passes first right by the school of our youngest child, then his manong’s school next. So on the first school day after moving to our new home, I walked our three children to where they can take their respective jeeps – our daughter would have to take another jeep since her school is in another part of the Central Business District.
But the boys’ jeepney took another route and skipped their schools – during the morning rush hour, jeepneys are not allowed along Gen. Luna Road. They had to walk the few blocks from where they got off to their schools. I don’t think they’re the only ones who live in our part of the town who go to those two schools in that area of the Central Business District. Those children, too, would have to walk the extra few blocks because, again, public utility jeeps aren’t allowed along Gen. Luna Road during the morning rush hour. They do this, presumably, to help de-clog that area in the morning.
We’re fortunate enough to have access to a private vehicle. One morning, while driving the kids to school, I noticed the huge cars ahead of me drop one child each to school. Three huge cars, three passengers got to their destination. We'd really rather take the jeep, not only is it cheaper, we also contribute less to the degradation of the air quality and traffic congestion in the area.
So to help ease traffic, they ban vehicles that can carry about 20 persons at a time and allow private cars that bring one student each at a time. Not so long ago, to ease traffic along Session Road, they closed a couple of pedestrian lanes forcing those on foot to walk the extra hundred meters or so to cross to the other side.
Our local government finds it easy to inconvenience the masses to please those who have more in life. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? That those who have less in life should have more in law? Not in Baguio City.
And that’s also why those clamoring for a fully pedestrianized Session Road, or at least just car-less days perhaps, that would result in much cleaner air within the Central Business District, will never get to realize that dream under the present regime in Baguio. The moneyed people are opposed to the idea, and judging from what we see right now: Gen. Luna Road closed to public vehicles so that private car owners will not be inconvenienced in the morning, lesser pedestrian crossings on Session Road so that those million-peso SUVs will not get stuck in traffic, endorsing the cutting of 182 trees for a parking lot for the convenience of those who actually own cars, the ceding of the Athletic Bowl to a private company for the benefit of the investors and those in power more than anyone else… add that to the putting up of gates around a public park because according to the city’s environment and parks department head, we, the masses, do not behave properly in open spaces and that we might just improve our behavior if we’re inside a gated and fenced area like a country club.
Today’s Baguio is for the elite, the rich, the moneyed, much like what the rest of the country thought when the Americans were just starting to establish a hill station in these parts when members of the Philippine Assembly voiced out their opposition to what they believed was a project that would benefit only the elite, the rich, the moneyed.
At least the Americans listened to the sentiments of local legislators then, and made sure that there are amenities in Baguio that would benefit those of moderate means, or the masa. Among them, a public transportation system for those who don’t own cars, those pedestrian crossings on Session Road so that those on foot can also easily navigate the Central Business District, and public open spaces for those who cannot afford a country club membership or a round of golf at Camp John Hay.
I don’t see this regime ever putting the welfare of the masses ahead of the moneyed. We’ve seen too much to expect anything of that sort from them.