Free from the Commerce of Man

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By Linda Grace Cariño

Baguio Stories

Friday, August 8, 2014

THERE is proposal from an Australian company to build, as reported by this paper, “a 2,000-vehicle parking structure consisting of an underground parking space covering the entire football field and two-storey parking edifices on both sides of the field.” In reaction to citizen protest against this proposal to convert the Melvin Jones football grounds, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan is quoted, also by this paper, as saying “If it will come out that it will really destroy the park and our environment, then why will we still pursue it? But as of now, we need to also look into the feasibility of the proposal because of the city’s acute need for parking facility at present to ease the traffic problem especially during peak tourist season.”

Ah, that point about tourism. Again, let me stand up for myself and those who are simply tired of that tourism argument thang. Baguio does not exist to be a tourist spot. Also, this tiny city is an already overcrowded onceuponatime haven that has to de-populate, truth be told. Baguio residents should be concerned about regaining the environment that the city had some 30 or 40 years ago, not encourage a huge number of people to visit the city or live in it, frankly, especially when we take a good, honest look at carrying capacity in the eye. We have enough of a job just trying to regain some sort of ecological balance while already having to fight off squatters, informal settlers, and such, also while trying to improve the quality of tourists who visit us.

Hmmm. This Linda, so unfriendly. No, that’s not it. My parents taught my siblings and myself to be hospitable. It’s just me who says that hospitable should have a clear definition. You stop being hospitable when guests overstay beyond belief. You stop being hospitable when the number of people who want to live in town breaches that town’s carrying capacity. You stop being hospitable when a foreign company has the environmental insensitivity to propose that the last vestige of free space in the city turn into concrete and your mayor is actually studying that proposal.


Mr. Mayor, hear the hue and cry of your own very constituents against turning our park into a concrete jungle. We’re talking about the whole park, not just the football field. The cry is clear and it is strong. Let me add, why does this have to happen in the park? There is that empty lot on Harrison owned by the Benguet Lumber Tans. They can be negotiated with for that space for a commercial parking space. There is Skyworld on Session – that has struck me for some time now as a place where pay parking would thrive. There are other privately owned properties that Australian investors could look at.

Just now, I am reminded that only last month in Saigon’s parks I saw very sophisticated gym equipment stationed, free for all to use. This is the stuff we should be looking at to put in our parks. Along with better lighting and tighter, tighter security, day and night. It is unforgivable that a child was raped and killed there some time ago. Why did that happen? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with uplifting the quality of the park and its security than building a parking lot the very thought of which already offends us so much, on so many levels?

Leave our park a park free from the commerce of man. Invest in keeping it safe, secure, free, and clean. These investments are more in tune with Baguio’s nature. Baguio people would appreciate such more than some edifice built for the convenience of tourists, for crying out loud.

I just thought of something else. The Australian investors should look at building underground parking in Luneta, to ease parking, especially when tourism in Manila is at peak season. Preposterous! Preposterous, right? My point, exactly.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 09, 2014.


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