The uphill battle to save Baguio from becoming next Boracay

SHARE
Officials admit migration has caused Baguio's population to grow but said it is working to address the city's growing needs. Philstar.com/Artemio Dumlao

Will the summer capital of the Philippines suffer the same fate as Boracay?

Although a Baguio city councilor had reportedly assured the people that the city will not face closure, this possibility prompted many to take action against constructing any buildings that may destroy Baguio’s beautiful scenery.

A recent proposal to construct a community mall in Burnham Park, a popular tourist spot in the city, was heavily criticized and concerned Filipinos took to social media to call for a halt to construction.

An online petition against the proposed mall titled “No to Podium Car Park in Baguio’s Burnham Park,” made through petition website change.org, was shared on Twitter on April 4. The online petition as of writing has 11,664 signatures.

“The proposed podium car park in Burnham Park is the anti-thesis of what park should be. It poses a continuing threat to the shrinking green spaces in Baguio city and will cause adverse consequences to the heritage, culture, health and well-being of the people,” the petition read.

Many Twitter users, both tourists and residents alike, agreed to sign the petition with the tagline, “Burnham park is for people, not for cars.”


Call for a community meeting

Earlier, a Facebook fan page of Baguio City called out to join a community meeting to discuss this proposal to be held on April 6 at the Sangguniang Panglungsod Hall of Baguio city.

“I don’t live in Baguio, but our family goes there yearly to enjoy the cool weather and have fun with nature. But if adding a mall again like this happens, it would be a more crowded place and the view of the beautiful Burnham Park would be affected,” a Facebook user commented.

Amid the sea of negative comments, one Facebook user said a car park building was a way to solve Burnham Park’s parking issues.

“Since Baguio is a tourist spot, we really need parking space. We knew for a fact coming here needs a car, a tourist bus, some with their motorcycles. How can you accommodate all of this if you do not have parking space for them. We cannot bring back in the years during American time. And yet we call Baguio a tourist spot,” her comment read.

The mall construction was a proposed solution to the growing problem of parking spaces in the city. Based on reports, it was proposed by XRC Mall Developer Inc., which included a multi-level parking building.

Other Facebook users were quick to retort on the lone supporter. Many of them would prefer to conserve the environment than cater to the growing needs of parking spaces.

Last 2013, Baguio city and Boracay Island were tagged for a special redevelopment project in a circular issued to all government officials.

Despite these plans, Boracay was ordered closed for a six-month rehabilitation starting April 26, 2018.

The City of Pines has been experiencing similar issues as Boracay—garbage disposal problems and overcrowded streets, mostly because of the influx of migrants and tourists particularly during the Panagbenga Festival.

Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, a columnist from Philstar.com, also specified on her column titled “Baguio will soon be dead” the issues that are mostly being complained by the locals. She cited garbage problems, inadequate water supply, and air and noise pollution in the city.

“Baguio will soon be dead if nothing is done in the immediate future to address these problems,” she said in her column last March 25.