Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baguio City, Philippines' Summer Capital

The modern time is faced with environmental risks and realities. These challenges are being faced now by the Philippines' summer capital, Baguio City. Located in the north, Baguio is the coldest city in the country. 

It is an irony that I reached Baguio only last January. I liked the city so much. These are the things that I loved in Baguio:

One afternoon in PMA
1. Cold weather. Bring your jackets, really thick jackets. I brought several jackets but I loved the thickest one, the one I brought in Sapporo a few years back.

I remembered Sapporo, the same flowers here
2. Flowers and neatness. I like seeing flowers everywhere because my mother usually grows plants at home. Flowers give more life to a place. In Baguio, tiny flowers are everywhere. These are so colorful and decorate corners and sides of thoroughfares. Then, generally, Baguio is a clean city. My challenge to the city government: how to maintain proper solid waste management despite rapid urbanization and the great number of tourists who visit the city all year round.

3. Strawberries. See those ambulant strawberry sellers along the road. Try to buy one and taste it. Strawberries are grown locally and organically. 

4. Philippine Military Academy. Of course, Baguio is known as the home where the finest men and women in the Philippine Armed Forces are molded into the finest managers and leaders of the modern time. So when you visit Baguio, don't forget to drop by the PMA. The PMAers are very hospitable hosts, they are used to visitors. 

5. The Mansion. You may have never been to White House, where Obama lives, or to Malacanan Palace in Manila where the President of the Philippines stays. Don 't worry because there is another mansion in the country that serves as official home for the President. I am referring to The Mansion in Baguio City. It is accessible to tourists as well. You can enter the palace grounds but of course, you cannot enter inside the palace.

In Burnham Park
6. Burnham Park. If you have been to the Washington DC Park, well, Burnham Park is familiar. The design is the same. Why? The architect of Burnham Park and of the Washington DC park is the same. For me, I enjoyed biking there. We were like kids with my foreign classmates, we biked in the evening while the rest of us paddled the waters. It was already too cold then.

In front of Igorot Lodge, where we stayed at Camp John Hay
For the things I dislike in Baguio, these are the traffic congestion and the structures along road shoulders. In a small place like Baguio and tourists are plenty, traffic congestion is a headache for everybody - locals and tourists as well. I am thinking of how this could be addressed by the city. What about banning too much cars up there or limiting the time of passage for cars through color or numbers coding scheme? Being stuck uphill is indeed a waste of fuel.

Second, much as I saw a lot of pine trees and many trees in the city, I am worried about the numerous concrete structures along the shoulders of the roads. These structures are business establishments and houses. How do we address the almost non-stop building of structures along road shoulders? Structures provide shoulders empty of trees because concrete has been on foot already. Then what about the integrity of the soil in the road shoulders if we keep on building structures? 

By the way, Baguio City is accessible by land and by air travel.