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Making Baguio a tourist destination for children
by Edith Salazar

I am a mom of four. I also used to be a Baguio child, teenager, and student. Now and for the rest of my life, I am a parent and a professional. All my life, all 49 years of it so far, has been spent in this lovely city. This is why I can never look at it from the point of view of a visitor. I may never know how it is to be a tourist in my own home, but I also had my share of being a tourist in few other cities and provinces because my family loves to travel.

I agree with the saying, “Travel is the only expense that makes you richer.” To visit another place and be filled with awe and wonder of what you will find and experience there is very enriching. It changes and stretches your perspective as you become a different, better person.

But travel also entails a lot of resources. So when we choose our destination for a vacation, we choose “wisely” or else our hard earned fund would go to waste and we would carry the burden of regret for the rest of our lives.

Our criteria in choosing a destination for our families can be very different from one another and as varied as our preferences and values. However, most of us will most likely choose a place that is interesting, fascinating, safe, comfortable, accessible both by our resources and by distance; a place where amenities and conveniences are easy to find; a place where we can build fun memories together in a backdrop of beauty.

Children tourists in Baguio

When thousands of cars and vans troop to the city, almost always, there are children in them, and why not? Baguio, after all, is a place where families take vacations together. When buses upon buses of lakbay-aral tours from all over the country arrive in the city, most likely these are loaded with children and teenagers who excitedly want to see and experience the renowned Baguio bliss. Baguio is a destination of choice for school field trips.

Children and young people comprise a huge number of the tourists who arrive here, but we may never know their actual number. Tourism data does not account or have no way of finding out how many children come up to Baguio, but the fact is, we see thousands of them coming year after year.

Children are tourists too, whose enjoyment and welfare are equally important as those of the adults who spend their money and time to bring them here. Sadly, the tourist activities and places of interest for children are seemingly incidental and very limited. Providing these for children seem not to be in the top priority of our tourism and government authorities.

When we break the news that we are all going to have a family vacation in some place, everyone, no matter what the age, would be excited and would look forward to the date. After the excitement, everyone would ask, “What are we going to do there?”  

So, what will children do in Baguio? When children are excited about the destination, the journey becomes more fun – even if the traffic is slow along the highway; even if it takes so much preparation and patience to take the trip. And so, will taking the trip to Baguio, be worth all the trouble?

What does Baguio have for  kids?

The weather is perfect; the weather is great. And what else? Food is good and fresh. The air is clean (yes in few places!). There is a children’s park equipped with slides and swings, some of which have been there since I was a toddler or even earlier. There’s Burnham Park where they can go biking or ride and row a boat on chocolate brown water in the manmade lake. There’s the Wright Park and Shalan ni Kabadjo in Camp John Hay where they can ride horses. There’s The Mansion where they can take selfies in front of the building they have only seen in their Sibika textbooks. Not to forget SM (yes SM!), where they can tag along when their parents go shopping, never mind if they get bored and wish they could have just stayed home and played with their Ipad.

Today’s young people

Young people today are very visual, intelligent, and in constant search for meaningful and relevant experiences. They can also be hard to please and impatient because they came to this world at a time when everything is instant, fast, comfortable, colorful, animated, and within their reach. Smart phones, tablets, and the Internet taught them that and more. They expect much and are disappointed deeply if their expectations have not been met.

If this is the general nature of children and young people today, it is hard to bring them to a place where something so basic as a clean comfort room is hard to find; where the place where they can appreciate a new experience like riding a horse stink like hell that the thrill of riding a horse for the first time is drowned by the overwhelming stench of horse urine and manure.

Great memories for these young people are built in a place where the human senses are given the pleasure and the joy without the distracting absence of something so basic such as cleanliness and order.

Children love movement, that’s why rides are so appealing. And yes, we have the Treetop Adventure to match the desire for adrenalin rush. There are slides, swings, and bikes in Burnham Park; a skating rink, an arcade, and amusement halls at the mall. But with their expectation so huge and high, these are not enough.

A wish for a better Baguio for children

Every time my family and I come home after brief visits to other places, we always have something to wish that Baguio had. 

I wish for a place in Baguio where children can explore, learn, and disco-ver safely. I dream of an interactive children’s museum where they can appreciate the world in powerful imagery, and be amazed by the wonder of what adults and geniuses before them have achieved. A place where facts are creatively presented that they become truly unforgettable.

I dream of a theme park in Baguio where “the imagination can have no li-mits” and where families can have a day so full of fun and excitement that they can talk about it over and over again at the dinner table. 

I dream of a vast open space, much like the Burnham football field that I remember in my childhood to be so green and covered with healthy grass. It was so clean and lush that we used to lie and roll on them. There has to be a place like that where we can let go of our children’s hands and allow them to just run, jump, and breathe the clean air.

I wish for a place in Baguio where children can swim and frolic in a year-round heated indoor water park manned bycompetent lifeguards.

I wish for a place in Baguio where fa-milies can camp out and enjoy the outdoors safely. 

Oh, these are grand wishes and what an ordinary mom like me can do is just that – wish. 

I look forward to that day when parents like me decide to come to Baguio, they know that they are visiting a place bustling with family-friendly places and that their vacation will surely be specta-cular, memorable, and exciting – one that is very well worth all the traffic, the risk of  travel and every valuable peso spent.

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Informatics Institute
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University of the Cordilleras
University of the Philippines – Baguio

Benguet Corporation
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Cordillera Career Development College
Department of Health – CAR
Fox International Immgiration & VISA Provider
Golden Pine Hotel
King’s College of the Philippines
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Pines City Colleges
SiTEL
Social Security System
TESDA – CAR
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Ahead Tutorial and Review
Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center
Baguio Memorial Chapels Inc.
Baguio Multicultural Institute
Baguio Water District
Ballet Baguio
Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Benguet State University
BSBT College, Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
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Congressman Maximo B. Dalog, Sr.
Cordillera Kidney Specialists, Inc.
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Environment and National Resources
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Dreamforce Review and Training Center
Easter College Aviation Department
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board – Northern Luzon Region
Immigration Network Services
Kalapaw
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Maybank
Mayor Edna Tabanda
MMS Development Training Center
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
Narda’s Handwoven Arts & Crafts
NIIT
Philex Mining Corporation
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – Cordillera
Pugad: Pugo Adventure
Regional Development Council – CAR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
STI College Baguio

 



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