Issue of April 15, 2018

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Good news, bad news

There were two situations that brought our beloved City of Baguio into the consciousness of the world last week. One is good news and the other is bad news. As in all others, let me start with the good news.

A report released by Numbeo, a computer online data based survey entity, gave information that Baguio City ranks among the top 10 safest cities in South East Asia. It placed sixth among a hundred or more cities. According to Numbeo, the result was arrived at after polling several respondents based on questions that are asked in government surveys. Specifically, the survey concentrated on the crime and safety indexes.

Explaining the procedure it applied, Numbeo said that “crime index is an estimation of the overall level of crime in a given city or country, while safety index is the opposite of crime index. If the city has high safety index, it is considered safe. To generate a current index, we use data up to 36 months old. We include only cities where there are at least a certain number of contributors. Our semi-annual index is remade twice per year by pushing current index into this historical view.”

While there are three other cities in the Philippines, i.e. Valenzuela City, Davao City and Cebu City, also listed in the top 10, only Valenzuela City and Davao City ranked higher with the former being number two and the latter being number four. By logic, therefore, Baguio City is the third safest city in the Philippines. That really counts for much because safety is a good barometer of prosperity and progress.

I need not surmise why Baguio City remains to be among the top 10 safest cities in Southeast Asia because of obvious reasons. For one, people from the Cordillera are inherently peaceful, disciplined, respectful and well mannered, even timid, patient and unreasonably forgiving at times. Another is that the city is such a small place that everybody is well acquainted with everybody. People who live here, more or less, share the same ethnic beliefs and traditional values, reason enough to foster camaraderie and avoid any semblance of a feud. We love to be at peace with our neighbors.

The bad news is that Baguio City was categorized in the same environmental blight as Boracay. We all know what is happening in the small paradise island. It is on the brink of being closed because of the degradation and ecological disaster inflicted upon it by greedy businessmen. According to news items, the sewerage system of some establishments there is defective that the waste being generated is dangerously allowed to flow directly into the beach fronts. It had become so bad that the water in and around the island is contaminated to the point of being a health hazard to those who would wade and wallow in it. President Duterte calls it a “cesspool.”

With what happened to Boracay, officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are closely monitoring the environmental impact of over-development and over-use of natural resources in other tourist spots, specifically mentioning Bohol, Palawan, and the City of Baguio. There are proposals that, these areas too, must be closed and rehabilitated. With this observation, does it mean that Baguio City has so degenerated into a sorry state that it needs rehabilitation in the same breadth as Boracay? I pray not. Yet, the situation is there to see. Reality beckons and no amount of denial can parry the truth that Baguio City is on the way towards “urban decay” if no remedial measures are instituted.

Pine trees have been cut with impunity, mountains and hillsides are being leveled without conscience, air pollution is on the constant rise and pollution is on a runaway level. If nothing is done about these problems, it will take its toll in a matter of years and the City of Pines will be as bad, if not worst, than Boracay. If this happens, the good news generated by the survey report of Numbeo will be for naught. For, what good will a safe city be if it is in ruins and shambles?

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