99th Baguio Charter Day Anniversary Issue
Mt. Province
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Development of Burnham Park is city’ concern
by Juan Valdez

Burnham Park has always been the focal point in the development of Baguio City as it is central point of gatherings and occasions. The park is named after the architect of the city, Daniel Burnham, who laid out the basic guideline for the city’s development to absorb population increases as the years go by.

Since the park’s initial development in the early 1900, it has not gone any major uplift, except that the race track around the lagoon was removed and instead a paved road was laid out and a skating rink made in the eastern end. Further improvements in the post-war era was the establishment of the Children’s Park on the southern portion, improvement of the Athletic Bowl with the construction of two grandstands and later a concrete fence around the bowl and the construction of a grandstand at the football ground along Harrison Road by the Lions Club together with a waiting shed at the corner end of the ground. The pre-war city auditorium at the western side of the park was destroyed and a post-war city auditorium was established on the far eastern end. Gracing the park is the Rizal monument erected north of the park having an over all view of all the park reservation.

With the coming of bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and other small cars, Burnham Park became the place for visitors to hire those vehicles. The vehicles soon became a monster the city couldn’t stop as almost each week, two-wheeled riders in great speed find their way to the medical clinics. At one time, boy scouts volunteered to establish first aid stations in the park during summer to take care of accident victims. The whole road around the lagoon was off limits to four-wheeled vehicles strengthened by a city ordinance and vehicles had to pass in front of the city auditorium where the Baguio City High School holds classes thereby posing a danger to the students thereat.

These then are the problems facing the city government as it undertakes a bold beautification program geared to make the face of Baguio attractive not only to its residents but also to visitors alike. But the problem is not easy to solve as a huge outlay must first be had to ensure implementation of the development program outlined by the office of the city architect headed by Arch. Joseph Alabanza.

To start off the development, the city sounded appeals to private citizens and firms to donate a part of their funds for the beautification of the park. Mayor Luis Lardizabal has also called upon Manila residents who have residential homes in the city to contribute to the Burnham Park Beautification Fund. All told, the city will need some P300,000 to pursue a vigorous development plan of Burnham Park.

First on the program of development is the construction of low stone walls where ornamental plants may be planted around the lagoon. Four main entrances will be constructed in the area around the lagoon and these entrances will liberally use Baguio flagstones as décor and stepping ground. Liberal growth of ornamental plants and trees sidles with park benches for two, three, and four are proposed around the lagoon and to supplement the present number of benches. The boats in the lagoon will not be removed as they will add to the enjoyment of park goers.

Around the park, no motor vehicles will be allowed, no thoroughfare will be established and this means that the motorcycles, bicycles, and other motor contraptions now at the park will have to go. At least city officials have made it clear that these contraptions will have to go out of the park by the end of the year. Private cars bringing park visitors will have to park at designated places in the area provided for to assure safety to park promenaders.

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Burnham Park Program
In 1962, the city government established the Malcolm Square in front of the Rizal monument area to honor the late Justice George Malcolm, the man who drafted the Charter of the City of Baguio. While funds were raised to erect an appropriate memorial to the city’s father, no definite plan was envisioned to be implemented and it was only in this year that final plan was made out of the various proposals.

In the intervening years, some P17,000 was donated to fund the development of the Malcolm Square. This amount is now in a trust fund with the city treasurer’s office.

As envisioned by Arch. Alabanza, the final plan for the Malcolm Square calls for the raising of slope fronting the Rizal monument site to be in level with the Chanum Street. This raised area will serve as the gathering point of people during civil parade or at any gathering held at the Rizal monument. The area will also serve as a lookout point for people to view Burnham Park and the lagoon.

Also to be constructed on the southern ledge of the raised area will be an open stage to be provided with private dressing rooms and separate comfort rooms for men and women. To reach the lower portion of the area, steps and terraces will be constructed which will lead to a pylon dedicated to Justice Malcolm.
All told, the development project will cost some P130,000 but Alabanza would rather have first P80,000 to complete the development of the area minus the open air stage, dressing and comfort rooms.

Today, the area is being filled with earth to raise the level of the site. Surrounding the leveled area will be lamp posts and ornamental plants and trees. On the terraces will be planted greens and ornamental plants with climbing vines on trellis for added beauty.

Filling the site with earth will be made until about one third of the square will be raised in level with the street.

The final improvement will consist of laying of flagstones and cement walks around the leveled site plus compacting the area to withstand pedestrian traffic. This will be followed with the planting of ornamental plants and trees.

Surrounding the pylon on the lower area will be all grass and ornamental and flowering plants appropriately placed in elevated boxes of hollow blocks to serve as the fence around the site.

Adequate lighting will be provided for in the area so that promenaders may avail of the cool evenings to take a walk in the area and also to provide lighting facilities during presentations of concerts or dramas in the open air stage.

How soon the plan will be fully implemented will depend on the speed of donors to provide the needed funds. The appeal therefore is directed to the citizenry to send in their contributions to the development of the Burnham Park for its improvement is the concern of all.

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Will restore Magic Fountain as Burnham Lake Attraction
People have been missing the enjoyment of watching the magic fountain change colors in various times of the evening. For some time, the magic fountain at the center of the Burnham Park lagoon has been out of order and steps are now being made to restore it.

Its restoration was one of the recommendations made by the Alabanza to the members of the committee on beautification of the City Development Board and the council committee on parks and also to the city mayor.

Years back, the magic fountain used to be a delightful thing to watch particularly in the evening when streams of water shoot from the dozen rings in the center of the lake. Colored bulbs were installed inside the waterproof compartments under water to make the water streams glow in rainbow colors as they shoot into the air forced thru by a water pump at the edge of the lake.

Today the water pump is serving a different role, that is, providing for the water needs of a portion of the city by pumping water from a deep well.

Alabanza has recommended that the city purchase a new pump in order to re-create once more the beauty exuded by the magic fountain. Also, the repair of the waterproof compartments where multi-colored bulbs will have to be installed will have to be made. There is also need of replacing the pre-war electric cables used to carry electricity so that the multi-colored bulbs can be lighted. And there is need also of replacing the water pipes that lead to the fountain from the water pump.

Last week, personnel of the city architect’s office started dredging the lagoon to remove the water plants which have crowded the bed of the lagoon. Dredging will also facilitate the replacement of electric cables and the water pipes needed to operate properly the magic fountain.

Alabanza said he plans to seed the lagoon with fresh water fish varieties which he hopes the Bureau of Fisheries could provide. He said he is also asking donation of fish varieties from other sources to seed the lagoon.

The lagoon used to have salmon, carp, and bass but unscrupulous persons have used the lagoon as their private fishing grounds in the evenings. Not some few people have been caught by the police in the act. A man was also caught by police netting all the fish at the lagoon at Wright Park in front of the Mansion House which sparked city officials to prevent a repetition of the act.

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Improve Children’s Park, Mini-Golf Link In Plan
The reason for so many children at the Burnham Park is the presence of facilities for them to play with at the children’s area, southwest of the park. Even adults use the children’s swings and seesaws for their pleasure, school boys and girls too, of a nearby school.

The yayas and the parents who bring their children to play at the fenced children’s area could relax during the day knowing that their children are safe. To accommodate the elders accompanying the children, the city has built benches and tables and has turned the area to a picnic groove.

This in essence is the primary purpose of the area set aside by the city and Alabanza has planned for the entire development of the whole block south west of
the Burnham Park with the children in mind.

On the western portion of the block, a mini golf link is proposed to be established. But taking a larger portion next to the mini golf link is the proposed railroad for a mini train for the children crisscrossing a man-made lagoon and a tunnel. A railroad station will be built where the passengers can purchase their tickets at a nominal cost from 10 to 20 centavos.

Recently Alabanza has looked into firms which could provide the railroad and mini-train and has asked them to submit their proposals to the city government for consideration. The investment can be recovered from the payment paid by the riders, the architect said. Any profit made from the investment can be plowed back to the improvement and maintenance of the park, he said.

A man-made lagoon will be constructed where the muddy portion of the area is located. To make the train ride worthwhile, a man-made tunnel thru a man-made hilly terrain will be constructed. Safety devices will be constructed to protect the passengers while negotiating the tunnel and the bridge across the lagoon.
The present children’s area will be re-enforced with the addition of more playthings. Tricycles and pop cars will be allowed at the cemented freeway in the middle of the present children’s area.

On the wooded side of the area will be installed picnic benches and tables. Faucets will be installed to provide water not only for watering the greens but also for drinking purposes. Stands will also be appropriately located to enable the hungry to purchase their needs. Again, profit from these vending stands will go towards the maintenance and improvement fund of the park.

Comfort rooms will also be ideally located in the children’s park.
Along Lake Drive will be parking areas for vehicles. While Lake Drive will not be a thoroughfare, vehicles can enter the area and park.
Four entrances are proposed for people to use when entering the children’s area. The entire area will be bordered by decorative fence and stone walls planted with ornamental and flowering plants.

“If we only have ready funds, we can push thru the project at a more rapid rate,” Alabanza said. However, the project is getting responses each day since the plan to develop the Burnham Park was published.

Civic clubs have inquired on how they could contribute to the development of the Park and mayor Lardizabal has asked Alabanza to allocate portions of the park for the clubs to finance.

“This is a city project and we invite all residents as well as visitors to join in the beautification of the park,” Lardizabal enjoined.

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Construct city auditorium for theater and museum
A P500,000 city auditorium which will double up as a theater and museum is being planned to replace the liberation vintage city auditorium at Burnham Park.
The present city auditorium is about to collapse but students of the Baguio City High School have shored up its braces so that they could use it in the meantime as a classroom until the city can finish a new building in their campus.

In the plan being drawn up by Alabanza, the proposed city auditorium and theater museum will be constructed on the level site behind the present site of the city auditorium building. The latter will give way to a spacious parking area. On the front side area of the building will be erected a library and a museum.

The building will be hexagonal in shape with a local motif but will be provided with adequate modern conveniences for large gatherings, meetings, presentation of dramas and plays and other stage presentations.

The area around the building will be landscaped and flowering and ornamental plants will be grown in gardens to be provided for.

Amount for the construction of the proposed city auditorium will have to be taken from the development fund of Burnham Park plus the allocation sought by the city from the First Lady, Imelda Marcos. Mrs. Marcos had told city officials during her visit to the city last summer that she will try to allocate P500,000 from her beautification fund for the establishment of a cultural center building in Baguio and she had proposed that the present auditorium be remodeled into one.

A city council resolution had recently been made formally requesting Mrs. Marcos to allocate P500,000 for the project and Alabanza has started drawing up the plans to be submitted to the First Lady to support the release of the allocation.

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Improve football ground for various sports, military parades
The pile of earth being dumped at the football grounds will be used to raise and level the area and keep water from remaining in the field.
Alabanza has laid out plans to further improve the football grounds for their parades in review, and also for athletes to use.

The center field will be leveled but grass will be grown to preserve the greenery in the area. Markers will be laid out to guide athletes as well as marchers.
A new waiting shed will be constructed on the eastern end corner along Harrison Road to balance that constructed by the Lions Club and the city architect is shopping around for a club to donate the funds for its construction.

This sums up the improvement of the Burnham Park. Other city parks will also be given as much attention as the Burnham Park. Recently, mayor Lardizabal directed the city architect to improve also Mines View Park, Wright Park, and all the other parks in the city. Arch. Alabanza said he is trying to secure other lots in various parts of the city as parks to give residents more space in a city which is getting crowded each day.

One of the lots he proposed to develop is that triangular area along Kennon Road near Camp 7 which motorists pass every day. If developed, this would be an attraction to Baguio visitors, he said.

**Published on September 15, 22, 29, October 6, 13, 20, 1968
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