CEPMO maintains: Parks mainly for the community
The City Environment and Parks Management Office said the development of parks in Baguio is intended for the community more than the tourists.
Cepmo Head Rhenan Diwas said the parks rejuvenation initiatives are meant for the residents to enjoy.
“Cepmo is not concerned with tourist arrivals. Our focus is the creation of quality green spaces and quality parks pursuant to the Sustainable Development Goals as a sign of a quality city,” Diwas told the city council in response to the comment of Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda who said she hoped parks in the city are developed for the locals.
Diwas said Cepmo is implementing the parks development program for the community.
“We are creating open spaces with the community in mind. It just happened that these are becoming tourist destinations,” Diwas said, citing as example the Botanical Garden, which began attracting crowds after its rehabilitation.
He added Cepmo pursued the rehabilitation of Botanical Garden because not many residents used to visit the area and the eventual collection of entrance fees was necessary because the park needs to be maintained.
“I always wanted Botanical Garden to be free for the locals, but I did not foresee the operational costs after the rehabilitation. We need to collect fees to maintain the park,” Diwas said.
The city government is currently collecting an entrance fee of P10 for adults and P5 for kids visiting the Botanical Garden.
The city council has approved an ordinance increasing the entrance fees to P100 for tourists and P25 for residents of Baguio.
Tourists who plan to visit the Botanical Garden are now also required to reserve their time slots and schedules through the Visita Baguio at https://visita.baguio.gov.ph/.
The reservation has been required to manage the crowd and prevent long queues.
Cepmo is also pursuing the enhancement of other parks in the city, such Bayan Park, Aguinaldo Park, and a park at Sanitary Camp to give residents alternative promenade areas.
Diwas said there is a need to spread awareness that Baguio has other parks aside from Burnham Park. – Jane B. Cadalig