April 17, 2024

Baguio City celebrated another year of existence and we join the entire city in celebrating, trusting, and praying for better times ahead.

Now more than ever is the time for everyone to do their part and help this pandemic-torn city recover and shine on again. Technically, we are celebrating in September the first year of the new Baguio City Charter, which lapsed into law last April.

In 2016, I was the speaker during the anniversary of the old charter at the then Baguio Convention Center and for sentimental reasons, excerpts of my speech are rehashed if only for the memories.

Kafagway – the City Baguio has remained as beautiful as it was then inspite of and despite of the urban decay, congestion, and so many difficulties development brings.

In some areas though, I could still smell the fresh scent of pine, the bloom of wild mountain blossoms, Baguio people remain nice, the kind, industrious, self-respecting dwellers, who remain filled with idealism and exuberance, having hopes to which we all look forward to. This city has become a haven of young hearts and minds; a bastion where ideas roam free and find fruitful perfection.

Because of this natural attractions, Baguio City has become, through all the years unique, not only because of its cool climate, but also because of its social climate, the communal temperament, the general atmosphere. In one sweep of a magic wand, Baguio City became, Summer Capital of the Philippines, the educational center of the north, an export processing and industrialized zone, a sports and training facility and a center for culture and arts at iba pa. Suddenly the sleepy peaceful town we knew has grown into a metropolis abuzz with the convenience of high technology, computers and fax machines, all in the name of progress.

Since we all have a stake, let us all work hand-in-hand to preserve what we have so far achieved. All of us from all walks of life, vocation, profession or persuasion must unite, have a common dream – a common hope – a shared vision for the Baguio we really want.

In the past, we have faltered as a city because we have lived under the illusion that deliverance will come with the arrival of great and charismatic leaders who will solve our problems and be all things to us. But this early, the messiah hasn’t come and he, she or they may never will. Thus, the answer to our longings and prayers lie in ourselves, not to anyone.

This is what the great hero Apolinario Mabini meant when he spoke of “the revolution within that would nurture the new Filipino”.

This is the true meaning of empowerment of ordinary people. Not just the spectacle of people marching on the streets, waving banners and chanting slogans, but people power of the sovereign kind. The kind which make people take up their civic duties – accepting that for every right we cherish, we have a responsibility to do; that for every hope we entertain we have a task to perform and that for every good we wish to create or to preserve, we must work to obtain.

The Baguio we dream of and the Baguio we want should be a result of our ceaseless striving to become the city we aspire for.

There is no greater challenge to us than to do away with the factionalism that we see in every aspect of our lives. When we look at our city, we see a city whose people have more talent and ability than so many of its neighbors but whose collective fortunes have been held back by political controversies, natural calamities, economic setbacks and criminality. Time is of the essence, let us start a new vision, a new strength, a new unity to make Baguio a better place to live in, a place in the minds and hearts of its people. This is the best legacy we can leave to our children.

To paraphrasing Lincoln, “Think not what Baguio can do for you but rather think of what you can do for Baguio, with malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the city/s wounds, to care for her, to do all which many achieve and cherish the just and lasting dream among ourselves”.

They remain true to this day and yes, the challenges remain.