May 29, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong led more than 40 “forests in carts” in a parade down Session Road to the Rose Garden, Burnham Park, last June 25 where they were judged as to symbolic and creative representation of a pine forest. 

The forests in carts competition is part of the 3rd Saleng Festival highlighting the importance of trees in the urban setting; while creating and maintaining sustainability. 

Winner is Zaparita gardens; followed by Wood, Rock and Flowers group; and Easter College as second and third prizes respectively.

The judges were councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Leandro Yangot, Jr., and Levy Lloyd Orcales; City Environment and Parks Management Office head Rhenan Diwas, and Barangay Country Club Kagawad Romy Chua.            

As speaker for the event, the mayor expressed gratitude to residents for shared efforts in regreening and reforestation within Baguio and in neighboring areas. 

He also shared information on the diminishing areas of Baguio’s watersheds, from Busol’s 84 hectares to 42; and Buyog’s 19 hectares to only seven hectares.

He added irreversible urban decay would result in 25 years if environmental conditions such as green and forest areas, state of the rivers, and proper land use are ignored.

He said the next generation should not inherit an irremediable city, but a vibrant, sustainable, environmental stable and very liveable place.

“Our actions now to save the environment is our only option, but equates to the future of our children and children’s children,” Magalong said.   

Tabanda said the Saleng Festival could be replicated by individuals and groups to ensure environmental awareness, resiliency and sustainability; with venues such as the old Baguio she reminisces.

She said the ecosystem could be restored with resolve and adoption of the whole community approach and a result could be obtained with contribution from individuals, groups, communities and different assemblies, the government offices and agencies included, the lady councilor added. 

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan expressed appreciation for the time, effort and participation of each individual and group for the Saleng Festival, citing benefits from the aesthetic creations.

“The tree as symbol of life should be respected, nurtured and protected; as it provides oxygen, food, medicine, materials, prevents erosions and landslides, preserves water, and shade, among others. We should seriously take responsibility to foster balance between environmental conservation and sustainable living,” the vice mayor said.

The Saleng Festival theme for this year is “Amplifying voices for environmental advocacy.” – Julie G. Fianza