February 9, 2023

The city government of Baguio is in the process of changing plans, programs, and policies to interconnect environment, society, and economics to prevent the city’s urban decay by 2043.
“If it is business as usual and we just continue our ways, we will feel the effect of urban decay by 2043,” said Arch. Donna Tabangin, the newly appointed City Planning and Development Office coordinator, during the management committee meeting on Aug. 4.
Tabangin, an urban planner, said factors that affect the city’s carrying capacity are open spaces, road network, water supply, green cover, land for development, liquid waste treatment, solid waste collected, and forest cover, which if not immediately addressed, will lead to the city’s deterioration.
Tabangin said based on record, the city has already exceeded the 200 per square meter open space per person; the urban road network of 40 square meters per person was breached in 1988; water supply of .15 cubic meters per person per day; the green cover of 80 square meters per person; and land for development of 110 square meters per person.
The city has also exceeded the .03 cubic meters per person collection of liquid waste, solid waste collection of .24 metric tons per person per year and the 40-square-meter per person forest cover.
Tabangin said these factors affect the environment ceiling that determines the capacity to provide the resources for the social foundation to live a comfortable life.
“Off-shooting the capacity of the environment to produce resources, if touched, has an effect on social foundation,” Tabangin said as she explained whatever is done to the environment will have an effect on the people.
The factors were the reason why residents now have to wake up early during water rationing schedules, why there are now few spaces that can be developed, and why the city spends billions to manage its wastes and transport to a facility outside Baguio.
“We need to see how affected we are given the challenges and what needs to be done now,” she said.
Tabangin, however, clarified there is still time and through innovations, the city can still be saved.
“In the struggle between social foundation and environmental ceiling, we should have a win-win solution,” Tabangin said.
She cited an example the proposed moratorium on the cutting of trees, which taken as is, will not be good because people also need a place for shelter.
Tabangin also discussed circular economy, where the process of producing food and consumption is addressed but it produces the problem on waste generation that the government has to invest in to address the problem.
“It is like web-connected to each other which we can co-exist if we plan them well.”
Mayor Benjamin Magalong has ordered the city’s planning office to initiate reforms in the programs, plans, and activities and link all departments so that there will be unity in action or a holistic development.
Magalong also ordered reforms at the city’s planning office in terms of personnel to allow it to react appropriately at a given time and plan the city’s future.
Tabangin submitted a proposal for Baguio’s micro-mobility plan, which includes the pedestrianization of the city, creation of cycling lanes, revival of sidewalk lanes; adoption of a shared street; parking plan; a multi-modal transportation master plan; and a change in the practice of “door to door” transportation.
She also proposed the “Incubator Baguio” program where urban design and landscape management take into play.
“We cannot expand our land area horizontally but we can go vertical in certain zones of the city,” Tabangin said in proposing to allow the construction of high-rise buildings in some parts of the city. – PNA