April 16, 2024

A recent undertaking in Baguio City last week has reminded us of the urban jungle that has become of this adored city despite its flaws, especially at the central business district, to the point the city government needed to allow the use of infrastructures intended as open public spaces for commercial activities, while it commits to being firm in enforcing measures that were meant to restore the city’s environs at least to tolerable levels.
Aside from helping promote Baguio further as a Unesco Creative City and provide artisans and small entrepreneurs a space to market their works, a newly launched project led by the Mobile Oriented Valuable Entrepreneurship, with the support of Baguio Arts and Crafts Collective Inc. and partner government agencies and groups, utilizes the concept of bringing its creative and promotional activities to barangays, instead of joining the flurry of economic activities at the city’s CBD.
The project’s organizers said the idea is not new, being one that is already being done in other areas, but they believe the idea of bringing the artists and micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs closer to their target audience by locating their activities in the barangays is a best practice tested in other places worthy of being tried for its viability here in the city.
Through what they called a “creative decentralization” program, which is being done on an experiment basis until March 3 within a district of eight barangays, community members would be able to fully grasp and support what creatives and entrepreneurs actually do – from the production of their original works and crafts, to the need of the creative industry and MSMEs to have a viable and legitimate livelihood source.
At the same time, the endeavor aims to encourage barangays to appreciate its role in sustaining a robust economy for MSMEs and support Baguio’s designation as a creative city for crafts and folk art, through the conduct of seminars and workshops and by urging the participation of the youth through the Sangguniang Kabataan to initiate similar activities to boost their respective barangays’ development.
But its major purpose is to provide respite from the frequent trade fairs – except those institutionalized as part of city events like the Panagbenga – being held at the CBD which lead to overcrowding and disrupt traffic, a situation residents have been experiencing since the conduct of trade fairs has been adopted as among the modes for the city to recover from the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The activity still comes in the form of a “trade fair”, since it involves marketing and selling of goods. But from the way it was presented during its launch last week, it provides a cozy nook – a not-so-busy street for vehicles that the barangay allowed to be used as a venue for a “food street” but a spot that could handle foot traffic – and a pleasing display area for goods and services that didn’t have to exploit major thoroughfares intended for seamless conveyance and recreation.
It is a far cry from the congestion people of Baguio have to endure on a frequent basis now when a road is closed to give way to a trade event, or when regular park activities are reduced when portions are allotted for a period of time to such activities.
Since the benefits of conducting trade fairs in promoting and selling merchandise cannot be discounted especially for a tourist city like Baguio, the idea of decentralizing the activity towards viable areas in barangays sounds favorable, even for those who have been experiencing a trade fair fatigue.
The city council, which is currently deliberating on a proposal for the city to have a trade fair ordinance, should consider this ongoing dry run, which may prove trade fairs or similar activities do not always have to be held at the CBD, and possibly, we could come up with a most acceptable and practical interpretation of the line “parks and streets are beyond the commerce of man”.