June 6, 2023


We take pride of the resolve and passion of the city government in doing something to improve the charm of Baguio City for the long term, as evidenced by the sustained moves to revitalize the city’s environment, particularly its physical aspect.
As it is not perfect despite its iconic qualities that continue to endear it to tourists and visitors, many will agree some facets of the city long been existing need to be fixed, improved, or restored in order for Baguio to remain the city we have known, even when times got digital and virtual.
We support the city government’s long-term physical development plans, but take heed on the aspect of not overdoing the changes – if preserving Baguio’s storied past and rich heritage sites etched on its physical makeup remains a priority.
On Baguio’s 112th Charter Day anniversary on Sept. 1, the public had a glimpse on what the future physical environment of sidewalks and growth nodes in the city would be like, designed as part of the city’s 25-year urban development plan.
The City Planning and Development Office shared the plan will serve as the guide of the city in making changes to rejuvenate or restore and develop the city’s environment.
We appreciate the gesture of giving the public an idea of the planned makeover and for coming up with a “mock-up” of the future look, called “Green Walks Initiative of Baguio” built at the top of Session Road for all to see, appreciate, or comment on.
We also saw major physical changes, particularly those proposed for the entire Session Road, Post Office building, Burnham Park, other parks and structures, among other premises.
At a glance, the master plan perspective is far different from the way some of the edifices and structures currently look, which may lead one to search for traces of the classic and modern-day Baguio.
In all fairness, the program to reclaim the sidewalks and giving it back to pedestrians while being biker-friendly at the same time is sensible, apt for a city aiming to be “walkable,” even an ideal way of reducing air pollution.
And indeed, for those who have not stayed long enough to have seen the original architecture of the Post Office building, it would be a pleasure to see it minus the commercial stalls that currently obstruct its view, as shown in the master plan.
But parts of the plan involve total makeover, like that of Session Road when everything at the middle that speaks of its historical value will be removed and remodeled to fit the design of the widened and modified sidewalks top to bottom.
It is at this point we call for caution and think of the repercussions of the changes.We also suggest looking back on past efforts to preserve Baguio’s heritage sites and resources, and make it an important factor to consider in the drawing board of the changes we intend to implement for the city’s improvement.
Among them is the Baguio Heritage Mapping Project led by the University of the Philippines Baguio Educational Foundation Inc. supported by Pine Cone Movement Inc. in cooperation with the city government and other government agencies, which was supposed to come with a collection of data on the city’s heritage sites and sustain its conservation while giving solutions to the city’s needs.
This two-year project launched in 2017 aims “to produce a heritage mapping report and advocacy products for dissemination to the public, assess priority sites and have a model for retrofitting and/or adaptive re-use, build a partnership that shall sustain heritage mapping work and conservation action and recommend policy and conservation actions to mandated agencies for Baguio’s heritage promotion and protection to sustain the city’s status as renown tourism destination.”
This private-sector led undertaking, we believe, would be a big push in order for the master plan to move the way Baguio people want it, and so we trust city officials to be true to their commitment to make the master planning of the city’s urban development a product of an all-inclusive decision where stakeholders are made part of in all major steps of the undertaking.
We urge the public to be actively involved in the plan through constructive inputs, and for the city government to keep its word of making every stakeholder “co-planners” in developing the city.