May 25, 2024

The sentiments about the frequent conduct of trade fairs in Baguio City, which were raised during the city council session last week, has highlighted the need for the legislative body to conduct an honest-to-goodness review of the Trade Fair Ordinance that is used as a basis in the holding of bazaars in public spaces.
Aside from the Session Road trade fair, which has become a regular weekend activity, similar activities are currently being held at Burnham Park, one labeled as an international food fair, while the other accommodates stalls selling products that are no different from the items sold at the public market and in various shops in the city.
There were previous trade fairs conducted at the park, the most recent of which was part of the Montañosa Film Festival, a city-sanctioned event, and was curated pursuant to the intention of the festival to showcase the various talents, skills, and artistry of Baguio residents.
We agree with the mantra that roads and parks are beyond the commerce of man, but we also understand there are instances when there is no other recourse but to use these public places as venues for economic activities.
However, there should be a limit to the use of parks and public roads for economic activities, which the Trade Fair Ordinance is supposed to do – regulate the holding of bazaars in public places by coming up with strict standards to be complied by the organizers and stall holders.
It’s high time for the city council to conduct a comprehensive review of the trade fair policy and define what kind of trade fairs should be allowed in public spaces. The ongoing bazaars at Burnham Park are definitely among those that should be prohibited.
As a Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts, the city government should level up the way it oversees the conduct of trade fairs, by ensuring that its parks and public roads are used as venues to showcase the talents of the city’s creatives.
As a city that is also committed to pursuing initiatives toward environmental sustainability, the city government should align its Trade Fair Ordinance with this objective.
Baguio does not lack talented individuals in the crafts and folk arts sector, but most are not showcased due to the limited availability of a platform for them to highlight their capabilities. Instead of allowing trade fairs that are only intended as a money-making venture, the city government should provide venues for the creatives to showcase their products without being burdened by the rent they have to pay.
The holding of fairs where eco-friendly products are traded or bartered is another provision that should be considered, which can also be a demonstration of the city’s commitment to help in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Aside from fund-raising purposes, the holding of trade fairs should be curated to promote Baguio’s creative industry and support sustainable business practices. These, among other things, should be one of the provisions to be incorporated in the various attempts of the city council to amend the Trade Fair Ordinance.