Out of the blue, my lovely wifey of more than 25 years and a native of Cagayan De Oromentioned recently how lucky we were to be living in Baguio City and sometimes take it for granted.
As usual, she was right. We were blessed to be living in the Summer Capital and really do take it for granted at times.
Baguio is one of the rare places where the climate is generally temperate and even chilly during the “brrr” months. Thus, the ubiquitous joke that those staying in the original homeland of my Ibaloy ancestors, Baguio, are provided with free all-around air-conditioning.
Seriously now, it truly is a blessing. In purely economic terms, imagine the huge savings we enjoy by not having to pay for our air conditioning. And to think that our beloved country has one of the highest electric rates in Asia, if I’m not mistaken.
Because of Baguio’s cool climate, however, everybody and his uncle or her auntie wants to live here, making the City of Pines one of the most congested places in the Philippines.
Designed by American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham in the early 20th century for only 25,000 people, now the number is more than 10 times that and even greater during holidays, festivals, and even weekends. And to think that when it comes to land area, Baguio is quite tiny compared to other Philippine cities. It is even smaller than La Trinidad, Benguet.
Honestly, there are times that this Ibaloy writer feels that living in Baguio feels like being squeezed in a sardine can. That’s the price of living in a tourist magnet, I guess. Everybody wants to live in Baguio if given a chance and sometimes it feels that everybody is already living here. Just saying.
Anyway, speaking of weekends, holidays and festivals, correct me if I’m wrong but most of us Baguioites, especially those who are true-blue (born and bred here), prefer just to stay home than to go out unless it’s an emergency. This is because of the usual horrendous traffic not only in terms of vehicles but also of visitors, lack of public transportation, and limited parking space. There may be other reasons but these sure are some of them.
To be fair, the city government and the Baguio City Police Office are continuously trying their best to come up with solutions to ease traffic jams; providing more parking space and public transportation services.
Kudos to our traffic policemen, by the way. Of course, the public’s cooperation is needed. That is why visitors and residents are encouraged to try using bikes and even walk if possible that would not only be good for their health but also for the environment, and the bonus of decongesting traffic.
Lest I be bashed for being “anti-tourist”, let me state that I am all for tourism since it is the main income-generator of our beloved Baguio and creates a lot of much-needed jobs. The revenue generated by visitors goes to funding various social services that benefit our people. So I am not against tourists in any way, shape or form.
All I’m saying is that there are times when I wish that Baguio would return to the Baguio I knew during my younger years. I’m sure that others feel the same way but are just too cowardly to say it out loud for fear of being mocked as too sentimental or even selfish and anti-tourist.
Maybe we, true-blue Baguio folk, just have to accept the stark reality that Baguio is no longer the Baguio we used to know decades ago. It seems that in Baguio’s “new normal”, among other things, traffic has become a way of life especially during weekends. I truly hope that I’m wrong in my observation. So there.
May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless and keep us all safe.