July 23, 2024

Here are my thoughts as one of the consultants for the Public-Private Partnership for the People (P4) Committee in relation to the planned development of the Baguio City public market.
We must look at our public market as part and parcel of our “commons” – those areas set aside to benefit all members of the community. Beneficiaries include ancestors who made a marketplace to serve their current community – all the way to future generations, whom the commons continue to serve.
This broad context we cannot ignore. City Hall is not the owner of the market – but a steward for future generations. If we treat our current negotiations simply as a normal real estate deal (focusing on per square meter prices, or on duration of leases, etc.), we might be neglecting our stewardship responsibility.
We must view our market as a common heritage with deep linkages to our inter-generational community (yes, lolos and apos) – not just a piece of land with a quantified value to benefit the few stockholders of a corporate lessor.
Negotiations with any “developer” must weigh in the unquantifiables that figure in the concept of “commons” – like the environment, the impact on livelihoods of the supply chain (from bagsakan kariton cargadores to the hatid-sa-jeepney convoys). And yes, the effect on our suki/tawad/palista-nga culture of consumption.
So much more is at stake than those per-capita calculations of Master of Business Administration mindsets to clinch a property deal. We must appreciate why, all around the world, farmers’ markets are revived and wet markets are being defended from enclosure in concrete super-structures. (Some call it “mall-ification.”)
One may like to check on a lecture from the Schumacher Institute to appreciate better the concept of “benefiting the commons” (para sa kalahatan). It helps us understand how we are economically and culturally connected to our market.
The article differentiates the market forces (as in supply and demand) and the traditional market that we know. If we consider these differences, we can approach our negotiations united by a strong inner commitment – that honors the commons our forefathers practiced, and that ensures the best deal for Baguio’s market-stakeholders today.
For more on “commons” online, please click this link: https://centerforneweconomics.org/publications/capitalism-the-commons-and-divine-right/. (KIDLAT TAHIMIK)