Calvary Hill trees no more-A A +A
Sunday, November 3, 2013
ALL Saints' Day is a much-celebrated commemoration of the departed back home in Sagada. Not to mention that it’s a hyped event for the locals themselves as they celebrate the day in a very unique traditional way. The local cemetery comes alive with vivid flares of smokes and fires as the villagers literally warm the whole place with burning redwoods and pine as candles are no match for the winds and usual drizzles of the first of November.
The Anglican cemetery is strategically situated amongst the hills and pines not far from the Church itself. The place is one of the numerous sites of attraction around town as it is also near the Echo Valley and just a quick trek down to the Underground River. The cemetery itself is not your usual creepy, desolate place but a haven of calm and serenity amidst the tombs and pines and winds put together. But perhaps the most beckoning feature of the cemetery is the Calvary Hill where the formidable cross is built, overlooking all the graves and tombstones.
My grandfather’s gravestone is just a few meters away from this huge cross and it was always such a calming experience to visit Lolo there, assured that his remains are safely entrenched by these decades-old pine trees. This year however, for sure those who would visit their loved ones are in for a surprise.
They would be greeted by a very overwhelming sight to behold. As the ever-updated Facebook, a rather devastating photo taken by a local is creating a stir as it clearly depicts the Calvary Hill in its stark, naked self. No trees, no greeneries, just this unsightly humongous thing that towers over this sacred ground. Calvary Hill has been converted into the permanent site of the Globe Telecom tower!
For years, this telecommunications tycoon has been utilizing the place for its satellite dish. The locals didn’t give much qualms about it as it was pretty obvious that the structure was just temporary. But perhaps the shifting of power dynamics with its biggest rival Smart and the transfer of this to a nearby town urged Globe’s claim over signal reach and territories. True enough, the reception being provided by Globe for the town before this wasn’t that stable. It was either weak or flaky. But with the recent changes, Globe apparently has to boost its signal and what other way to do that than to cut off the trees with hopes of bolstering the reception, but with a resulting eyesore.
As early as now, some defiant locals are expressing a sense of outrage over the whole thing. True, the area is owned by the Church and it has all the prerogatives to decide what to do and what not to do. Presumably, consultations had been done and the concerned parties have plans for the site. But such plans remain to be in abstract obscurity. The realization of whatever these plans are will only come to light for the public once the final phase is completed, and for sure will be another shock to the majority as much as the cutting down of all those trees in Calvary Hill.
This is not the first time an occurrence like this in Sagada made us question where our humble town is headed to. We have opted far too many times to turn a blind eye to the things that should matter in place of the progress and development that commercialization always promises. But progress for who? Is it for the greater good?
Advancement has never been a bad thing, and for this particular matter, it is ultimately us who will benefit from the expected better services but what are the things being compromised? Are these worth it?
I know I may be casting the two cents of a naïve traditionalist but as a Sagada purist, I still find it very ironic that a towering commercial edifice finds its home in no other than the very sacred ground where our forefathers and loved ones are laid in their eternal repose. It is with fervent hopes though that whatever those plans are for the site, these would be more than worth it and prove that our initial aggravations are ridiculous after all. I’d love to be proven wrong.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on November 04, 2013.