Nodding but not quite there yet

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By May Anne Cacdac

The Iron Maiden

Thursday, January 9, 2014


FINALLY.

Finally I heard something good from Wednesday’s Department of Tourism-Cordillera initiated Kapihan sa Baguio.

Regional director Pura Molintas bared plans of encouraging our tourists to explore the trail less taken.

How?

Constructing sidewalks, biking lanes and horse trails with the help of course of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

She also bared plans of “looping” parks making it easier for tourists to explore these tourist destinations in the city.

The blueprint, from what I understand, will integrate heritage sites into these trails.

And then there is this plan of a heritage site tour.

This is not exactly new to me. I grew up with Uncle Ramon Dacawi who has led me and thousands of children into the Busol Watershed reservation known as the “eco-walk”.

And it is also Uncle Mondax who initiated the urban heritage walk which I had the pleasure of joining when we were both members of the Board of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Baguio.

I then joined pupils of Rizal Elementary School in rediscovering the heritage sites of Baguio within the Central Business District (you won’t believe how many heritage sites there are in Session Road alone). The YMCA Board and staff then acted as guides for the children, relating to them the historical value of the places we visit.

We started at the forest park adjacent the Baguio Convention Center.
This is the only remaining forested patch in the CBD and will hopefully remain that way. Pray we don’t see the day it is developed into a residential complex.

From there we proceeded to the Casa Vallejo. Built in 1909, and one of the oldest institutions in the city, it survived the Japanese carpet bombing during WWII in 1941. The hotel also served as a temporary site of the Baguio City High School in 1945.

Casa Vallejo will always have a special place in my heart. That is where my grandfather Trofimo (pops of pops Willy) retired. He scrubbed floors there and would tell us stories of the young Ongpins. He walked to work and my cousins and I would wave to him from the jeep on our way to school. (I am trying hard not to cry right now). In fact, when Casa Vallejo reopened its doors to the public, I just had to go there and take a picture of the floors, knowing they are the original floors, telling the staff my Lolo lovingly took care of this place for so many years.

From there we proceeded to the Baden Powell Inn to the Veterans Park and then finally to the Burnham Park picnic grounds.

And while we were at this walk, we had stick brooms and dust pans trying to do our part in keeping the city clean.

So you see the heritage sites tour is not really a novelty. But I do commend the DOT for planning to take it to a new level.

However, I still have a problem with the DOT saying it is really up to the city government to address the carrying capacity of the Summer Capital.

Dir. Molintas said they are espousing two options: invite more but make them spend less or invite less but make them spend more.

Now, now. We can’t be coming up with all these programs enticing these tourists and not really give a darn about how the city will ‘carry’ them. Should not our programs be holistic?

Of course we want a bustling tourism industry. We don’t want garbage though. Or water shortage. Or heavy traffic. And these are still concerns wanting to be addressed.

Have we not been stressing that tourism is the concern of all? And if we truly want tourism development, then we must not leave the city government alone to its elements. This is where responsibility is shared. And DOT must take its share of the pie, too.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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