BEFORE heading home over the weekend, decided to drop by one of my favorite watering holes in town for a break from my monotonous daily routine.

While savoring steaming brew over creamy billows of smoke from my vintage cherry pipe tobacco, a buddy of mine named Gideon sat at my table for a "Baguio-boy chit-chat."

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Though we touched on quite a handful of topics concerning our beloved city that late afternoon, two matters dominated our chat.

First, the encouraging and enlightening result of vigilant concerned citizens who paved the way for the "trashing" of a "questionable and controversial" memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the city and alien investors on the long term lease and development of the Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park. Had it not been for the local outcry against the move, chances are the "shady" MOA would have been implemented to the presumed detriment of the city and citizenry. Yes, it does pay for Baguio residents to be united and vigilant in guarding public interest.

We likewise agreed with the opinion of certain sectors that the issue isn't over yet. Officials involved the "prevented fiasco" must be held liable for "shortcomings" committed. In addition to this matter, as any other which tends to "shy away" from the general interest of the public must likewise be monitored by the local citizenry as "hawks watch and monitor their prey." Alertness and vigilance may actually be considered as the social responsibility of each and every citizen in the locality.

With regards to the Athletic Bowl development issue, my inclinations do recognize the opinion of others who do not believe that the city is lacking funds for the undertaking.

Now if the city could spend millions (as in millions) for garbage hauling alone and for other infrastructure developments, then it could actually segregate funds for the development of the Bowl.

Why allow alien investors to "dip their fingers" and develop as well as manage the Bowl the way "they see fit" when the city may very well be capable of doing so?

This may be related to the "less may actually be more" adage; less because there would be fewer personalities, parties and complications or conditions to deal with; and for the simple rationale that more locals would still be able to benefit from developments in the Bowl geared towards what the facility is and what it should remain to be: a venue for city activities, a center to aid in the development of local athletes, as well as a site of recreation for locals and the youth.

Come to think of it, the Athletic Bowl does not really need a total face-lift for this.

Here are a few suggestions: the bleachers and grandstand definitely needs rehabilitation, the oval is yearning for rubber matting, the Bowl center has long been waiting for a baseball field diamond, the bleachers at the left side of the entrance are actually awaiting to be converted to a indoor gym for the sports of karate, judo, wushu, boxing, weight-lifting, badminton, table-tennis, and the like, the pool has been aching for its own heating system until now, the basketball and volleyball courts are in dire need of appropriate concreting, some open spaces are waiting to be utilized as spots for covered courts, and naturally a refreshment center and more shower rooms with toilets would receive a warm welcome at the Bowl.

Practically speaking, if we consider the main purpose of the Athletic Bowl; who needs a hotel and driving range in the area?

Second matter which kind'a ate up our time was helping boost tourism in the locality with minimal innovations in our parks.

As indicated in our weekly column sometime in the past, Burnham Park has so much untapped potential in terms of being a premier crowd-drawer and promenading area.

Here are a few suggestions: establish Dap-ays at the Rose Garden for nightly or regularly scheduled bonfires; maximize local talent and the stage by the Lake by having free concerts; construct park-environment friendly and indigenous looking view decks similar to tree houses at the corners of the lake where tourists and locals may enjoy steaming coffee, snacks, rice wine...and the sort while enjoying live music; install a "fishing platform" where patrons may enjoy the thrill of catching fish right in the heart of downtown Baguio; establish uniform outlets for finger foods, barbeque stands, ... and the like in order to totally eradicate ambulant and illegal vending in the area; re-establish the skating rink; improve the lighting system inside the whole park; and fortify security.

Other areas in the park may actually serve as camping grounds with equipment available for rent. Instead of checking into hotels, visitors may be given the chance to experience the cool outdoors right in the heart of downtown Baguio at minimal cost this way. Part of the picnic grounds, as well as the extension of the "Pine trees of the world" park may very well be suitable for this purpose.

Another park which potential remains rather untapped is Sunshine Park. Its location and physical set-up remains as an inviting site for additional park-environment friendly view decks and a venue for documentary showings of films promoting Baguio city and the rest of the Cordillera in terms of tourist attractions and highland culture.

The Centennial Park (formerly Botanical Garden) likewise remains as a perfect area for visitors and locals to enjoy pine scented air, local arts, evening bonfires,...and like.

Perhaps converting some space in the park into a camping area would be a tourist come-on especially during the peak months of the year.

Yes, I did and still agree with my buddy Gideon when he noted during our "Baguio-boy chit-chat" that "less could actually be more." If I may repeat, "Who needs hotels and driving ranges in parks when other simple environment friendly innovations would actually cost less while gaining more mileage with respect to tourism boost up, recreation come-ons, and sports development."

ANONYMOUS QUERIES, COMMENTS, OPINIONS THIS WEEK:

I have been a resident of Baguio since childhood. Walking one day with my family along Kisad Road, we noticed informal settlers with make shift abodes in the open area between Kisad Road and Governor Pack behind meters behind the Lion's Clubhouse. Shouldn't the city do something about these informal settlers before they multiply and build more permanent structures in the area?

Sent by: (GBT) Genuine Baguio Torogi