THERE is a race for space in almost the whole of Baguio City. It appears that the concept of an urban development plan that integrates the neighboring municipalities into an expanded metropolis fails to get a headway. The city’s central business district is almost 100 percent cemented except for few patches of land like the Burnham Park open grounds and few terraced gardens of the church owned school between Session Road, Bonifacio Road and General Luna Road.
Such reality leads to overflow of creeks and rivers as rain cascades from roof gutters down to cemented pavements and swollen culverts flooding low-lying areas such as La Trinidad valley because there is not much open ground in Baguio to absorb rainwater. We know that rainwater is needed to recharge the underground aquifers to keep a balanced eco-system and we have been educated on the importance of vegetation and forest covers but are we doing something to protect it?
The sad reality that we read in the news today is that trees are being sacrificed to give way to high rise apartments and condominiums and some mitigating actions are being done only after these were already cut and the place bulldozed. Even if developers and highly qualified geodetic or civil engineers show proof that their designs are structurally sound and passes the government’s environment compliance certificates.
They say that it is never too late to adopt a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle or much more, environmentally sound living in going about our day-to-day activities. I am not referring to having solar paneled roofing or glass walls that cuts electricity on lighting or boycotting Arab oils by shifting to electric cars. With the growing environmental awareness and the move by some to reinforce the Baguio Re-greening Movement, I am actually inclined to go natural in developing a piece of family property by doing what stone-age people did during their time to put a cover over their heads. It may appear to be Jurassic
but my concept of a home, shelter or living quarter dates back to ancient period when humans made use of caves, built houses on stones patched by mud or clay.
Having spent years in a farm and observed how farmers build “Kalapaws,” a living shelter entirely made of bamboo and cogon grass, I realized that I do not really need to be an architect or engineer in order to design and build a house that approximates my meager budget. In like manner as the Ivatans built their stone houses and the Latin America natives built their pueblos, all that I need are available materials such as rock, pebbles, reeds, straw and dirt to put up a simple abode.
For the past weeks, I’ve been contemplating on how to develop said piece of land and now that I have signified to finally retire from the service in two years’ time, I intend to maintain our property’s flat open ground and build village like small shelters on its slope that has a pueblo, stone house, hobbit house and a livable “barong-barong” and “kalapaw.”
With Irisan Barangay’s patron St. Joseph the carpenter as my inspiration, I believe that I can do it as me personal eco-challenge to prove that one need not have to cut trees or build multi-level buildings just to belong in a city like Creative Baguio.
As an advocate for the retention of wide open spaces for incident command system and pioneering member of the Baguio Regreening Movement, I do hope that ideas and creative concepts of artists and craftsmen such as the soon to rise Baguio Eco-Hub and Artists Village at the former dumpsite in Irisan will be supported by the whole Baguio community.
With national artists Benedicto Cabrera and Kidlat Tahimik as prime-movers for visual arts and the late Narda Capuyan for leaving a legacy in woven tapestries, Baguio’s distinction as a Creative City for crafts and folk art also takes into account the woodcarvers and stone builders or “kabiteros” from the upland provinces who helped make Baguio what it is today.
We also welcome the gesture of mayor-elect Benjamin Magalong that went viral in social media about the intention of the former CIDG chief to set-up an extension of his office to places that are considered ‘mabaho’ or smelly. I therefore propose that the former smoky mountain where the Environmental Recycling System (ERS) is now located be transformed into an Eco-Park that can serve as a venue for Lakbay-Aral educational tour especially on solid-waste management, recycling and the likes.
With Baguio’s sister city tie ups with other global cities such as Japan, maybe Baguio can also have a Sakura Park just like what a town in the province of Benguet has.