A TEXT message late Wednesday afternoon got the adrenalin pumping for me and reporter Rimaliza Opiña. The message merely said that workers were already starting to demolish the concrete pine tree atop Session Road.
A message like that is like a bolt of pure caffeine for someone like me. It is one of the those things we in the Baguio media are constantly on the lookout for – it being one of the more controversial structures in Baguio, or anywhere in the Cordillera for that matter.
Anyway, I tasked Rima to verify the report and to start calling everyone in City Hall to get a comment or two. Even the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways, actually.
But alas, no one wanted to talk. The mayor’s executive assistant Jay Co could only advise us to talk to Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. That wasn’t a confirmation of the information, but it was enough to get the ball rolling for Sun*Star Baguio’s Thursday story.
Still it wasn’t enough to actually run a story on. A check with Rizaldy Comanda, the untiring photo contributor of this paper, informed us that the workers there did not have any information (not surprisingly). Another with Bombo Radyo ace commentator, Jun Villanueva, even provided conflicting report.
Jun said the tree was only being given a makeover.
But my source was persistent, the tree was coming down and a new monument was to rise.
With the hour getting late, I had to make a decision and I told Rima to make a speculative story. I was praying silently that the gambit would prove itself out in the end.
Such is the life of a local mediaman (sigh).
Anyway, the concrete pine tree was not “cut” down by a “concrete chainsaw” (as was previously intimated to me). It took sledgehammers, chisels and brute human force. In the end it only took workers 18 hours to demolish the abhorred tree and another 40 hours to make the replacement.
Talk about fast!
If I remember right, it took more than a month to build that abomination of nature to the tune of P1.8 million back in 1994.
Since then it has been one of the central themes around coffee shops and other hangouts of kibitzers like me. Mainly the talk centered on its absolute uselessness and waste of government money. Nobody even hinted graft, however, and I’m not about to do so now.
But is the replacement any better?
A quick tour of the same watering holes revealed… absolutely nothing. Either the kibitzers are out for lunch or they don’t have any stinging remarks about the “Stonehenge of Baguio”. My FaceBook account also remains silent about the matter.
In the weeks prior to the destruction, my FB was filled with comments about this tree. But now that the replacement is there, the same people are just plain mum… or have they ran out of things to say.
How about you? You have anything to say about this piece of so-called modern art?