THE Baguio Heritage Foundation referred to me a group of Senior Architecture students who are working on their group thesis project and identified the Baguio Post Office as their subject. Also, one of my former students who is now a faculty member of the University of the Cordilleras Mass Communications Department messaged me to be his guest for a radio program at COOL 97.5.
And so for the past two days, I was kept busy with talks and interactions on media reportage on how it was then and now, the postal office as a heritage site and Baguio’s experience during the tragic 1990 earthquake when reporters from ABS-CBN Northern Luzon came.
When the Architecture students came and ask about what they probably read about my appeal and concept of a postal museum as a heritage site, I said that our PO’s façade and perimeter should be cleared from the obstructing trading activities within the area that are considered an eyesore by some and there should be indoor and outdoor activities that engages the community but certainly not the types that we notice at the moment.
About seven years ago, I started a campaign to help save the heritage sites of Baguio particularly the Baguio Post Office and I used the growing social media hub to drum up the need to conserve and protect the postal office from decay and misuse. Somebody even noticed my Google Map markings and uploaded images of the Baguio Post Office and commented “The Baguio post office is now a place where local eateries, cellphone load retailers/wholesalers and other stores thrive. We've forgotten the value of the post office due to the rapid changing high tech form of communication.
Wouldn't it be nice to still receive snail mails and post cards from your friends all over?
There is an ongoing petition to make the Baguio Postal Office a museum. I hope we can do our share by supporting this move. For the love of the Baguio Post Office and Baguio City - let's all work together to make this endeavor come true. Thanks.
The architecture students also checked my Facebook posts and noted the replica made of the PO which I said is actually a carved cake that was an effort to highlight existing heritage sites around the city by Hotels and Restaurant Association of Baguio spearheaded by Mr. Anthony de Leon who is also a hobbyist scale modeler of wartime relics.
Television anchor and reporter Micaela Ilao and cameraman Albert also dropped by my Media Newseum for an interview on my experiences during the July 16, 1990 Killer Earthquake.
I emphasized the importance of wide open spaces as a fallback for Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) evacuation and staging ground for Incident Command System (ISC) in times of emergencies.
Separately for each group, I brought out my scale model concept of an earthquake museum and explained that I am very much open for partnership especially to the local government units in outlying towns around Baguio as my idea was shelved when I failed to link up with the mining firms.
I originally designed my earthquake museum to utilize the bunkhouses of the mines around Benguet to serve not only for educational purposes but as part of the local tourism industry of said mining communities.
My concept earthquake museum has a quake simulator as its centerpiece that can approximate the vibrations of both tectonic and volcanic movements from intensity 1 to 7.8 like what we experienced in 1990.
Noting the recent structural fire incident that happened at Km-6, Betag, La Trinidad where a building was almost totally reduced to ashes, I cited to Miss Ilao the recurring cases in the city where the small “penetrator” fire trucks of the Bureau of Fire Protection cannot reach fire incident areas because of many obstructions like parked cars, narrow road networks and lack of wide spaces to maneuver plus the fact that even roadsides allotted for sidewalks were encroached by residential houses.
For demonstration purposes, I added the toy “penetrator” truck of my grandson Akiboy to my scale model just to illustrate the educational component of my Earthquake Museum concept to emphasize the need to have wide open spaces for Incident Command System and fire truck mobility.
For the TV team, I mounted the framed earthquake photos that was borrowed by Direk Mike de Leon for his Citizen Jake indie film for visual references.
Said photos are the same enlarged prints that were exhibited at the lobby of the Baguio City Hall for several quake commemorations and I really thank Mr. Mike de Leon for returning it framed with glass.
For many years, I have been covering and documenting rituals, customary practices, celebrations, anniversaries and advocacy events crossing my fingers with hope that soon, I will someday wear my ethnic garbs like a proud tribal folk to witness the realization of a true Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Though my idea of a Cordillera Day celebration is not only the beating of gongs, butchering of animals, wearing fancy fashionable ethnic inspired dresses and G-strings with rhetoric display by elected officials, I look forward to seeing empowered young professionals and aggressive leaders who can show to the whole world that geographic and societal boundaries is not a hindrance to economic growth and political maturity of the Cordillera.
As we let our new leaders prove themselves as public servants of the republic, we must also do our share as citizens in helping both our local and national leaders steer the country and make a difference.