Cool Climate and Warm Hearts.

Yes, I have always taken pride in our city for being a prime tourist destination in the country.

Dubbed as “The Summer Capital of the Philippines,” Baguio is well known for having a temperate climate, pine-scented breeze, landmarks, tourist spots, and visitor friendly locals.

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City residents, officials, and concerned agencies have endlessly shared efforts in promoting our city as tourist hub.

Recently, I was dismayed after receiving an electronic copy of an open letter supposedly written by a disgruntled visitor.

The open letter described what the author termed as “one of the worst trips” to Baguio. A city which he and his family have reportedly enjoyed visiting for the past two decades.

Now if the experience of the letter sender indeed took place, then the incident may actually be viewed as a “tourism black-eye” for our beloved city. A derogatory impression on one of the most visited cities in the Philippines courtesy of the alleged acts of one person.

Supposedly written by a Cebu-based freelance travel writer with initials E.A.Z.Y., the open letter was posted in one of the most subscribed to social networks in the net, at the “” blog also in the internet, and published in a local weekly, and apparently sent to concerned offices.

For better understanding, perhaps it would be better to directly quote significant points from the open letter while omitting the name of the allegedly ill-mannered party involved:

“I am a freelance travel writer who attended the Panagbenga Festival 2010 celebrations in Baguio City last weekend with my mom and a family friend, who both flew in from Cebu to enjoy the festivities. My family and I have enjoyed visiting Baguio for almost two decades, but it was our first time to attend the festival. We were looking forward to having a great weekend in the city we've always enjoyed exploring for years.

“Unfortunately, last weekend was one of the worst trips we ever had, owing significantly to how… Panagbengga (sic)… ‘Mr.XXX’ reacted to our expressed concern over the disorganized public viewing of the parade floats last Sunday (Feb. 28).”

The open letter continued to narrate on how the sender and his mother approached a tourism officer and the same time a representative of the festival on why the general public has not yet been allotted the chance to enter the cordoned-off area where the parade floats were park despite an announcement from the emcee the floats will be open for the general public after the thirty-minute window given to media.

The letter sender claimed to have been offended with the reportedly rude reception of a festival rep they approached.

Further quoting from the open letter:

“We approached a man who identified himself ‘Mr. XXX’, and we voiced out our observations on the situation. Our feedback was met with arrogance, impatience and utter rudeness, as he boasted how he has to attend to ‘millions of people’ and how they've been organizing the event for the past 15 years already. We were not by all means seeking special treatment, neither were we looking for trouble. He then threatened that my mom and I be ‘escorted’ by guards out of the area, if we persisted. He turned his back on us, and returned to his seat.

“We were appalled by ‘Mr. XXX’s’ unexpected ill-mannered reception, so I decided to take snapshot of him so we can document who he was. He was irritated by this, and barged back, fumbling on his DSLR to take a shot of me as well.

Accidentally, my camera was on video mode, and the incident was partially captured on video. He grabbed my camera to stop me from taking more pictures.”

One of my initial reactions while reading the open letter at this point was “My oh my, how unbecoming of Baguio citizen. Having grown-up in this city, I could hardly believe that a co-local could act in such a manner.” The reported arrogance and rudeness is definitely not a distinct trait of the warm-hearted and hospitable residents of our beloved city.

Assuming the ill-reception did occur, I find the act appalling. I hope the victims of the alleged arrogance and rudeness would not generalize and think all people in the locality are ill-mannered.

I am hopeful the alleged victims would not speak negatively about our city just because of the supposed acts of one arrogant person alone.

Despite my hopefulness, I actually feel embarrassed as a local of the host city for the unbelievably disgusting and despicable alleged act. Not only was the act unprofessional for the person who reportedly committed it, the behavior may be considered as downright dishonorable. As the open letter sender put it:

“I believe that ‘Mr. XXX’s’ impolite, pompous and, ultimately, dishonorable behavior was very unbecoming of a man of his stature and position, most especially as a chief tourism official … and … of the Panagbenga Festival.”

Considering the possible negative impact the allegation may have on the impression of tourists on our beloved city, I do believe steps must be taken as to correct the situation.

Again assuming the embarrassing incident did occur, it is highly suggested for measures to be put in place as to ensure occurrences of similar nature wouldn’t happen again in the future.

If the incident did occur, then perhaps the individual responsible for “dragging” our tourist-friendly city into some sort of shame should be given the opportunity to straighten-up the “mess” and make-up for “damage” done.

On the other hand, if the incident is a fallacy then let it be proven, broadcast, and published as such in order to wipe out any unwarranted perception towards our beloved city, its inhabitants, as well as the name of the concerned party.

Baguio City has always been a home of tourist friendly warm hearted hosts… let’s prove and keep it that way.

Anonymous query, comment, opinion this week:

We have believe the festival is a fiesta of the people, and not a commercialized one. Why were some of us who chose to seat on bleachers while watching parade charged fifty pesos per person?