FINDING solutions to current and pressing problems has become the prevailing preoccupations of many leaders, inventors, researchers and civic-minded civilians throughout the ages from the time man came to realize and appreciate the benefits of new technology applied in modern-day living.
We once lived in a barrio where we cooked our food using firewood and earthenwares in our “dalikan” or dirty kitchen and back in the ‘60s and ‘70s and we had no fridge and LPG burners.
Back then, we only get to know the news or what’s happening elsewhere from our carry-around transistor radios or words-of-mouth from town-mates who happened to have gone to the town centers where people are a bit updated to the national scene.
Well, those were the days and there is no denying that these so-called modern facilities such as oven toasters, rice cookers, microwave ovens, colored television, air-conditioners and cars have become necessities of the times especially to city dwellers who need to cope up with the daily rigors of life.
In a city like Baguio, we are no longer allowed to raise pigs in our backyards as we once had and we can no longer burn our trash even if these are organic like garden trimmings and fallen leaves.
Health and sanitation considerations like proper waste disposal, proper sewage connection and management and the need to segregate discarded items following the suggested reuse, reduce, recycle are among the musts that we need to carry out in keeping with our already abused environment.
As among those who were born and raised in the country’s summer capital once known as “City of Pines”, our childhood memories of Baguio are quite nostalgic as it brings back recollections of the fresh and pine-scented air, sunflower covered hills, rosy-cheeked playmates and unpolluted traffic-free roads.
Together with my siblings, we grew up helping our parents in our family enterprise of buying and selling scraps and pounding tin cans as we were among the first to establish a junk shop in this mountain city. In fact, we were the earliest to set up a scrap buying station at the former Irisan Dumpsite and we even had a customary ritual when we started our enterprise sometime in 1979 in a piece of property that we acquired from the heirs of Joaquin Smith.
Before I became a media practitioner in the early 80s, I have shot my independent films at nature carved rock formations within Irisan and over the years, I have observed how the place practically turned into a jungle of concrete and GI sheets.
Baguio as a chartered city, educational center and among the country’s top destinations has become too crowded with almost half a million people (2015 census placed Baguio population at 345,366) at a given time and it can even double during Holidays especially during the Panagbenga season.
Now, about four decades after, Baguio blossomed or transformed into what American architect Daniel Burnham probably would not have imagined happening in a city he designed for a targeted population of 25.000 residents ... a bustling metropolis with high rise hotels and school dormitories, big shopping malls and crowded streets associated with a new term and new problem called “Carmageddon.”
With its Unesco designation as a Creative City for crafts and folk arts, I believe that recycling and up-cycling were considered as an integral part of the whole of Baguio as an art hub that also covers the stone builders, woodcarvers, weavers, artisans and the seven basic art disciplines.
Not many local residents are aware but below the huge rock crevices in Irisan were burial grounds and I saw skeletons in the area in the early 80s. When the population in the area increased, the limestones were quarried and used for riprapping and building construction.
With the recent inter-agency meeting initiated by Mayor Benjamin Magalong with top officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to solve Baguio’s woes of over-population, massive land use, solid and waste-water problems to spruce up the city while maintaining its status as the premiere tourist destination, education center and art hub.
Since I also plan to help improve what my late father started as an enterprise in Irisan Purok 17 four decades ago by developing a mini eco-village and art hub, I hope that the City Government of Baguio through its CEPMO office will finally limit the unloading of biodegradable wastes to trucks that regularly collect from the city wet market for processing at the Environment Recycling System (ERS) at the former Irisan Dumpsite. The unloading, weighing and buying of recyclable scraps must no longer be allowed at the former dump site and instead, junk dealers can do their business at the Waste Recovery Center or waste transfer station along Marcos Highway which was built for that purpose on a property donated by the department of Agriculture (DA).
This is to also restore the dignity of the Irisan Elementary School in the area where teachers and their pupils suffer the daily stench of stacks of recyclable wastes that up to this time abounds within the place.