OF INTEREST to the community is the slated public forum sponsored by the Baguio Centennial Commission (CenteCom). This undertaking involving as it were the ten official candidates for mayor of Baguio is seen to elicit from the “mayorables” their respective views on governance. It is also meant to allow the candidates for city mayor to express their option on their respective visions on what, from their own perspective, will be the future development of the city.

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The mayorables’ forum has been set by the convenor group chaired by Architect Joseph Alabanza on Wednesday, April 7 for three hours in the morning from 9 to 12 noon. Alabanza chairs a CenteCom special committee looking beyond 2009. The venue for the forum will shortly be announced by the CenteCom covenor group which includes Henry Tenedero of AIM - Baguio, Director Helen Tibaldo of the Cordillera Regional Office of the Public Information Agency and this writer, also a member of CenteCom.

Among others, the following items will be up for discussion by mayorables to afford the general public of an insight into their reactions and preferences as well as priorities on what they feel should receive significant importance on their program of governance for the city given the opportunity to emerge victorious in their quest for the mayorship.

These are: 1. Preserving the city’s pine forest and green space; 2. Advancing Baguio to the forefront in the application of green technologies in urban development; 3. Preserving Baguio’s cultural heritage amidst diversity and modernity and promoting Baguio’s indigenous arts; 4. Maintaining Baguio as a prime tourist destination; 5. Making Baguio a true center of quality education; 6. Decongesting the city and establishing socio-economic links with the outlying municipalities; 7. Ensuring the security, empowerment and unity of Baguio’s citizenry; 8. Assuring that the people serving in government are accountable, intelligent and values-driven; and 9. Establishing effective partnership between the government and the private sector and civil society.

The following may also be items for possible discussions: 1. Land use; 2. Drug abuse; and 3. Reproductive Health Care and condom use against HIV/Aids.

Significantly, all these subject matters were called proposals, reactions and comments borne out of the recent “Baguio Dream Day” where a mixture of teens and youngsters, adults as well as a cross section of community leaders same together to express their visions on what they envisioned for the future of Baguio.

Each of the mayorables will be given ten minutes to answer question which will be drawn at random from a question box or bowl. A panel of reactors will then be given three minutes each to express their reactions to the presentation of the individual mayorables. The panel of reactors will be drawn from the following: women’s group, senior citizens, environment groups, business groups, transport groups, tourism sector, academe/education center, religious sectors, others.

Reactors from the general audience will be given three minutes each to clarify presentations and reactions.

The forum format will be as follows: preliminaries/introduction overview, 5 minutes introduction of mayoralty candidates, 5 minutes; presentation of unified vision, 5 minutes; question and answer, 90 minutes; reaction from the panel, including responses from the candidates, 30 minutes; clarification from the audience, 15 minutes; and resolution/closing 5 minutes.

The entire proceedings will be aired live over chosen local radio stations and television.

This ten mayoralty candidates are Mauricio Domogan, Elaine Sembrano, Jose Molintas, Mark Go, Jun Labo, Peter Puzon, Erlinda Lazo, Butch Mandapat, Willie Hernandez, Ruben Barcelo.

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One another and equally compelling subject matter pertains to the city’s water supply and services. The question being asked is: Will there be enough water supply for the expected peak city population during the Holy Week and entire summer holiday season? This question is being raised with the advent of the so-called “El Niño” phenomenon during the dry months of the year covering most of the summer months.

Traditionally, there are two weather cycles in Baguio; The summer or dry season and the wet or rainy season.

During the rainy months, Baguio’s water supply is primarily sourced from spring and reservoirs, notably the Santo Tomas Rain Basin (RTSB). During the dry season, water is held in storage in the 50 something city deep wells some 400 feet below the earth surface or on aquifers.

It is the latter water sources which are activated during the dry season to accommodate the requirements of the locality.

Somehow, this system of dry and wet season water sources have traditionally been sufficient to provide the water needs of the community and visitors during summer.

Figures released by the production division of BWD say the present rate of utilization of the 50 city deep wells is 85.63 percent. This effectively maintains a 15 percent reserve margin in the dry season. The same production figures indicate that BWD does not go beyond 94 percent rate of utilization at the height of the dry season. The BWD figures also indicate that at the dry season’s rate of utilization, BWD’s groundwater supply would still be viable at 93 percent in August 2010 when the wet season shall have officially set in.

From all indications and as the production figures show, the occurrence of a water crisis whether during the dry or wet season is not an immediate concern.

This means, the city population of grossly 120,000 people together with the expected traditional summer exodus to Baguio of tourists and visitors from national and international places can all get their summer requirements of water. This augurs well for Baguio’s tourist trade and industry which has regained viability in recent times.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by BWD GM Tessie de Guzman said the present situation “will not cause undue alarm to the public if we find no abnormalities” induced by El Niño. And in order to prevent undue public alarm relative to the local water supply “we can only plead for accurate reports.”