EXCEPT for the often erratic interconnectivity and undelivered free internet services in parks and public places, the much thought of instrument landing system (ILS) for zero visibility at the Loakan Airfield and the modular parking system at the central business district, Baguio can well be considered as a truly smart city methinks.
While Baguio today is trying to brand itself as a smart city following its UNESCO designation as a creative city, some sectors want to put another hallmark to my birthplace that was once tagged as a city of flowers before the spread of the golden bush in the city and barangay parks.
With its status as the educational center of the north and the presence of powerful antennas that beams broadcast signals from nearby Mt. Sto. Tomas, Dominican Hill, and even from Camp Allen, Baguio cannot be disputed as a communication hub because of its strategic location being perched atop a mountain 5000 feet above sea level.
While some megacities are already struggling to cope with the current inflow of people, experts foresee that nearly 70 percent of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050 and this necessitates the need to create smart cities in order to make urban areas more livable and truly sustainable.
For Baguio to be considered as an intelligent or smart city, I believe that we must fully make use of our natural resources such as rain for our water needs and solar energy for our fossil-fuel-free power generation. Today, it appears that only the Mirador Jesuit Villa is the only facility in Baguio that has a working cistern that stores rainwater from gutters and uses it for its washing and cleaning purposes.
After recording a panoramic video from one of Baguio's best vantage points that shows a good 360' degrees view of the city and distant mountains and coastal areas of La Union, I had a chat with Fr Jose "Jett" Villarin who has a Doctorate degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Georgia Institute of Technology. The Jesuit priest who led the celebration of last Sunday's mass at the Mirador chapel is in Baguio on sabbatical and to also set up a weather station and retool and modernize the old meteorological station of Manila Observatory in Mirador. A QR scan to the code soon to be shared on a website and posted within the area can give real-time weather data right at your smartphone.
Since the pandemic is not likely to dissipate or move away in the near future, the creative and tourism sectors of the city are already into virtual tours, and artworks by local artists can be viewed using gadgets like smartphones or tablets and can be had through the e-commerce platform.
Recently, I saw the works of my fellow Pasakalye Artists on display at the Baguio Holiday Inn and I felt a bit sad about the situation where the hallway cum gallery is without onlookers, however, I was told that images of the artworks can be viewed at the hotel's website.
Even the NCCA supported Baguio Gong Festival had a streaming launch an online presentation that can be accessed through the social media page created by its organizers. As part of the Indigenous People's Month that showcases the proper way of wearing different Cordillera attires from Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Apayao, and Abra, the annual event also presented how one can help uphold the standards and regulate the use of Cordillera clothing. With the upcoming All Souls Day and closing of all cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbarium from October 31 to November 3 as announced by the government to avoid the influx of people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there seems to be a need for virtual remedies just like what many churches are providing to their devotees. Upcoming events such as the November art and culture activities and the 2021 Panagbenga flower festival will most likely have virtual presentations just like the recent Miss Universe Philippines pageant and the Pasakalye Artist's Exhibit at one of the hotels in Baguio.