Domondon: Thoughts on the public market

Open Season

SINCE City Mayor Benjamin Magalong declared that the modernization of the market is one of the fifteen point core agendas of the city government, there has been a renewed interest in the future development of one of the most previously abused and often neglected public facilities of the City of Baguio.

To recall, along with the public market, the Athletic Bowl Stadium at Burnham Park was in a similar sorry state until the collective efforts from former officials of the city put their heads together and urged the rehabilitation of the long-neglected sports facility. Now, finally, the city has a sports and training venue that it can be proud of. It has retained and maintained (for the most part) its unique identity and image as one of the oldest sports stadiums in the Cordilleras and is now being further refurbished with modern amenities and equipment to cater to the various sports disciplines under this present administration.

This, I believe, is what should also be done with the city’s public market. The premier agora of Baguio should be restored in such a way that it will maintain its unique identity as a market for the public.

Since I was born and raised in Baguio and having actually witnessed how the public market slowly eroded from year to year to what it is at present, I personally would want that something to be done now to rehabilitate and modernize this public facility.

Considering, therefore, the noble intention of this present administration to finally modernize the market, perhaps some options or even factors can be considered before the planned modernization project takes place.

One option that can be considered during the negotiation stage between the city and that of the corporation which has been awarded original proponent status (OPS) is the possibility for the inclusion of the stakeholders’ group such as the market cooperative consortium as a partner of the corporation in the modernization of the market. If this option is realized then it will surely be a win-win situation for everyone and assuming that both the corporation and the market consortium will come to agreeable terms on how to holistically develop and modernize the public market, and assuming of course that the unsolicited proposal submitted and granted OPS was actually intended to benefit the city and its market-goers from the time the modern market is made operational and within 50 years of its lease-life.

Another option that can be considered during the negotiation stage is a revision of the infrastructure design proposed by the corporation and have it patterned similar to the design proposed by the Baguio market consortium, and have it evaluated and assessed whether it meets the standards for a modern market as probably envisioned by those who have an idea on what a public market should look like. If the corporation which was granted OPS status would want to be innovative and creative in the way it would like to help the city put up a modern market then it should forego using similar designs for its 26 SM Cities in the country or its seven SM Cities in China. If it partners with the Baguio Market Consortium then it could simply adopt the proposed market design that the former has already made and just improve on it.

Finally, and this is a factor that may be of value during the negotiation stage is the corporation agreeable in allowing itself some slack in its otherwise relentless pursuit of gobbling up the prime property and accumulating wealth and allow its magnanimity and generosity to show by listening and heeding the clamor for a simple but modern public market, without the SM City or SM Center signages attached to the façade of the infrastructure other than maybe a marker or monument to let the public know it was built and leased by the corporation, or without putting up too many floors to accommodate the shops and boutiques of their clients. Let the market operation itself be the income-generating activity of the corporation for 50 years and not the installation of another mall just to maximize its profit.

Super rich corporations are often praised for their corporate social responsibility programs and so perhaps the corporation which was awarded OPS status can be convinced to deviate from its original proposal and adopt a more inclusive and controversial-free approach in its proposed development of the public market.

The options mentioned above may be a shot in the dark, but personally, I believe the top leaders of this present administration have their ears close to the ground.


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