DECADES ago, you could judge a city by the number of newsstands on its main streets.
Baguio City already was a cosmopolitan city even then. In the early 1920s, it already has a bookstore, owned by the mother of the great grammarian Jean Edades. At that time, most of Manila still had no electricity.
After Manila, many of the English language newspapers sprouted in Baguio even before Baguio became a charter city in 1909.
Yes, Baguio had a lot of newsstands. The most prominent, even during the 1970s, was Jack’s Newsstand at the corner of Session Rd. and Malcolm Square. What is now a pawnshop used to be the place to buy not only all the national and local papers and magazines but comics and foreign magazines.
Right now, we still have small newsstands not only along the pavement of Session Road but in other streets along the business district.
And why not? As we have said, you can judge how learned the residents of a city by the number of newsstands on the streets.
Baguio is a university town, more than a tourist destination.
Local newspapers flourished in Baguio. The Baguio Midland Courier is the longest continuously existing community newspaper in the country.
And Baguio was not a one-newspaper town even then. There were other newspapers even during World War II and after it.
During the Martial Law, Baguio Midland Courier had a friendly rivalry with Baguio Gold Ore. After Martial Law, there sprung several other newspapers up to now.
The opinions and issues raised by these newspapers helped shape the unique nature of our city politics. We would like to say that because of these newspapers, our politics transcended the image and showbiz politics of the other cities.
Through ups and downs, from the 1990 Earthquake to Covid-19, local newspapers (and Manila broadsheets for that matter) have survived.
And with them are our partners: the newsstand sellers.
But not for long, the newsstands along Baguio pavements will soon be gone.
Through legislation, they will have to be absorbed by the establishments in front of them or else they will have to vacate and clear the streets. By doing so, they will have to pay thrice to 10 times as much as they are paying now in rent.
These newsstands are not earning that much. Like many of us journalists, they are barely surviving.
And by the end of the year, they might all be gone.
Well sign of the times? We don’t think so and we will not allow that to happen.
These newsstand owners are our partners in bringing out the news to you. By taking them out, you are actually taking us out as well.
You might say, virtual newspapers. But that is still wishful thinking. Many of our readers still want to hold on to their newspapers the way they want to hold on to their opinions.
And by depriving us and depriving them, you are actually alienating the learned citizens of Baguio.
To take out the newsstands is akin to taking out the pine trees in the city (which some of you are really bent on doing because of greed). You are taking the things that define us. And we will take this battle until we weed out the undesirables in this city.