“I've been walking these streets so long singing the same old song, I know every crack in the dirty sidewalks of Broadway.”
AS A boy in Baguio, I grew up listening to folk and country music often singing Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Also during my high school’s cadetship for Citizen’s Army Training, we jogged around Burnham Park singing “There she was just walkin' down the street singin', "Do wah diddy, diddy, dum diddy do…” while catching our breaths in every stride.
I’ve been walking and singing in varied places from my childhood clean-up chore at the Baguio cemetery, after school walk to our farm in La Union and in some organized activities such as the Eco-walk Program that we organized in the early nineties. Because the eco-walk program of the Baguio Regreening Movement is more of an experiential and value formation activity for children, Ramon Dacawi and the rest of our group spent more time giving briefings on the eco-system of Busol Watershed and the need to preserve the forest.
Michelle Garcia, a Baguio girl who studied Tourism and finished her master’s degree on Urban Management is initiating a move as part of her advocacy to pedestrianize or humanize the city’s busiest streets. Michelle observes that Baguio’s sidewalks are shrinking because we are not using them frequently, and this probably prodded road builders to keep reducing the widths for pedestrians all around.
We have to also assert for pedestrian infrastructure because people keep thinking of parking infrastructure too much she asserted.
In our recent exchange of notes, Michelle said she’s coming home to initiate an experiment and conduct a series of leisure walks this April to get enough responses to rationalize why we need better infrastructures in Baguio. Her idea is to come up with a good report that can handed to city planners but this should be backed with actual and updated experiments. As she has already planned, there will be leisure walks on April 21, 2018 from Pink Sisters to Mansion Mirror which runs to about 35-50 minutes for Series 1 and from Rizal Park to Panagbenga Park for Series 2 that may take about 30 to 40 minutes.
For April 22, the Series 3 leisure walk will start from Rose Garden to Pink Sisters for an approximate time of 30 minutes and Series 4 will start from the Maharlika Livelihood Center via Session Road to BGH Park which may take about 30-40 minutes. The fifth series of the experimental leisure walk will be on April 28 and it will start from the Panagbenga Park near the old Camp John Hay gate to the Botanical Garden for an approximate time of 30 minutes.
For those who might want to know why such activity is worth joining, Michelle has outlined some points as part of the objectives of the leisure walk project. These are to audit the sidewalks of these routes, to audit smoke-belchers, to measure the health of walkers before and after the walk and to initiate a community-led leisure walks. Further, the leisure walk is also meant to demonstrate the impact of a 1.5-2.5 km radius walk, audit the behavior of motorists, pedestrians and participants and to demonstrate that a leisure walk does not need a private car and the initiative to show how public transport is accessed after the walks.
Since the walks will follow the side lanes where vehicles go downhill to lessen the impact of carbon exhausts, this activity will likewise identify barriers so we would know what we need to fix.
However, in every worthy community event, volunteers are needed to ensure that such project achieves its goals and objectives. The event will be requiring volunteers for safety and security like paramedics, pulmonary doctors, calorie-counting nerds, statistical geeks and photographers for documentation. Included in Michelle’s wish list for volunteers or sponsors include those from water refilling stations, printers for certificates of finishers and Wi-Fi internet providers so that an Instagram and Facebook Live can be streamed during the walk.
For interested participants, Michelle has listed some must haves like walking shoes, refillable water-bottles, positive mind and participant’s willingness to sacrifice their lungs from air impurities since Baguio’s environs is no longer as it used to. By the way, the singing part is just for the fun and one need not have to carry tunes while enjoying the trek.
I am in touch with Michelle via social media and if you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to send me a feedback at my email email@example.com, through my FB account bearing my name or via Baguio Leisure WALKS Series of Facebook.