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Saturday August 18, 2018

Olsim: The moth and the firefly

"THE moth and the firefly" is an award winning short film in 2009 that follows the adventure of a little moth. Having lost its lamplight in a citywide blackout, the moth traveled into the dark city in search of new light. Soon, it found a firefly and together they lit up the night until the blackout ended, and they lost track of each other in the bright city.

The film, when taken philosophically, explores the issues of travel, urbanization, development, and migration (at least in my point of view). The moth may symbolize people who simply follow the flock, while the firefly may represent people with great ideas and innovations. Both, however, were lost in the great lights of the city.

The world is seeing a common phenomenon of massive urbanization and development of, and migration to big cities and growing industrial towns. In extreme cases, such as in parts of Europe, or in Japan, such events resulted in ghost towns where younger people leave their hometowns for the energy of big cities. What happens out there is definitely happening in our place -- students in Baguio City and La Trinidad from the different remote or rural towns would chose to work here, build their families here, and be added to the local population and economy. The lights are undeniably inviting.

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A co-worker from Benguet Tourism lamented the unfair attention of concerned tourism offices in the promotion of tourism sites: "Dagijay met promoted ti isu paylng iprompromote da...Baguio nga Kanaun nga kaya nan ilako bagi na (Those already promoted are the ones which are still being promoted...it is always Baguio who can already sell itself)." He reacted to a tourism official's statement that tourism sites which have few tourism arrivals are placed on the bottom of those to be prioritized in promotions and marketing. This means that those who have reached the millionth mark of annual visits will be featured more in the Department's promotional materials - those who have much will have more, and those who have less will have none...classic capitalistic character of tourism.

But in this administration's bold direction of closing an entire tourist spot for rehabilitation, should there be a substantial reversal on how we approach our local tourism? I have once argued with a senior tourism official on tourism statistics and capitalism. Apparently, the tourism statistics (tourist arrivals and guests) that we submit quarterly are also being utilized by the capitalists/business people who are deemed to be potential investors. This means, of course, that those sites which already have the top visits are inevitably prioritized for business investment sites. Meaning; more businesses in business capitals, more buildings in heavily-built areas. Makes sense: even without a feasibility study, a capitalist see more people as more money. As they say, why would the capitalist invest their finances on a remote village where there are only few spending visitors or residents, and where decent financial return is doubtful?

The present system encourages more development in already developed towns -- far from the ideal concept of dispersing people to undeveloped areas (to also help in their economy). The inviting city lights become brighter and more people will crowd the already crowded spaces. As a consequence, limited resources will be shared, and urban decay and environmental degradation will follow.

Left as it is, the clueless moths and fireflies of the future will soon be lost to the confusing bright lights of big cities.


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