Baguio, PH: The Myth of Pine Tree City

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Baguio is considered as the summer capital of the Philippines.

“To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots.” – R. Mabey

One can witness the massive exodus which happens during  the summertime when millions of Filipinos and foreigners visit a city which  is only approximately 57.51 sq.km.

Baguio always had a special appeal over other Philippine spots due to its cool climate which offers an escape from the lowland tropical high temperatures that could reach 40 degrees Celsius during summertime. Additionally the sight of towering pine trees all over Baguio surely adds wonders to this unusual tropical country experience.

A relaxing walk in chilly weather or reading a book while sipping coffee, both with pine trees in sight defines the Baguio experience the most. (Pine trees are a rarity in the Philippines)

Baguio City PNKY Restaurant (Concentrate and relax with magnificent nature in view. PNKY Restaurant.)

Baguio City Mt.Cloud Bookshop Sign(Mt. Cloud bookstore welcomes everyone to the Baguio experience.)

Baguio City Mt.Cloud Bookshop Inside(Mt.Cloud bookstore lets you experience Baguio’s night ambience)

Regretfully the opportunity of walking in an uncrowded Baguio is gone especially during summertime but if someone is persistent enough walking during nighttime offers visitors a chance to replicate Baguio’s past. Seeing the shadows of pinetrees during the night is consolation enough.

Baguio City Session Road Daytime(Peacefully walking Baguio’s street is impossible nowadays. )

Baguio City Session Road Nighttime(Walking during the night offers an opportunity to experience Baguio’s past.)

Such change is seen as a small price to pay given the economic development Baguio City has experienced over the years which has provided numerous livelihood opportunities to the people of Cordillera region.

Baguio City Livelihood(Numerous livelihood opportunities provided by Baguio’s tourism development, mango street vendor)

Baguio City Livelihood(Numerous livelihood opportunities provided by Baguio’s tourism development, mango street vendor, a probiotic drink street vendor.)

Besides crowdedness is the least of Baguio’s concerns because currently it faces a far bigger problem. Today the situation has shifted as Baguio is now changing for more the worse than for the better.

There are signs that Baguio is losing what it has worked for 111 years since its establishment in 1903.

Students of the University of the Philippines Baguio randomly riding buses entering the city to brief visitors about the ongoing environmental problems as a result of the heavy influx of people.

Baguio City Environmental Campaign(Students boarding buses to educate incoming tourists about Baguio’s ongoing environmental problems.)

A person seeking for evidence only needs to see Baguio’s famous attractions of Wright Park, Burnham Park or People’s Park  being littered with trash and now poorly maintained.

Most alarming of all the signs is the declining number of the iconic Baguio pine trees. Pine trees are being cut as a result of the rapid urbanization of Baguio City.

In 2014, a Baguio congressman was charged with illegally cutting down 761 pine trees to pave way for for a two kilometer construction project.

In 2012 a major mall operator in the city cut down hundreds of pine trees to clear land to build a PARKING COMPLEX.

It is very clear that the development of Baguio has now become detrimental to the environment. This is alarming for the reason that the environment served as the catalyst of Baguio development in the first place.

Baguio City Cordillera Mining News Headline(One of the telling signs, news headline on mine tailing spill near Baguio City)

Baguio has disregarded its history, forgetting that during the American period, a central development plan aligned with the principles of environmental conservation was implemented.

It seems that Baguio’s urban planners have failed to regard the very reason why Baguio city was established which was the grassy mountains studded with pine trees and the cool climate.

Baguio City Mountains Urbanized(What’s left on many of Baguio’s grassy mountains. Photo by: Candy Areja)

Depressingly, Baguio has adopted the unsustainable and largely short-term purely profit seeking approach to development.

We cannot forget the past nor can we ignore the reasons why Baguio has become the favorite vacation spot of the Philippines.

Ignore it and we may find Baguio becoming nothing more than a metropolis on top of a mountain in the future.  Baguio just an uninteresting and boring shopping complex.

Cut down the trees and the cool climate which made Baguio city a popular tourist destination in the Philippines would be gone. Who would want to travel to Baguio then? Where would the valuable livelihood opportunities go?

When the shadow of the pine trees are gone so will the flock of travelers fueling the development of Baguio.

Go to Baguio to be able to continually provide opportunities for the people of mountain province.

Clamor for the preservation of Baguio City’s environment.

Let’s make sure that not even the shadows of the Pine trees are gone.

Do not let the pine trees of Baguio become nothing more than a myth.

Baguio Pine Trees Mall(Soon the few pine trees left would also be gone if nothing changes.)

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