I am an Igorot, a Filipino, an earthling. My ethnicity may have made me different, but so does yours and the others out there. Our disparities may be glaring at times, however, if we look through our heart, we will notice our commonality as human beings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baguio... In The Eye of Visitors

Last week, two friends arrived from Baguio which, by the way, is now preparing for it's centennial celebration as a chartered city this September, 2009. I was anxious to know what they thought about this city of the Cordillerans for I strongly recommended that they take the visit. They were supposed to go directly to the southern part of the country from Metro Manila but the promise of relaxing, unforgetable stay in the city of Pines made them do the detour.

What made Baguio a hit? (In no particular order.)
  • The cool weather and the pine scented atmosphere. It's enthralling. It made my friends prolong their stay in Baguio.
  • Burnham Park... Beautiful! Great park! Family friendly! Clean rest rooms.
  • The Cathedral... It's a great land mark not just in the city but even reminding everyone of their location in their spiritual journey. (My friends are both Catholic. I know they are not that religious but I wonder how Baguio made them talk about "spirirual journey". Was the elevated location made them practically closer to heaven?)
  • SM City... A wow! Relax and shop, and at dusk, watch Baguio downtown lights up. SM now serves as a big viewing deck to observe some strategic parts of the city.
  • Mines View Park... It made my foreigner friend thinks he is viewing another Swiss scenery. Yes, they visited the area in a foggy day and it made the view breath taking. (Otherwise, they could have not missed the panteons or cemented grave yards below the viewing area and the colorful roofs that are aggressively taking over the place of the trees.)
  • Wright Park... It's just right but it's worth spending an hour or more there.
  • Tam-awan Village... It made my friends want to visit other parts of the Cordillera. They now wanted to experience life in a real Igorot community. I might bring them to a town in Benguet or in Mountain Province if there's a chance.
  • Camp John Hay. One of the best place to camp!
  • Cordillera Cafe, Solibao Restaurant and other local restaurants. They have not tried Sagada Lunch though for pinikpikan and dog meat menu.
  • And, most of all, they loved the friendly people all over the place - the hotel attendants, the taxi drivers and almost everyone.
And the misses?
  • The rain made the visitors abandon their horse-back riding plan and to explore the neighbouring towns.
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic. The weather makes walking very convenient but still, some of the sidewalks are too narrow or there is just too much pedestrian.
  • Overcrowding houses and establishments atop some of the hills and mountainsides. From a distance, some of the hills even look like piles of garbage. And there seems to be no stopping on the growth of establishments. Can the houses and buildings protect the mountains and hills much more than the trees can do? How long can the mountains stand to keep the establishments built on their sides and tops?
  • Two-way lane overpass? (I think they are talking about the one crossing over Magsaysay Road connecting the old market and McDonald?) Why built a very narrow one like that?
  • Botanical Garden is another great area to relax but it's not the place that it should be. Why are the plants not identified and tagged. Wwhy call it Botanical Garden after all if no one learns more about the plants when they visit the place? And what's with the commercial stalls within the vicinity? Well, if management think those are needed attractions or necessities, how about providing nice looking kallapaws (nipa huts) as stalls? Of course, these should be limited number of stalls stationed in strategic areas. It will enhance the "Igorotness" of the garden and for sure, visitors would love to have their snacks inside an Igorot's old house while viewing the colorful flowers and magnificient trees of the garden. One thing more, can't the city government do something about the Igorot's near the entrance of the garden? The foreigner friend thinks our allapos (old folks) there are just con-artists using the Igorot costumes to make money.
  • Some part of Burnham being turned into amusement park? The bike rides are tolerable since biking is considered a nature sport. But what about the bump rides? Is not Burnham supposed to be a nature-themed park?
Despite the unfavorable sides, my friends fell in love with the city. They are even thinking of buying a property there. They are wishing though that environmental conservation and protection programs should be considered alongside with the city's continued development. I do agree with them. Do the city's local officials and residents feel the same?