Why Baguio Is Dying

mukhang peraThe truth is: SM Baguio is just a scapegoat of Pseudo Environmentalists, because they’re politicians who can’t go against the REAL CAUSES of ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION in Benguet and Baguio City: MINING CORPORATIONS who advertise in newspapers and give PR money to columnists, VEGETABLE FARMERS who fund political campaigns, and informal settlers who vote for them.

In my widely read post, “The Rise of Syndicated Environmentalist Causes”, I noted that Project Save 182 mover Karlo Altomonte’s Open Spaces was holding a Valentine’s Day performance at Camp John Hay — an organization which Dr. Michael Bengwayan accused of killing trees a few years ago. I also pointed out that Former John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC) Operations Group Manager Frank Daytec is the brother of Lawyer Cheryl Daytec Yangot” another prime mover of Save 182. Daytec-Yangot is the wife of Acting Baguio Vice Mayor/Councilor Leandro Yangot, a JHMC board member and mother of Councilor Karrmin Yangot.

The mention of how all these movers are somewhat connected to Camp John Hay and Baguio City Politics is somewhat indicative of why the group seems to be targeting one business in particular rather than going after the larger cause of environmental degradation in Benguet — poorly regulated agriculture that displaced hundreds of hectares of pine tree forests.

Politicians like Daytec and Yangot can’t afford to go head to head against farmers, some of whom may actually be political campaign financiers.

Another group of people that Daytecs and Yangots can’t afford to get angry are the residents and “informal settlers” of Baguio City itself. I pointed out in one of my first posts in Pinoy Buzz on the Save 182 Movement way back in April 2012 that the unplanned conversion of surrounding forests into residential areas was the bigger reason for all the environmental ills experienced in Baguio City:

From the top of the steps leading to the Baguio Cathedral, one could see thousands of pine trees surrounding the city and that was what really justified the city’s other moniker which is “the City of Pines”.

Perhaps the value of the pines that are inside the city itself is perhaps more ornamental or aesthetic than ecologically functional. It filled up the open spaces which were in the design made by Daniel Burnham for the city and somewhat made the city feel more like a part of its surrounding wooded areas.

Now, over the decades, the wooded areas surrounding Baguio City gave way to the sprawl of houses and buildings. This happened in such an unplanned way that it destroyed the vistas that once made Baguio City really remarkable.

Recently, I found a Baguio Resident’s publicly posted pictures on Facebook of the hill of houses surrounding Baguio and it underscores my point that it is not really SM that is killing Baguio City — IT IS THE RESIDENTS THEMSELVES.

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As a preface to JB Baylon’s album, he wrote:

The city of Baguio began as a mining town…and in the days of my youth was a great place to head to when summer came…cool breeze, the scent of pine, a perfect getaway.

Today it is dying. And mining is not the culprit…unplanned urban expansion is. When Baguio’s hills are deforested to give way to houses, houses that are wantonly built, allegedly by informal settlers who someone get permits from – or are tolerated by – the authorities – then I fear we have not only an environmental or ecological disaster but also a natural calamity-induced disaster-in-the-making!

It might be best to ask geologists, but it seems to me that Baguio’s hills are not solid as rock but more like clay soil in nature…so I have been asking myself through the years as I notice how the hillsides get slowly covered by houses: will the hillsides hold?

Okay, girls and boys, can you say Cherry Hills landslide? What has Acting Vice Mayor/Slash Councilor Yangot done to ensure these houses will not slide off the hills?

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Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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46 Comments on "Why Baguio Is Dying"

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grace bandoy
Guest
Leandro Yangot is not with the local government anymore. He used to be the ABC (Association of Barangay Councils) President automatically making him a councilor of this city. last 2010 elections he ran for congressman but lost. he is again running for councilor this 2013…. it is true that it is all these one million people here that’s killing baguio i personally blame the universities here and the call centers for attracting all these gazillions of people to come here and reside why dont all these universities and call centers build their institutions in pangasinan, la union, tarlac or ilocos?… Read more »
da cow
Guest

I think you shouldn’t blame schools for setting up in baguio. SLU is a very old university and it wouldn’t make sense for them to build their annex school far away from the main university. I blame the government and the informal settlers for the condition of baguio right now.SLU is known for being the light of the north and i would want to keep it that way.

Libertas
Guest

the truth is that in the 3rd world things inevitably reduce to the lowest common denominator. heritage, style and culture are subservient to short term greed without any conception of long term integrated planning. baguio is not the only victim, now or in the future.
irrespective of playing a blame game, the underlying rationale is the community culture, aided and abetted by local politics, which always has a grubby and greedy finger in the pie.
a case of the blind leading the blind.
a corrupt mayor adding fuel to the fire
and somewhere of beauty becoming a cess-pit
long live korea

MidwayHaven
Guest

There are no real environmental groups in Baguio; just groups of people with their own vested interests.

It is arrogant for people to destroy Nature, but it is equally as arrogant for people to save Nature.

Analyn
Guest

I couldn’t agree more.

guy aliping
Guest

baguio did not began as a mining town….it was the americans who planned,designed and created baguio as their R&R with a capacity of a quarter of a million people.
baguio is not dying. it is developing like any other beautiful cities in the world. sm came in adding more beauty to baguio.
population is the one destroying facade of baguio.
blaming the yangot and daytec is a sign of ignorance.

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

The picture of Baguio in the article doesn’t look like a beautiful place.

MidwayHaven
Guest
On the contrary, SM made Baguio a worse place than it is today. Sure, Baguio was already bad before the Sy’s purchased the land where SM now stands, but SM brought the Pinoy shopping mall culture to a city that quite frankly never needed it. The Yangots and the Daytecs are definitely to blame on a large part. If you’ve been reading previous articles and evidences presented by commenters on GRP, you’d find out that the Daytecs have always supported (and will again support the re-election of) the incumbent Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan, who welcomed SM with open arms. It… Read more »
Alvin
Guest

You are in denial. I have been to Baguio almost twice a year as a child in the 90s. It was beautiful then. I went there last 2009, 2010, 2011, big parts of it are just crap now.

sancho alconce
Guest

Baguio does not have the monopoly of a city dying from its own inhabitants. Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Bacolod, Davao City, Gensan, Iloilo and Butuan are now showing advanced symptoms.

ChinoF
Member

Was is it here or in the Facebook group that someone posted, life has become so hard and expensive in the rural areas that instead of buying LPG, they just chop every tree in sight for firewood. Now think of this situation for the squatters in Baguio. That may explain one big cause of Baguio’s degradation as a tourist site.

Paul Farol
Guest

Chino, using wood as cooking fuel has long been a practice in the provinces. The next fuel of choice is kerosene. People in the provinces are usually the ones who have access to the “bayan” or town — it’s pretty hard to bring LPG from the bayan to a remote rural area.

FALCO DINGAL
Guest

PAUL FAROL- I SUGGEST YOU ALSO INCLUDE IN THIS WRITE UP THE EFFECTS OF THE TITLED ANCESTRAL LAND CLAIMS TO THE DETERIORATION OF BAGUIO.. RECENTLY, MANY PORTIONS OF LAND ARE ANCESTRALLY CLAIMED.. EVEN THE PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE HERE IS ANCESTRALLY CLAIMED..

Analyn
Guest

What’s wrong with reclaiming what is meant to be owned? Are you sure that reclaiming ancestral lands leads to deforestation and deterioration of the city? If so, what an accusation you have there against the IPs of Baguio. Do your research first.The Ibalois did not build buildings, condominiums, malls, or mansions in their lands.

P.S. Granting a CALT is not as easy as serving you your order in a restaurant.There’s a process involved.There are legit titles and there are questionable ones.

monk
Guest

If residents are the problem, then that doesn’t help mall owners who rely on the same as customers.

Myrna Crowther
Guest
I left Baguio City in 1980’s to come to live in the US and the last time I went to visit this beautiful Baguio City, was in 2011. I once thought that Baguio was one of the best places to live, but not anymore. It pains me to realize that it is too crowded, polluted, and God forbid, it could be considered as a dangerous place/ not the safest place to live, in terms of crime rates. I was/ and still am so disappointed and saddened how crowded and polluted the place is now a days. And noticing at how… Read more »
benign0
Admin

Pinoys have a reverse-Midas Touch. Everything they touch turns into crap.

Carl Van Hoven
Guest

I completely agree and I’ve often wondered why.But that’s like opening a big can of worms.

Baltazar Dioquino
Guest

How can you have intelligent analysis if ‘the facts’ on which it is based is false? Yangot is not the Vice-Mayor of Baguio City. He was the no.1 Councilor for a time and became acting vice-mayor but is no longer in the City Government.

Responsible blogger? Hmmmm….

roly
Guest

quote: “On the contrary, SM made Baguio a worse place than it is today. Sure, Baguio was already bad before the Sy’s purchased the land where SM now stands, but SM brought the Pinoy shopping mall culture to a city that quite frankly never needed it.”

seriously? why sm only?? center mall and cooyeesan were here first. think back…what have you done for baguio??

anyway i do agree with what you have posted earlier….”just groups of people with their own vested interests”

MidwayHaven
Guest
SM, Center Mall, and Coo Yee San have ALL destroyed Baguio. Add to that the vegetable farmers, so-called “ancestral land” claimants, and also ALL of the residents who choose to have individual houses all over the City. All these people destroyed Baguio. Worse, even the hypocritical pseudo-environmentalists like Save 182 are contributing to its destruction by claiming to have a monopoly on “environmental awareness” and “green activism.” And why should I mention what I have done to save Baguio? I promise you I have done my part in making the City a better place, but I would rather not brag… Read more »
abner
Guest

last time i was in baguio was in 2005 and even then the urban planning and pollution in the city proper made me not want to come back ever

Violet Bolwer
Guest
The last time my family went there was in December 2010. Expecting Baguio to be like what they were when they were still small, my children all grown up, and me and my husband, were all disappointed. Pollution and traffic is terrible in the central city. Good thing we’re booked at Hotel Elizabeth which is a little far from the central so less pollution and no traffic. What happened to Baguio? It even stinks. Long time ago when you go to Baguio you will really smell the fresh air and the scent of the pine trees. Now? It’s replaced by… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Sad ending to a beautiful article. Sad for the environment, but more sad for the author for failing to maintain focus on the main issue. The main issue of the article, and more importantly Baguio City, and the Philippines in large is not land-slide! The main issue here is deforestation, extinction, destruction first-hand, not second-hand! Land-slide is the lesser of the two evils! This article was supposed to focus on the destruction of nature, but suddenly half way through it turns its back on the real problem and starts getting populistic by suddenly crying out the cause of the deforesters,… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest

Um, if you read closely, the article only mentions landslides in passing, and as an effect of ecological collapse. The focus on the article is still focused on Baguio’s decay.

Alex A
Guest

It is not only the local politicians who can not go against the real causes of environmental degradation in Baguio and Benguet, but there are also government bureaucrats who have tremendous responsibilities in keeping our environment good. Both do nothing effective except some press releases to deodorize their image.

Alex A
Guest

The failure of the local government is evident in its inability to implement a land use plan. If anyone can construct a house in any place, then you can always have a unsightly and unsafe hill as shown in this article. But who cares about unsightly and unsafe dwellings? what is important is that they (squatters, miners, vegetable growers, LGUs) benefit from it. So this will likely grow and continue, until nature acts and stops it all, in a grand fashion, a disaster that can kill many. Well, history repeats itself…until we learn our lesson.

allan
Guest

Corruption- that’s what makes baguio today.

Ronaldo
Guest
I Love Baguio very much, but I saw Baguio’s transformation from “Good to Worse” condition. When you get to the proper city it says “The Cleanest and Peaceful City in the Philippines, but to my dismay due to the facts that everywhere you go now there’s garbage’s all over not to mention the “Graffiti” on Street Signs and Government walls etc., a clear act of Vandalism that nobody knows if the Mayor of Baguio is getting its attention or just keeping a eye blinder. Then there’s the uncontrollable muslim vendors who doesn’t respect the culture and cleanliness of the Local… Read more »
MidwayHaven
Guest

I’d like to think that too much love killed Baguio.

purplejacket
Guest

Di po lokal ng baguio ang mga Ifugaos. The Ibalois are. Igorots/Cordillerans are the general term to refer to the original inhabitants of the Cordilleras.

Back to the topic, I don’t think that the destruction of Baguio is caused by Muslims or Koreans or lowlanders alone. Not even just by Yangot and Daytec (who, by the way, is a human rights activist). It’s a collaboration of many things, centered on greed. I very much miss my old Baguio too and I am not sure if we will ever get it back.

johnny bangloy
Guest

hindi na po maibabalik ang mga bundok na pinatag nila. mga punong kahoy pwede pa..,pero ang mgagandang kabundukan na madalas namin puntahan nuon ay wala na

Aeta
Guest

That is the sad fact about Failipinos; they are willing to sacrifice the natural beauty of their country, at a chance to make a profit and to appear “world class” material to the rest of the world.

Ronaldo
Guest

You can Love with Respect and not Love with Destructive Intent.

marie
Guest
Just when I thought Baguio is sold to Korea. How come that there are so many korean establishments lately? I think the blame should not be put SM alone or to SLU either. Baguio can never be Baguio without SLU because the institution produced one of the finest graduates in the Philippines. And it has been there since Baguio started. The call centers are government projects to increase employment and corruption also. How come the government installed fly over in BGH and La Trinidad? Fly overs are suppose to connect two or more areas that will make the travel time… Read more »
Greg
Guest

Its too late, we can no longer bring back the trees. Maybe we have to exert more effort in planting more trees rather than bashing SM and the politicians. Its always been a conspiracy.

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