Why Can’t SM Baguio Bashers See The Bigger Environmental Sin

On TV Patrol, I saw and heard Ka Noli De Castro introduce and SET THE TONE on a report about the cutting of SM Baguio’s 60 trees this way:

“Pinutol na ang anim na pung puno sa Luneta Hill dahil sa itatayong seven storey sky park ng isang mall sa Baguio City. Ito’y kahit na nasa bansa si Pope Francis na isang environmental advocate, nagpaparol is Diane Rivera…”

(Translation: Sixty trees have been cut at Luneta Hill because of the planned construction of a seven story sky park of mall in Baguio City. This is despite the country being visited by Pope Francis, who is an environmental advocate.”

The second sentence just doesn’t make sense, at least to me. What does Pope Francis have to do with the cutting of 60 trees in Baguio city? Did Pope Francis prohibit the cutting of the trees in Luneta Hill in Baguio City?

steve carrellI am not faulting Ka Noli for what he said because I presume that he merely read the script that was given to him and was not in anyway in directly in charge of seeing to it that any of scripts make any sense. This incoherency generally happens when someone, the scriptwriter presumably, tries to make a connection between two unconnected events in one sentence. In this case, the Popes visit and the felling of 60 trees in Baguio City.

Then again, it occurs to me that maybe the scriptwriter was trying to use the jarring incoherence to get people’s attention and hook them into watching the rest of the story. Maybe.

Having watched the TV news story, I discovered that perhaps the very meat or seeming justification for the way the story was introduced was one interview of a kid who said, “Pinakamalaking irony nga po ang pagpunta ni Pope Francis sa MOA arena and SM welcomed him, then knowing that Pope Francis will have an advocacy to preserve and protect the environment.” (English translation: “The biggest irony in Pope Francis is that Pope Francis visited the MOA Arena and SM welcomed him, then knowing that Pope Francis will have an advocacy to preserve and protect the environment.”)

pope frances ust 2015Having been a TV news producer and TV News writer for years, I would have introduced the story with the Court of Appeals decision which allowed the cutting of the trees and then put in the interviews of the people who are presumably against the tree cutting.

But, of course, I recognize that the point that the producers and script writers of TV Patrol wanted to make was that SM went against Pope Francis’ admonition to take care and protect the environment.

Before I go ahead and point out the bigger environmental problem that is getting buried by the “outrage” against the cutting of 60 trees on Luneta Hill, let’s take up what did Pope Francis said about taking care of the environment.

It was in his speech in UST that the Pope pointed out three key areas where people could make contributions to the life of the country, caring for the environment is the second key…

“A second key area where you are called to make a contribution is in showing concern for the environment. This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ! Respect for the environment means more than simply using cleaner products or recycling what we use. These are important aspects, but not enough. We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person. Men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, and given dominion over creation (cf. Gen 1:26-28). As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”

Does this apply ONLY to SM Baguio? Of course not and I won’t say anymore to explain why because the message is already clear.

Baguio-today2However, when it comes to showing concern for the environment, we have to make a comparison between SM Baguio City and the rest of Baguio. The only way you can do that is to have a bird’s eye view of what Baguio looks like and you can see that from the picture on the right.

Yes, believe it or not, you can’t even see SM Baguio in the see of other buildings and houses.

The hills that one could see from session road used to be filled with pine trees and now, it’s full of houses.

Here’s an old picture of Session Road, see the trees in the hills?

old session road

Here’s what the view from the top of Session Road looks like now.

why baguio is dying

One has to wonder how the once forested hills surrounding Baguio City turned into what looks like a Favela.

Favela

Here’s what Grace, a member of the Baguio community, has to say about that  “It’s easy to grab lands in Baguio, magtayo ka lang ng bahay mo kahit saan at sabihin mong ancestral claimant ka eh puwede na, with the blessing of course of Apo dios mayor domogan.” (English translation. “It’s easy to grab land in Baguio, just build a house anywhere and claim that you are an ancestral claimant, it’ll be allowed, with the blessing of Elder Lord Mayor Domogan.”)

Given the “free for all” edict on ancestral land claims that seems to prevail in Baguio City, one wonders if the thousands of houses and buildings built on that land are up to engineering and environmental standards? I have a feeling we will all find out if a big enough earthquake rocks Baguio City.

Another question on my mind is, did those people who cut the trees and built houses as well as buildings there replace the trees they cut? I would presume that they didn’t.

Expansion of vegetable farm in STo. Tomas Watershed
Expansion of vegetable farm in STo. Tomas Watershed

And lastly, as I’ve mentioned in my recent post on Baguio’s Treeliling Rampagers, why aren’t the people up in Baguio City more concerned about the killing of 800 trees in the Sto. Tomas watershed allegedly by Congressman Nicasio Aliping? Why aren’t the people in Baguio more concerned about the 80 hectares of forest lost in Benguet every year because of forest fires (kaingin/slash and burn farming), illegal logging, and land conversion?

Is it because the people protesting over the cutting of 60 trees are not really concerned about the environment?

Is it because of politics?

Parts of Mt. Kabuyao in Tuba, Benguet (just above Baguio) where forest in being converted into vegetable farms.
Parts of Mt. Kabuyao in Tuba, Benguet (just above Baguio) where forest in being converted into vegetable farms.

Francis, another Baguio resident says, “(PS182 lawyer) Attorney Cheryl Yangot’s husband is a known ally of the Congressman (Aliping) – they are the so-called OTHER wing of the local Liberal Party here in Baguio.”

In ending this already long article, not the last one, I’d like to tell you the reason why SM Baguio Bashers can’t see the larger environmental damage and it is actually the Bible that tells what it is…

Mathew 7, 4-5…

“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

print

Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

Leave a Reply

75 Comments on "Why Can’t SM Baguio Bashers See The Bigger Environmental Sin"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Eman Paelmo
Guest

As with the rest of the country, we are being given selected parts of a whole. Like pointing out the stain on a favorite shirt while the rest is damaged by moths.
People watch a soap opera on tv that features a strawberry and vegetable farm, yet when I commented ” that place will soon crumble for the lack of trees” and yet the people watching (yes they are my relatives) looked at me with an eveil eye and told me I was overly pessimistic.

ritchie
Guest

damn stupid enviroMENTALists!

Budoy
Guest

I’m very surprised this happens in our own turf while Filipino planning, environmental, engineering and construction companies are sought after abroad for their ability to produce sustainable development…

mikee
Guest

hello, yung second picture mo na sabe mo “Here’s what the view from the top of Session Road looks like now”, hinde po yan Session Road. Lower Magsaysay Road po iyan going to La Trinidad. Can’t tell also if the first picture is accurate as well. Anyhow, good post.

kaycee
Guest

Right! Cause I can see that the church is not cathedral but resurection(I dont really know the name. Sorry. But it is how we call the church. Hehe)

bing
Guest

kasi hindi naman siya taga Baguio isunga haan na ammo.. sao lang nga sao ..

astro
Guest

agpayso ta kunam. haan na ammo ibagbaga na. nu dagiti babbalay ti Quirino Hill ken Quezon Hill ti ibagbaga na, nabayagen nga naipatakder dagidyay sakbay pay timmakder ta SM. LOL.

boy
Guest

basahin mo nga muna kc nakasulat bago magcomment .. kinompare nya lng ung mga naputol na puno sa sm at mga naputol na puno sa barangay na un..
d ka marunong magbasa ng english? comment ng comment d namn pla alm magbasa

sha
Guest

@boy ang point nila dito ay yong view, which was claimed by the author as from the top of Session Road which was in actual taken along Magsaysay Road. I think they have even read and comprehended it better than you do. Besides, whenever you make a blog, accuracy is a must. And English? Don’t challenge the Cordillerans, mind you!

april
Guest

pero we can’t also deny the fact na kung sino ang hindi nakaka alam at nakatira sa Baguio, sila pa ang mga taong aware sa mga ganitong bagay. Hindi man sila native ng Baguio City, but they were concern with the environment and the consequences it can give to you. Sao a nga sao ngem adda met napanan na jay imbaga na. Kusto ak met lang kadi? gayyem?

Hyden Toro_pu44
Guest

Trees are very important in our environment. They clean our air…they protect the land from erosion, landslides, etc…

These people are destroying the environment. Soon there will be more landslides and floods…

Johnny Saint
Guest
Paul, “I am not faulting Ka Noli for what he said because I presume that he merely read the script that was given to him and was not in anyway in directly in charge of seeing to it that any of scripts make any sense.” Before he left ABS-CBN to run for Vice President of the Republic, Noli de Castro was VICE PRESIDENT of ABS-CBN and dzMM. He was head of production on their flagship evening news program, ‘TV Patrol.’ This means that he would be involved not only as an executive, but also in the daily operations and production… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

This “payola” of media, we former media workers know. Heck, even Lee Kuan Yew knew and even wrote about it.

Nix
Guest

good write up. BUT…. That picture you showed saying top of Session Road. That is Magsaysay Avenue going to the direction of Bokawkan rd. and La Trinidad. Check your picture sources.

paula
Guest
The difference is, while those houses on the mountains were built over the centuries and while forests were converted to farms, it was supposedly for the benefit of a number of people, their families and their future families. Whereas, the conversion of the forest land in SM shall benefit only SM. Of course it will benefit people in the sense that there will be parking spaces, but people can’t live in parking spaces nor harvest food in it. Unfortunately, SM is also located at a premiere spot in Session Road that houses the last of the pine trees that can… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

I wonder though. People may defend, “let us cut down the trees, we need the vegetables farms, we can’t eat trees.” Only problem is, when the landslides happen.

paula
Guest

I, too, wonder at the Banaue rice terraces and such other kinds in the Cordilleras.

arman
Guest

I wonder, the people who claims to be environmentalist do not make “noise” on those illegal kaingins that are cutting thousands of trees in mt. santo tomas?

paula
Guest

arman, it may be because there is not a real organization of so-called environmentalists. We all have our views on environment but not one can really make noise on every environmental violation there is, unless environmentalism is that person’s main, primary advocacy and source of living.

MidwayHaven
Guest

The main problem here is that people blame SM too much, while putting too little blame on countless people who continue to buy land in Baguio, therefore turning the city into a sprawl. These landowners can simply invoke “PRIVATE PROPERTY” when they cut their trees, which is exactly what SM did. So why isn’t anyone who’s “environmentally aware” protesting against private landowners who have destroyed Baguio more?

Meanwhile, these pop “environmentalists” were almost absent when a congressman bulldozed 800 trees on PUBLIC LAND.

One more thing: if DENR gave a permit, then “stealth” doesn’t really matter anymore, does it?

TheRepublic
Guest
1. You are assuming that private land owners simply cut trees whenever they want as long as they ask for a permit from DENR. You are assuming that the people don’t care. The fact is, asking for a permit to cut trees, even in private properties, is a very long and arduous process. This begs the question, why is it that SM was able to acquire a permit so fast given that they are cutting significantly more trees (in the central business district) compared to private land owners who would only need to cut one to five trees (in an… Read more »
astro
Guest
Well said. Though the author raised some valid points, he seems to be pulling some assertions out of his ass. He seemed to be over his head when he said the people of Baguio did not care when Aliping took down those trees in Cabuyao. He seemed to write this to take the blame out from SM and divert it elsewhere (to the “bigger” problems), which is wrong. Thing is, we should not take our sights from the SM just to put our eyes in other issues. All acts inimical to our environment are deplorable, regardless of who performs them… Read more »
TheRepublic
Guest

Well said astro.

MidwayHaven
Guest
Okay, fair enough. But with regards to focusing on SM it becomes the responsibility of Baguio’s electorate to make sure that they try their best to focus on ALL environmental issues, not just the ones which would gain the most media mileage as can be seen now. In fact, it seems that only one person (Grace Bandoy) is keeping tabs on the Aliping case over Sto. Tomas, and she’s not even part of Save 182. I also have it on good info that a “Call for Sobriety” from Aliping about his case was actually signed by members of Save 182… Read more »
TheRepublic
Guest
First, MidwayHaven, of course people should not focus only on envi issues that get the most media mileage. That’s a given. BUT, it’s not exclusive to Baguio alone. This is global phenomena, where people tend to be drawn to more hyped up stories. I am saying this because the article above is more outrageous than the “pop environmentalist” movement circulating now. Just because many people are only there during high profile envi cases does not make them insignificant. This only shows that with a better information dissemination protocol, more people would actually realize the gravity of environmental situations. Second, environmentalism… Read more »
Diablo
Guest

INDEED!

The difference is, while those houses on the mountains were built over the centuries and while forests were converted to farms, it was supposedly for the benefit of a number of people, their families and their future families. Whereas, the conversion of the forest land in SM shall benefit only SM. Of course it will benefit people in the sense that there will be parking spaces, but people can’t live in parking spaces nor harvest food in it.

Kimi
Guest
But you do have to agree that there is an environmental crisis when there is an overcrowding of houses in a particular location right ? The point is, whether it is in Quirino Hill, Quezon Hill, Luneta Hill or any other Hill in Baguio, the residents have to be liable for their immediate surroundings.. Is cutting a tree to put up your house any different when they cut trees to put up a mall ? Can we really turn our heads and just say, “ket, maisa lng met ? ikumpara mo ah it daduma…” As what was said, the issue… Read more »
TheRepublic
Guest
Hi Kimi, yes I agree that an environmental crisis is at hand, especially since the overcrowded mountainsides continue to expand. You said: “Is cutting a tree to put up your house any different when they cut trees to put up a mall ? Can we really turn our heads and just say, “ket, maisa lng met ? ikumpara mo ah it daduma…” As what was said, the issue is not only SM.” This is exactly the idea that I want to clarify. Because people assume that just because someone is involved in the anti-SM cutting trees, they immediately think that… Read more »
Kimi
Guest

Yes, but let’s be fair to the issues. I was also intrigued by the theory of “alliance” and that may well be a very good reason why it’s always SM. And I just read the judicial side of the issue and I couldn’t believe that the expert witness would say that the cutting of the trees would not have any impact on the ecological balance of the city. From my point of view, it’s weird that a “tree expert” would say that. In a way, it’s very demoralizing.

TheRepublic
Guest

Hi Kimi. I totally agree. There’s more to the story. I hope we could get all the facts down so that we can get over with this SM issue and move to more pressing ones.

meow
Guest

Just so you guys know, that’s not the latest photo of Session road 😀 sa Magsaysay po iyan harhar

We the people of Baguio
Guest
We the people of Baguio

I like the Article, Apparently the 5th picture captioned “Here’s what the view from the top of Session Road looks like now. ” Kindly Check your picture sources, The Photo is misleading.

T.C.
Guest

The people of Baguio know that you lack evidences to support your supposed facts, you don’t even know the places your talking about. About congressman Aliping desecrating our water reserves, if you’ve done your research properly you would know that cases has been filed against him, and the people has asked for his suspension. Its not about the bigger picture its about the bigger environmental sin, its about doing wrong to our beloved city!

Tarantado
Guest

I would like to inform you that the incident regarding Aliping and SM were both protested. It just so happened that the trees were cut in the middle of the night when our dead pope visited Philippines.
Mali po ang nakalagay sa caption ng mga pictures mo. Hndi po yun sa session road. At yung picture na expansion ng vegetable farms eh isa yun mismo sa inararo daw ni aliping.
You should have investigated more to prove your facts. Thank you

MidwayHaven
Guest

If you want a more detailed account of why the farmers of Kabuyao are also to blame for deforestation, then click this link (which also contains research):

http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2014/06/organic-farms-and-eco-parks-are-ruining-baguios-mountainsides/

Also, last time I checked the pope was still alive.

sm employee
Guest

….all speculations.

MidwayHaven
Guest

Care to explain further, sm employee?

Because neither your company nor your “environmental” opponents are convincing me at the moment. You’re both turning out to be losers in this debate.

TheRepublic
Guest

LOL!

monakh
Guest

totally missing the BIG picture

stressing about where the picture was taken when the point is comparing how the environment used to look like then compared to how it looks like now…
geeez!!!

Eugenio Lopez
Guest
All those corporations, and most especially those Politicians who are allowing (giving permits) the CUTTING OF TREES in Baguio should be held liable, by all means. But what DISTURBS me the most in your article and even your previous article is that you DON’T find the SM Group responsible, and even AT FAULT, in their greedy move of mall expansion by cutting of trees. You are right by painting the bigger picture, and I’m hoping the Residents of Baguio will make a move to address these environmental issues and DEMAND MORE from their local government in terms of taking care… Read more »
domo
Guest

You’re missing the whole point you tree fucker. It’s not that the author is being pro-sm. It’s the hypocrisy of “environmentalists” like yourself who already smothered the natural surroundings ever since it was urbanized too much.

Aileen pond
Guest

Correct!

LA702
Guest
In 1986 Hollywood megastar Clint Eastwood won a landslide election for mayor of Carmel, a sleepy town with 4,000 population off the coast of northern California. Eastwood proposed modernization, tourism, new buildings, malls and jobs. His proposal meant more people moving to Carmel, traffic, increased taxes, more garbage and possible water shortage. In Eastwood’s first act as new mayor he faced serious opposition and received death threats he decided to quit after serving two years in office. I’m not advocating natives of Baguio to kill their mayor or burn SM or drive away non-Baguio residents who have taken spaces to… Read more »
Rogelio Feir
Guest
I was born in Baguio but grew up in Manila. During my younger days, i always go up to Baguio and stay with my cousins who had a house at Camdas Subdivision a few houses away from the house of former Mayor Lardizabal. I really love Baguio. I close my eyes on nearing Camp 1 at Kennon Road and i can tell we are nearing Baguio because i can smell the pines. Now that i am a senior citizen and whenever i go up to Baguio i can still tell if Baguio is already near, I CAN SMELL THE SMOKE… Read more »
solbaktol
Guest

SM bought the area at such a cheap price. Imagine -.00 per square meter? With the promise of creating JOBS FOR THE PEOPLE OF BAGUIO. Then, here you are, saying bashers cannot see the bigger environmental sin? I do not blame you for not knowing some history about this issue. Sometimes, it’s better to keep an idea rather than to share it

Greg
Guest

Baguio road is now a huge parking lot.
Parking area is a big business opportunity. Simple. Profit is a big thing. It has pros and cons. Whatever it is, we also need to think about sustainable development. 🙂

Aileen pond
Guest

Galit galitan kayo eh ganun din pupunta din naman kayo ng sm to shop and kikipark lols