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.


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.


Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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

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Eman Paelmo

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.


damn stupid enviroMENTALists!


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…


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.

Hyden Toro_pu44

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
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 »

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.

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 »

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

We the people of Baguio
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.


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!


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

sm employee

….all speculations.


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…

Eugenio Lopez
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 »
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
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 »

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


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

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