The most recent word about SM Baguio City is that has revised its expansion plans and this will result in a lower number of pine trees affected. Apparently, just like the way they harked to Olivier Ochanine’s petition to save the Philamlife Theatre, SM seems to be showing that it is listening to and responding to its patrons’ sentiments.
Contrary to how a small group of people have tried to demonize SM, the mall and real estate giant is still very much like any other business in the sense that it must function within the bounds of the law and work to retain the good will of the communities where its properties are located. If at any instance SM had done anything flagrantly illegal or done anything to deliberately destroy the decades old good will it established with its shoppers, it would be extremely doubtful that it could have grown into a company that millions of Filipinos patronize every single day of the year.
SM Baguio City’s decision to revise its expansion plan so as to affect less pine trees was predictably lambasted by the likes of Calypso Alaia and lawyer Cheryl Daytec Yangot — the supposed force behind Project Save 182 or Boycott SM.
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After paring away all the superficiality of their “myopic environmentalism” and anti-mall culture, all the group really has to go on as a cause is the so-called environmental case they filed against SM Baguio City’s original expansion plan — which was rebuffed by the lower court and is now pending before the Court of Appeals.
Now here’s the thing, a lawyer friend says that SM Baguio City’s decision to revise its expansion plan may actually make the petition at the Court of Appeals moot since the subject of the petition — SM Baguio’s original expansion plan — no longer exists.
Of course, this won’t stop the Boycott SM Facebook group from passing the hat around and raise “donations” so they can file another case — perhaps so that they can sustain their cause and keep Daytec employed, visible, or somewhat in the limelight.
In the meantime, another friend who went up to Baguio City recently told me that SM Baguio was literally filled to the rafters with mall goers and as much as it pains me that people are losing sight of what being in Baguio City ought to be, the mess that the Philippine Summer Capital has become doesn’t leave people much choice.
Here are a number of things that every SM Mall gives to its patrons that every city in this country doesn’t give:
Clean, cool, well ordered, and lighted space. Where else can you have a respite from the heat, dirt, dinginess, and other blights you encounter walking on any city street in the Philippines?
Security. Notwithstanding all those urban legends that have been exposed as hoaxes and those sporadic ‘criminal incidents’ that have also happened in other malls, SM Malls are safer and more secure than places like… er… most other places in the Philippines.
Even the recent accident at the SM Mall of Asia where soggy gypsum boards from the ceiling of one of the mall’s over-hangs fell on an 11 year old boy proves just how SM provides its patrons ample security and assistance when needed. The mall’s security rushed to help the boy as soon as they were notified and applied first aid. After that, I was told that the boy was brought to a hospital where he was thoroughly checked and this included a CT Scan — of course, all fees and bills were taken care of by SM.
If such an incident happened in a place like Ermita or Malate or Escolta, do you think that boy would have gotten any sort of assistance? Most probably not.
There were other things I wanted to say here that would indicate that the Boycott SM Facebook Group — being moored precariously on a shallowly defined cause — is about to implode, but I think I’ll just wait for it to happen on its own.