Tomorrow is inauguration day for the multi-million peso BGH flyover. This magnificent piece of engineering cuts through a water table, threatens the survival of a park, and affects the peaceful surroundings of a convent, a monastery, a hospital, and a university. This is just one of the many plans to “develop” the City of Baguio.
We in the social sciences have a term for this: development aggression. Ramon Casiple defines “development aggression” as such:
“Development is development aggression when the people become the victims, not the beneficiaries; when the people are set aside in development planning, not partners in development; and when people are considered mere resources for profit oriented development, not the center of development.”
I am a young man from the City of Baguio: I have a lot at stake on the future of the City. In all my 22 years, I have known of no other place to call home but Baguio. For a while, my own childish naïveté took the better of me: I was a kid back then, and I thought that “development” can be measured by malls, overpasses, and arches. But then again, it’s not all that it seemed to be: this small city has three malls, a dozen overpasses, and twice as many welcome arches. The City Government has literally “concretized” its development plan for the City. The last straw was when Mayor Peter Rey Bautista laid out his plan to “develop” our parks: souvenir stalls in Mines View, a parking complex at Burnham Park, and turning the Botanical Garden into a “theme park.”
In case those other young people in City Hall – Mayor Bautista and Councilor Pinky Rondez, among others – didn’t notice, they are depriving everyone of a future. Not only have they deprived the street-sweepers at Burnham Park a source of livelihood by demanding high school diplomas, but they are depriving us young people of pride of place. The City is turning into a giant parking lot. My naïve childhood ideas have come true: Baguio looks more like Manila now.