Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Just a couple of updates (21 April 2012; I know, I know, these should have been up earlier.): The Temporary Environmental Protection Order issued to SM has been extended until the case against them is resolved (13 April 2012)Suddenly, there is talk of soil erosion happening on Luneta Hill and that constructing a seven-storey building and a parking lot will help address it (18 April 2012). Eh? How convenient. One of the earliest environmental lessons we are taught is that the presence of vegetation reduces erosion.


The community is in an uproar about the 182 trees SM City Baguio is cutting down (What's all this crap about earthballing?) to make room for additional parking space. The most recent piece of news is SM refuses to comply with a court order demanding it cease its midnight felling. The idea of losing those trees just for parking sickens me. I love Baguio. I love its trees. God knows I love the environment. But I have been feeling torn about the protests. I think we're barking up the wrong tree (ha-ha).

SM City Baguio is a shopping mall. Their primary objective is to make money. When fulfilling their "social/ environmental responsibility," they simply push the use of green bags and hang up poster boards about "protecting the environment." I'm sorry to say this, but that's all we can really expect from them. SM is a money-making enterprise, not a conservation initiative. Henry Sy is a businessman, not a public servant. So, I don't think the "Shame on you, SM" argument is going to fly with me. Who are we kidding?

We've all spent years going to SM Baguio. We've shopped there, eaten there, seen movies there. I'm a sucker for their Bills Payment Center. They've made life a hell of a lot easier. We overlooked the fact that before there was SM, there happened to be a greenspace on Luneta Hill. A true greenspace with aesthetic and ecological value. And I'll tell you, there were a lot more than 182 trees. But we went to SM anyway. Our memories are so short. Now it's happening again, we're so quick to turn on The Big Bad Corporation. We've lapped up the convenience of having a mall, and suddenly we're all so indignant about 182 trees.

What did we expect, honestly? We were screwed the moment SM Development was allowed into the City. We lost those trees the moment esteemed members of the city council had their pockets lined with Big Bad Corporation dough. Bayad na eh. Matagal na. It pisses me off that the failings of those actually responsible for the ecological well-being of this City are only an afterthought in this battle for the trees. Members of the local government, these so-called public servants, have betrayed us time and time again. Oh sure, there have been different faces, but it's the same inadequate administration. They allowed SM to colonize our City, among other lamentable crimes. These supposed leaders opened their legs for commercialism, and have been whoring away Baguio's soul since. They condone the actions of SM now, and are getting away with it. Development in our City has been going in the wrong direction for a long time.

A couple of weeks ago, this article appeared in the Baguio Midland Courier and sent me off the rails. A little bit from that piece:

"The city council committee on health, sanitation, and environment stated that it is not the proper body to act on the demand of concerned groups opposed to the project for the council to support their cause."

So who exactly, if not a committee for the environment, should have been keeping an eye on the trees?

In Camp John Hay, even more widespread clearing of trees has been happening under our noses. These pine trees are getting cut down to accommodate the construction of hotels and townhouses people from Baguio can't afford themselves. The pine cover in the trails are thinning out while the area for golf courses appears to be increasing. Important fern and shrub species are getting cleared with no thought as to how this might affect the ecosystem. Camp John Hay is an urban greenspace, if there ever was one. It is a habitat, provides clean air, and improves the climate. It is one of the few remaining areas near the center with a pine forest. Who is looking out for the trees and the plants there? The people of Baguio must fight for ALL of the trees.

The 182 have become famous. But if you ask me, it shouldn't have gotten to a point where we could already count the trees.

(Also, while we're at it, bakit kasi kailangan ng additional parking sa SM? Dahil marami na masyadong kotse at taxi sa Baguio. Nakakapikon.)

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