Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Here Are The Winners Of The Writing Contest Organized By Frangeli House

In the middle of last year, Frangeli House (a bed and breakfast and events place in Baguio City) announced an essay-writing competition with the theme Re-Imagining The City Of Baguio. The winners have been chosen and they are Christine Grace Catindig and Jason Robert Lobaton, both are students of the University of the Philippines (Baguio).

Catindig wrote a piece she titled Baguio Is The Place To Be (By The Coward Turned Into Champion). Lobaton's piece is titled Baguio City: Mountain Home.

Below is the full essay by Catindig. For Lobaton's essay, click here.

Baguio Is The Place To Be (By The Coward Turned Into Champion)
by Christine Grace Catindig

Baguio city is one of the best iconic destinations in the Philippines. Who would not want to live in this extraordinary place? Who would want to miss out on the cool relaxing weather, foggy mornings, panoramic views and verdant hillocks Baguio offers? It is truly one of the most outstanding cities in the country; no one in the right mind would dare to say otherwise for no one could deny the evident beauty of this place. It is gifted with breathtaking sceneries with majestic landscapes, lush vegetation and sweet scents of the ever-so-famous Pine trees which it has been famously known for.

The City of Pines has also been labelled as the summer capital of the Philippines back in 1909 for it is a tourist spot that attracts people from all places on earth to visit it because of its wide open spaces, chilly weather, scenic attractions, tourist-friendly people and resort-like environment. Local and foreign tourists go here to have fun, take a break, explore nature and learn more about the small city with a massive reputation. Some of them even reside in this city because of its ideal environment. It is also known as a Convention city because it has many conference halls and convention centers that accommodate thousands of people during special occasions.

Although Baguio is popularly known for all these things, there is still more to it than what most people think. The City of Baguio has rich history as well and it has played a great role in the history of the country for it is the place where the Japanese war began and ended. Baguio city was the first place in the Philippines that was attacked by the Japanese. On the 8th of December 1941 several Japanese aircrafts bombed Camp John Hay but by 1945, the Japanese surrendered. General Yamashita signed the terms of surrender at Camp John Hay, the same place they have used as headquarters. After this, the Philippines was granted independence.

When it comes to the Philippine culture, Baguio is of great significance as well. It is not an unknown fact that what makes the city of Baguio stand out from the rest of the cities in the country is its rich blend of tribal Filipino culture and Western culture. These have a great impact not just to Baguio itself but to the entire Philippine culture. As most people know, every culture that exists has its own identical tapestry of traditions, values and system that are weaved to form a unique piece of identification. The language, food, music, woven cloths, wood carvings, local traditions, celebrations and customs existing in the City of Pines all reflects how rich the cultural heritage in Baguio is and all of these things contribute to the Philippine culture. More importantly, how indigenous people are prioritized here in Baguio unlike in other places in the country shows how well the culture here is and that impacts the Philippine culture in general.

In Baguio, the indigenous groups aren’t discriminated especially when it comes to their rights as Filipinos and in their respective ancestral domains. Also, no matter how many people migrate in the city, the languages of the ethnic and cultural groups here are maintained and preserved and this results to a preserved cultural heritage. There is no suppression in the language used by the minority groups, they can freely express their unique world through their distinct language and in Baguio their ethnic languages are kept alive. The music in the City of Pines is not only that of the natives, it has been also influenced by the Americans. The music in this place develops vigorously. Artists perform songs in different genres when they visit here and introduce new sounds to the citizens of Baguio. During festivals and special occasions, performers from Baguio let others experience the diverse world of music existing in this city.

However Baguio city is not a perfect place. Truth be told, it also has its own problems as a city. There are three main problems that are very evident to almost everyone in Baguio and these are vandalism, littering and architectural construction and design. These three greatly affect the great city of Baguio.

Vandalism is seen in almost every building, wall, post and rest room in the city which is very disappointing because Baguio is an outstanding place mainly because of its favourable weather and wonderful environment but the vandals spray painted all over the public areas affect the reputation of the city. To make things worse, there are vandals as well in private properties. Vandalism should be seen more than as a bad habit because it’s a form of destruction of anything beautiful or respectable. Undisciplined individuals commit property destruction through vandalism but they don’t see the weight of this wrong behaviour. Whether they want to express themselves through protest or not, they should learn that vandalism is not the answer. There are two roots in this vandalism problem. First, the individuals who commit such drastic activity might not be aware of the consequences of their actions that is why they use vandalism as a form of expression. Second, they want to do something that go against the rules to challenge those who are in authority. It is a way for them to show that no one can command them and no one can tell them what to do and what not.

Littering is also a problem in Baguio. People, whether young or old, often throw their garbage wherever they please. It is very rare to find those youngsters who hold onto their trash until they find the proper bin to throw it into. In streets, schools and public areas trashes of all forms and sizes can be seen and this is a problem that is hard to overcome unless everyone will cooperate. This causes pollution and most people are not even aware that it is bad for the environment. The root of this problem is simple but hard to overcome by many. It is ignorance. Many people are ignorant of what might happen if they continue this habit of throwing their trashes along sidewalks, empty lots and in public areas. Litters should not be seen as just waste materials that do not really matter but rather, waste materials that could actually waste our natural resources and the beauty of our surroundings. The garbage problem of Baguio is getting worse because there are plastics everywhere. Limiting the use of plastics will definitely contribute to the betterment of the city and its garbage problem.

The architectural construction and design is also a big challenge being faced by the citizens of Baguio. There are a lot of magnificent places in this marvellous city but it is not enough to have parks, gardens and fancy hotels to make Baguio the best that it can be. Other infrastructures can either enhance or destroy the good impression other people may already have made of Baguio. Not all the buildings in Baguio are clean and pleasant in the eyes. That affects the tourists’ impression of this place. Some lack displays and engaging designs unlike those which are visited by many. Also, how many times have you tripped while walking in the curbs of the city? Most of the floor tiles on sidewalks and other public areas like streets, parks and rest rooms have already been dismantled and these tiles that already rose from the ground cause people to trip and get hurt. Instead of enjoying their walk, they always have to be careful in every step for there are many imperfections on the areas where they walk on.

Baguio is envisioned to be this paradise-like place where people could relax and escape from their same old routines but it is not enough to think of ways to improve the city because what may seem as the most brilliant vision of today may be tomorrow’s biggest flaw. That is why upon having a vision, one should consider attainability and practicality. Baguio city growing economically is one of the greatest visions anyone could ever have of it for this vision can never be downgraded. To grow economically as a city is something that will positively affect each and every citizen of Baguio. However, how can this be achieved?

Simple, through health care, environment protection, affordable and safe shelter for the students, livelihood programs and housing, Baguio can develop its economy.

Health care is one of the most important components of a person’s life. It enables a person to improve his or her well-being. No one can argue with the truth that health is the best asset a person has. A systematized health care in Baguio will ensure the citizens’ capacity to perform well in order to become more productive than they already are. If they can perform with excellence in their chosen careers then that will surely promote growth among themselves as employees and will ensure continuous development for the companies they work for. First world country government officials all make sure that they can cater to the health needs of their subordinates because it contributes to the quality of life the people have. For the people in this city to be a part of its economic growth, they should first have the skill and strength to meet their goals and do well on their jobs. If a person is sick, he or she will not be able to develop his or her abilities and skills in any way. That is why everyone should yearn for a good health care system. Through the provision of more health facilities, medicines and equipments Baguio will not only promote the betterment of its citizens but rather its economic standing as well.

Baguio as a place where environmental protection and awareness is of main focus is one of the visions that should matter to each and everyone. Vandalism is forbidden and everyone should be aware of that. People should be keen observers of what other people are doing with the environment to identify those who are abusing their rights as free people of this country. There should be a freedom wall instead. This will allow people to voice their thoughts and use their graffiti for legal and pleasant activities. Littering should be solved by each member of the community by throwing their trash on the proper bins, recycling and participating in clean-up projects. Through these simple things the economy will improve because the environment had been taken care of. Although many people might consider this as a soft concern, in a way this will still sustain and generate growth, this will enable everyone to help with the tourism of Baguio.

Envisioning Baguio city as a place where students can find safe and affordable shelters where they can stay while they are studying is not a far-fetched and over reaching vision. In fact, it is very attainable. Baguio is dubbed as the Education Capital of the North and to achieve economic growth, the youth of today should be able to find places conducive to learning. Clean, safe and affordable shelters should be provided for the students. This will not only open investments for businesses in Baguio but it will also help the youth to thrive when it comes to academics and other activities that they have in school. Baguio has great schools but it could be further improved if the students here can study and focus well without worrying about their safety. Today, not all of the dormitories, apartments and rooms available for students’ use are safe, affordable and pleasant in the eyes. If there would be shelters that are conducive to learning then the youth will surely perform well in school and that will enable them to reach new heights and become the best that they can be. Aside from the business and investments, solely helping the students by providing shelters will promote economic growth as well because this vision is the key to Baguio’s success in the future for the youth is the future leaders, workers and professionals who will develop the city of Pines.

Livelihood programs for those who can’t provide from themselves and their families. Baguio as place where there are no beggars roaming the streets searching for leftovers and asking passers-by for money is one vision that everyone will surely like to be turned into reality. This may be hard to achieve but with vision comes willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish goals. Providing livelihood for those who need it would definitely be a I-Win-You-Win situation for everyone because this will help those who are poor and disabled to start anew while they help the city’s economy prosper. To strengthen the economy would require the provision of ladders of opportunity for those who are willing to work and change their lives. To fix the system would mean to change the old ways everyone had been used to. To keep the city’s workforce vibrant, it should be available for everyone and to make sure they are ready to handle it, they should undergo training programs.

The last vision would be Baguio as a place of good housing. Public housing will be beneficial to the low-wage earners of this city. This will also enable the government to provide affordable housing and improve the economic growth of the city. This will serve as an opportunity for the community to participate as a whole in a productive activity. Truly, housing is one of the finest investments that could ever be established in families and communities.

These are the visions that will lead Baguio City into becoming the best that it can be. These are the ways of how the quality of life and governance could be improved in the famous City of Pines. These are the things that the government and the residents in Baguio can aspire to achieve. All in all, the city of Baguio won’t be able to be the best unless everyone cooperates. Being proactive members of the society is the key to accomplishing goals bigger than anyone. Unless everyone is willing to be the change they want to see in the City of Pines then no one will be able to contribute something into society. All these things are possible through the use of the people’s skills, knowledge, values and most of all, by the Grace of God. This extraordinary place is a gift from the Lord that everyone needs to cherish, improve and develop. Baguio is the place to be.