Back to the Future


Now that the people have made known their vote, in so resounding and resonating a way, it’s time to solidify the environmental agenda that our winning leaders have anchored their campaign on. Indeed, all aspirants have stood for something that will push the environment, long besieged and beleaguered, forward. It’s gladdening to hear them pontificate on this critical need, considering how environmental issues have in fact beset Baguio since way way back.

To reiterate: what can we do, individually and collectively, to accord environmental concerns the seriousness of purpose they have long deserve, for which time-bound plans of solutions and actions can be forged early on? No doubt that we want the future ahead be well-secured, well enough for our children and theirs to have something precious to enjoy, to cherish, and to hand over to generations next.

Fine, they’ve all been talking of what’s good and desirable for our environment. But, there’s only one chosen leader, around whom our people have cast their lot for the next three years. Are his election rivals on the same page with him, as regards the natural environment that has served as the very lifeline, our very own, from its glorious beginnings all the way down the road to shared progress?

It’s about time they do, else we’d expect the usual brickbats along the way, the usual pitfalls that make the dispirited too busy just fending these off. Even this early, there’s need to stay grounded, even as we strive reaching for the stars. Having chosen our own anointed, the least we can do is to stand fast on the choices we have made, even as we keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

Let the vociferous, even malicious campaign rhetoric be thrashed in history’s dustbin. Enough of the shrill voices filling the airwaves, sowing further intrigue, disseminating planted propaganda just meant to discredit the winners. Enough is enough.

It’s sad how trollers, obviously let loose on the social networks, paid hacks actually, can in conscience do anything vile to confuse our people. As we are writing this piece, on a Friday afternoon, word is out that a FAKE NEWS of a so-called victory party is being held on such-and-such a date. Ergo, if this winner’s horde of campaign supporters are misled into going to the designated place, so sorry, change of plans? Ganern lang?

We had hoped that when the ringing vote came in, giving our chosen leader the clear-as-day mandate, things would revert back to the sanity of it all. His message of thanks throbs in humility and reconciliation, to quote him, “let the animosities of the campaign remain as mere words exchanged between friends who were simply contenders sharing the same noble goal.”

Baguio’s natural environment deserves being up there in our priority concerns. Far too much has empty talk, no action has dominated much of the years that have wastefully passed. It’s time we roll out the plan, the strategies, the tactics, the timelines, the cost. It’s time to put in the doables within a specific schedule.

It is reassuring that in the days ensuing from Election Day, our chosen leader gave everyone a glimpse into his kind of leadership and a bare-knuckle look-see into his frame of thinking. In a nutshell, he commits himself to an agenda of action-marked environmental projects running across basic needs: clean air, safe adequate water, sewage treatment facilities to bolster our existing single plant, and a final solution to our trash woes.

Since way back when, water lack has been a foremost issue, as local water authorities have grappled for years in battling the growing deficit. The city’s aquifers have languished far too long to generate more of it, no doubt resulting from less and less trees nestling our forest cover.

Watersheds well-placed in many sites continue to be besieged by unwanted, but uncontrolled intrusions by the homeless in us just wanting to have a piece of Baguio property to their name, even if based on mere factual circumstance. An honest-to-goodness tree-planting (pine tree, bamboo, other fast-growing species) done the whole year round of ever-vigilant nurturing should be endeavored, community-wide but concentrated on our watershed sites.

Of late, Baguio’s fresh air has come down to perilous levels, given the daily bombardment of toxic fumes from dirty energy-fueled motorized conveyances. Respiratory ailments have since afflicted the vulnerable among us, mostly the elderlies and the very young, exposed as they had been to the poisonous air. Strolling right in the heart of the city’s downtown area has in fact become a punishment, not because of the up-and-down trod, but mostly due to the bad air besieging the walkways, ejected uncontrollably by diesel-run vehicles on non-stop waiting gears.

Mayor-elect Benjie Magalong: You have inspired us so much that expectations are running high and hopes are burning our people up. Volunteers of varying persuasions and skills are enlisting up like there’s no tomorrow. Those of us who have loved Baguio dearly enough can do no less than to be counted up front, pro bono, purely on good faith, and just some fruits to get us by come tree-planting and tree-caring time.

Time’s up for us. We know we have to just do what is right. At stake is the future ahead. Really, it’s back to the future, even as we must do now what we have learned from yesteryears.