Today marks another milestone year for our beloved city. All of 110 years, that’s what Baguio is today, a full 100 and ten years since being founded on the first day of September, 1909. We have had ups and downs through the roller-coaster years — the painful birth years for about 30 years when much of the development activities took place, the 2nd World War years when Baguio went through the Japanese occupation and was later subjected to intensive bombing, the difficult rehabilitation years after the war ended, the recovery after normalcy years, and in recent times, the post-earthquake restoration years.
All through the years, Baguio’s stellar endearment to Filipinos — yes, you and I and the rest — has remained, faith kept us closer, and the dream to be in the dreamland that is Baguio stayed deeply embedded in the national consciousness. There is no doubt at all that as in years past, Baguio’s birthday will always be well-remembered, not just by us who reside, live in and work here, but even more so among compatriots, everyday Filipinos in fact, whose family dream has always been a once-in-a-lifetime sojourn into our midst. Lifetime memories, after all, have always been well-cherished and treasured and memorable Baguio will outrank any other place, any other time.
As a citizen, we have felt immense pride that life in Baguio is comparatively much better than living elsewhere. That tourists keep on visiting Baguio not just during Christmas, Panagbenga, and summertime, many of them on repeat visits, is a positive testament to how much they love being part of the Baguio even for quick heart-stopping thrills To those well-wishing us on this day onward, it would do well if they do take care of our environment, as much as we do. Fine, let’s enjoy the sights and sounds felt around, without having to dispose of trash just anywhere. Fine, let’s walk through our roads, opting to walk around, or use our public transport, and just leave motor vehicles behind as we travel from point to point. Getting around Baguio is a much more relishing experience.
Baguio’s Cinderella tale tells us to never give up in working together for a better Baguio. Shoulder to shoulder, we must remain committed, constantly striving, single-mindedly focusing on what unites, rather than divides us. No matter the odds, we just have to keep on working with, rather than against, each other, doing the best we can through the makaBaguio way — helpful, caring, compassionate.
To our chosen leaders, they whom we have trusted to manage our city well enough not just for the present, but even more so for the future, do keep faith with your solemn oath of service. Labors are not meant to be on a day-to-day undertaking. Like being in love, it needs constant nurturing, consistently done from moment to moment. Keep the fervor burning at all times, never unrelenting, never surrendering, never letting up and letting go.
To be sure, pitfalls are aplenty on the pathways, blocking your vision, hampering your moves, hindering your every act and deed. Pause and ponder for quick moments, but plod on, steadier than before, strengthened by an unshakeable belief that public service is a cause unyielding to momentary difficulties, fortified by a fervor unyielding to any passing breeze.
Yours is a calling nobler than any self-serving desire. Yours is a task better rewarded from the self-fulfillment that comes with every triumph, big or small. Yours are rewards compensatory to the sacrifice you put in, rewards that are unmeasured by monetary gains but more well-earned by the rising esteem from the people you serve. Yours is satisfaction gained by the peace that permeates your being.
To our fellow lovers of Baguio, they who have worn their badges of affection with honor through the years, keep faith in what we do, all for our city’s betterment. Fine, let’s be unerring in our advocacies, staying afloat even in times of turmoil, keep faith that in time, our goals are achieved. There is but one singular goal that animates us as we pursue our causes, unfazed by faltering happenstance, even by brickbats coming from nowhere. The cause remains undimmed and stays singular.
The task ahead looms larger than life, focusing as it does in nurturing the environment. Nurturing means precisely that, to take utmost care, to do things that will give our precious but dwindling environmental assets the personal, watchful, active and vigilant attention that is commanded by the times. We are where we are due to many, many years of collective neglect, both by the governing and the governed. That Baguio’s environment fell waylaid by the wasted years and decades is a travesty better viewed as a hard lesson learned. You and I have a ten-fold share in this travesty, not any one man’s or woman’s fault, not any one group or sector’s responsibility, but all of us.
The work of nurturing this pristine environment is a work cut out for us, precisely to put together what individually we can contribute in a shared mission to make our environment work for, rather than against, us. After all, this is the same environment which serves as our lifeline, not just from our humble origins, our strenuous beginnings, but right into the very future of shared peace, prosperity, and abundance for all.
Happy Birthday Baguio!