|"I think that I shall never see, a billboard lovely as a tree.... Indeed, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all!" [A tree-conservation billboard and Haina Fiadchongan at Camp John Hay]|
|"How many more mornings, how many more evenings, will have to go... before the fogs kiss Baguio's pine trees adieu?" [Left-Right: Isinay Bird, Mrs. Delia Castro, Mrs. Leony Rillera (formerly of Aritao), Mr. Charlie Rillera]|
ONE DOESN'T have to be an ecologist to note that something bad is happening to Baguio’s natural environment these days.
A tour around the city’s immediate confines is enough to give you the feeling that it won’t be long, it won’t take too long now, before the glory and the grandeur that Baguio has been basking in for many years now will all come to end.
Doomsday? No, sir! But the way things are going with the city’s general landscape, we may yet wake up one smoggy day to see something close to tragedy, something that may mean goodbye to all the things we love, all the things we cherish, all the things we uphold, all the things we dream in this highland paradise – beauty, peace, happiness, love, life.
The fact is, Baguio’s ecosystem is going to rot. It is deteriorating at a clip obviously faster than we make effort to re-evaluate and redirect our material values, attitudes, and beliefs.
Witness the rapid multiplication of buildings in the city proper. Viewed from a point like Dominican Hill, the steel-and-concrete jungle the edifices form conjures images of jam-packed rats and screaming baboons. All you get to see are rooftops elbowing one another for dear space.
One day, you would catch a glimpse of a wooded nook on one side of a valley. It is so tempting you decide to take another lingering look some other sunny day – and what do you find next but the whole thing scraped off in exchange for a tumble-down shack!
There should be no question about people putting up houses in impossible ground or in erstwhile scenic places, for such malady is a symptom of a deeper disorder, they say. But somehow, in everybody’s frantic desire to build a home, the bigger and more important home that is Baguio becomes less and less of a home.
|Morning walkers in tree-rich roads of Baguio marvel at newly constructed houses for sale near the Baguio Country Club|
Except for the stands along the road to Loakan Airport, we know of no other place within Baguio that sports pines in the pink of health. Not even in the Pacdal area, where government forest stewards are, and where most of the pine seedlings used in Benguet are raised. All the other trees found elsewhere are likely the last that we will be able to see.
At Wright Park, where the soil is considerably in better shape than that of malnourished Burnham, we tried once to look for pine wildlings. We wanted to at least disprove our notion that park managers in the city don’t care to even think of the word regeneration, tree-wise, that is.
We see a glint of hope, nevertheless, in the tree-planting. Knowing that people prefer to do other things though, we are tempted for now to make the proposition that it is all right not to plant trees (in Baguio, that is) so long as we let the standing ones multiply freely, and so long as we don’t destroy the few leftovers we see waging a desperate bid for survival in our over-materialist society.
The pine trees are just a part of a bigger whole, of course. Though very vital, the trees (and the grasses and the flowers) are just one component of Baguio’s ecosystem. One other component perhaps the most important (from the viewpoint of man) but not necessarily indispensable (from the viewpoint of nature), is the social component.