Reluctantly bequeathed

>> Saturday, January 28, 2017

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- Who can recommend heritage sites other than those historically linked to the place? The proposal to make Malcolm Square and other places as heritage sites in the city is welcome but there are sensitive historical facts that have to be considered.
More than a year ago, the Baguio Heritage Foundation recommended that Malcolm Square be declared as a heritage site and have welcomed an ordinance recently proposed by councilor Elmer Datuin.   
But it is not as easy as passing an ordinance that heritage sites may be approved. Baguio’s central business district and its outer communities have to be considered as having been occupied by Ibaloys prior to the city charter. Baguio and portions of its surrounding towns in Benguet have never been public lands.
 I was tempted to discuss the topic here upon reading a newspaper article that mentioned about the city as having a rich history. And so, if rich history in relation to declaring heritage sites is what concerns the proponents, then it is required of them to look as far back prior to the city charter.
Before the Malcolm Square area became a stomping ground of sorts where people and traders rendezvoused, old stories had it that it was a camote and vegetable garden beside a creek that flowed down to La Trinidad.   
The other public places that may be proposed as heritage sites are the Teachers Camp compound and Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City High School, the City Hall, Session Road, the Baden Powell Hall and Gov. Pack Road, the UPCB area, Baguio General Hospital compound, the whole of Burnham Park, etc.
Surely, these places were occupied in any manner by early settlers but were unceremoniously uprooted when the Americans came. Under duress and with unwilling spirits, the early Ibaloy settlers bequeathed their lands and settlements to the new American government.     
It would be wise for the proponents to find out, for the sake of putting history in its proper place, who the occupants were before the American colonial government began selling these lands left and right to businessmen from Manila and the Visayas after 1909.
Thus, I think it would not hurt councilor Datuin, the city council and the BHF to look at the status of any of the proposed heritage sites before they became part of a charter city in 1909.
Relatively, councilor Art Alladiw broached the idea of an ordinance creating a body that will identify possible heritage sites, research and recommend such places for declaration as such. The organization’s composition may be patterned after the National Historical Commission.
In addition the body may be tasked to mark historic places in the city, build or rebuild important historic markers and shrines, manage historical events, assess historical data and documents, etc.
Declaring places as heritage sites in a way helps a city such as Baguio slow down its brand of development that has gone out of control. It provides the hiatus that is necessary in steering the city on a path that its people want to follow.
While enacting an ordinance is a shorter way to declaring Malcolm Square as one heritage site, maybe the fastest shortcut is to have the whole city proclaimed as such. But then, the whole process must go through a public consultation.
May I call the attention of Baguio OIC chief of police Senior Supt. Ramil Saculles regarding a temporary structure built with wood and GI sheets that is apparently being utilized as a notorious gambling den at Tabora Park.
It has been there since last year but despite its location which is a stone’s throw away from the police outpost under the Y-shaped overpass near the Baguio Center Mall, it is not stopped or raided because of the protection that corrupt patrol policemen provide its operators.
On several nights until last Wednesday, I have seen police patrol cars with body numbers MPU 15, 16, 11, BCPO 87, 132 come one by one, blow their sirens before parking at T. Alonzo St. across the shanty and wait for a guy in bonnet or ball cap hand over some booties to the driver of the waiting patrol car.   
These cops are the ones that PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa wants to get rid of. They are corrupt cops and should not occupy posts in an institution such as the PNP. Certainly, COP Saculles knows the men in uniform who ride in the patrol cars mentioned.
Sorry to say but there are only two things possible that Baguio COP Saculles is in – either he is honestly unaware of what his men are up to nightly at Tabora Park, or he has been asleep all the time.   



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