Making Change Work

They’re telling us that the official  campaign period  for the 2019 elections is still a good 4 months away for national candidates, and 5 months for local bets. Ergo, no campaign activities should be allowed, under pain of sanctions. So why are we seeing, hearing, and watching our political wannabes doing just that? They’re all over the place, pumping hands, kissing babies, making Mano Po to elderlies, and all other things they ought to be NOT doing?

Candidacies have been submitted a week back, officially making every Juan, Jose, and Maria gunning for elective posts next year in the eyes of the law, as persons subject to every regulation is in the book. Why they’re doing what is patently prohibited is a legal flaw that’s been milked for self-advantage every election season. Why they’re allowed to do so — simply because, technically they’re not yet candidates, is a befuddlement beyond comprehension. For 4 to 5 months, our wannabes would be campaigning in the real sense of the word, but not even a slap on the wrist is forthcoming, all because  again, they’re said to be doing their thing outside a campaign period, when activities are so regulated that all the Do’s and Dont’s are spelled out as clear as any day.

Our election officials can only sheepishly call upon the listed up candidates to have a bit of shame in their shameless transgression that hides under the misnomer of an offense termed as premature campaigning. They can spend everything on the line, between now and the onset of the campaign period and get away from overspending. They can donate foodstuff (albeit so direly needed at a time of great need) — rice, veggies, fish, meat and everything else that has gone up madly in the last weeks or so, and still be considered okay as a morally allowed activity. They can go on the air every single hour of broadcast time in different media outlets, pontificate on every conceivable topic with great pretension, and still be considered okay.

How this absurdity of a circumstance has passed the Honorables mandated to enact or rectify election laws is beyond plain understanding. Clearly, they’re very much aware how laws are trampled upon in so shameless a way, but they’d rather look the other way, being among the first transgressors, and their kinfolk running for elective posts. Clearly, it’s something that they’d rather allow, having much to draw from a bottomless money pit, and therefore much of a decisive advantage over rivals not as well-fortuned.

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Boracay is back, and already there’s talk when Baguio is next.

Environment and tourism officials have been tells us that other prime tourist destinations need to shape up or made to suffer what Boracay had by way of much-needed rehabilitation. As names were ticked off in rapid crescendo, it’s no surprise that Baguio is a 5-name list, the only place that offers no beach experience for tourists, foreign and domestic.

Initially, they’re saying that to bring back Baguio’s fine natural environment, there’s need to clamp down on infrastructure efforts that would seem to have just sprouted in the unlikeliest places of human habitation. “No build zone” transgressions is how DENR Chief Roy Cimatu has characterized is, something that Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat is sharing. She even says that letters of concern have been sent to the tourism-influenced LGUs, purposely to appeal for obedience with environment protective and enhancing laws.

Just an off-the-cuff reaction: any national initiative to help Baguio out should be welcome. Local stakeholders, much more so the LGU, should be heard before national policies, especially the stringent ones, are put in place. If enough breathing space must be acquired for Baguio to have a respite from all the frenetic construction activities being undertaken here and there, fine. Six months or so, fine. But closing down Baguio ala Boracay should be well-thought out because of the  economic impact of such a shutdown would bring about, even more so at a time of inflation-induced difficulties. There is also the matter of Baguio being a mountain city with access into it  freely traversed through national highways. Enforcing prohibited travel into our midst appears to pose enforceability problems, let alone transgressions to travel rights.

There’s no denying that Baguio needs to go through much-desired rehabilitation, including review of existing policies that are either unenforced to the utmost or ignored because the business of building is good for business, not to mention that property rights are on the line. More dialogues and discussions among stakeholders should be encouraged, not to further inflame passionate positions, but precisely to forge partnerships in both public and private sectors towards attaining shared goals. Ours is a unique environment that needs to be managed well enough to be carried out from generation to generation. Ours are environmental resources that we are mandated today, as one community, to care for, to nurture and to regenerate even before these descend to dwindling numbers, as in trees and forest cover.

Yes, dear ol’ Baguio, is our singular pride of place, where everything starts, from what we think, act and do. For more than a century, she has provided us the shelter from sun and rain, even during turbulent times. She has cared for us far beyond whatever sins of omission and commission we may have done to her.  In silence, she has endured it all, reliant that we’d realize soon enough that enough is enough, that loving her back takes more than platitudinous affirmation. What she is now is largely the result of what we have done in our respective lifetime while living it out under her watchful gaze. What she will be in years to come, that’s for us collectively and singly to work on.

Yes, dear ol’ Baguio is our own Mother Nature, she who has been making possible that our city continues to be our pride of place.  Through the years, she has been our wellspring  for  all the good, finite, and seemingly inexhaustible resources that Baguio has proudly showcased for all the world to enjoy and experience without limits.

From Mother Nature, we have had the hills and mountains adorning our skyline from days of old, the riverways from which water used to be fresh, pure, and desirable, and lest it be forgotten, the natural air conditioning system that is Baguio’s stellar allure, unmistakably the singular attraction that makes lowlanders come to us every little chance they get any day of the week.

What has remained of this prime environmental asset is a modern-day travesty inflicted by generations past, a monumental insult to the pioneering work of Baguio’s builders who had envisioned future caretakers to be as resolute as their vision had commanded. How our environmental resources are regenerated to the level of lush greenery they were when discovered by Baguio’s founding visionaries is a huge task that present-day visionaries —hopefully that’s all of us, regardless of age, circumstance and persuasion — should pursue with as much relentless fervor, steely determination, and steadfast purpose.

Regardless of time and circumstance, experts are saying that it’s all about climate change. But, let us admit that climate change did not just happen overnight. The scientific fact is that climate change has been happening bit by bit every single day of the last four hundred years, when man began doing things to upgrade his life, to make things happen the quickest way possible in the name of Kaunlaran, Kasaganaan, Kaginhawaan.

What  we are today is the gross result of what we have all done by our continued, unceasing ways of mindlessly ejecting the toxic gases that is heating up the world’s atmosphere from our economic and motoring activities without letup. Sure, there are efforts done to mitigate what we have been greedily doing, to reduce the gas emissions polluting the skies, to go green and clean in the energy that we produce for our day-to-day life. But, these efforts have been shown to be feeble and insignificant, still quite far-off from the faceoff needed to make a serious dent.

The earlier we realize this, as if long overdue, the better for us to get Baguio getting ahead once more. As it were, time’s up, and it has long been up.


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