BAGUIO CITY – The City Tourism office confirmed that the proposed rehabilitation of the city-owned Baguio Convention Center is underway to make it as one the premier government convention facilities in the city.
City Tourism Office officer-in-charge Jose Marie Rivera, who was one of the guests during the monthly City Hall Hour press briefing held at the Baguio City multipurpose hall Tuesday, said the contractor of the project already started earthmoving activities aside from having removed the bleachers and the carpet of the main convention hall in preparation for the rehabilitation project.
The 40-year old convention facility was a recipient of a P180 million funding support from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the implementation of the initial rehabilitation works to improve the state of the city-owned premier convention center which the local government was able to acquire from the State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Rivera disclosed that based on the project plans and specifications which is also available in their temporary office under the bleachers of the Baguio Athletic Bowl, the initial rehabilitation project will be completed by February next year, thus, the need for those interested to use the facility to consider using other public and private convention areas in the different parts of the city.
He added the City Tourism office currently provides assistance to those individuals and groups wanting to hold various activities in the city by referring them to barangays with covered courts and other available public gathering areas aside from recommending the conduct of their desired activities in private function halls or in hotels within the city.
It can be recalled that the design for the rehabilitation of the city’s premier convention facility was a consolidated effort of designers and urban planners from both the government and the private sector who volunteered their time, effort and resources to beat the prescribed deadline imposed on them prior to the conduct of the public bidding for the project late last year.
The fund for the initial rehabilitation of the convention center was a commitment of some public works officials who are close friends of some department heads of the local government.
In 2012, the local government acquired the property from the GSIS after it was able to fully pay its balance of over P250 million that was sourced from available local funds.
Part of the funds that was used to purchase the facility came from the share of the city from the lease rentals of the John hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) in the amount of P50 million which was used as the city’s downpayment for the acquisition of the facility in 2004 through a tripartite agreement among the city, GSIS and the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Included in the planned rehabilitation is the proposed increase in the seating capacity of the convention center apart from the inclusion of state-of-the-art units of equipment to make the facility at par with other convention centers in the different parts of the country.
The convention center was constructed by the Ministry of Human Settlements headed by former First lady and now Ilocos Norte 2nd district Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos for the world championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi. By Dexter A. See