BY ALL INDICATIONS, from what the numbers are telling us, we seem to be well on the road to recovering much of the economic losses during the now-gasping pandemic years.
Let the numbers tell the story. For two weekends now, Baguio is remarkably experiencing an exodus of sorts from tourists. On Fridays and Saturdays, arrivals are in the 10,000 plus count per day. Easily, that’s more than 20,000 visitors crossing our borders for even a two-day stay.
Having been placed on Alert Level 1, Baguio appears geared up for the next lower tier of classification, Alert Level 0, if ever that’s the next. Visiting national anti-covid head responders are one in commending the city’s remarkable pace-setting ways. Vaccination has gone past targeted population goals, and still going on without letup. Case incidence is at an all-time enviable low, zero on most days, single digit on dire ones.
In sum, as noted by the pandemic head responders, Baguio is at the frontline, leading the pack as it were, showing the way on how strategically managed the community response has been.
So are we on the threshold of viably prospective days ahead? Has the pandemic threat been inconsequential now? Should we now hit the ground running to embrace the vaunted New Normal?
While Mayor Benjie Magalong may be euphoric of this all, he remains minded not to let the situation get out of focus. “The pandemic is still around, no doubt at a gasping level of a threat, just hovering here and there, unable to inflict infection the way it has these past two years. Complacency breeds carelessness. Let’s not ignore that.”
Indeed, in past weeks, there have been remarkably unmistaken signs of a revitalizing momentum, as Baguio got scaled down to Alert Level 1, in tandem with other cities and provinces positioned similarly. The indicators are palpably manifest. There is an ever-increasing mobility that induces heightening economic activities, which in turn augurs well for an eventual recovery for an economy that has grounded far too long.
At the same time, Baguio’s borders have been opened up, getting erstwhile restrictions out of the way, letting in tourists and visitors aching to have a feel of what Baguio is nowadays — safer, smarter, and confidently doing things right so as to sustain hard-won gains.
This weekend alone, tourism events have been lined up to greet visiting tourists aching to beat the lowland heat, eager to experience the unique Baguio locale sorely missed these past pandemic years.
A week-long Montanosa Film Festival opened yesterday, spraying much of the glitter and glamor of a cinematic escapade done the first time last year, with a major difference. Grander in scope, broader in audience reach, varied in filmic activities, the Montanosa does speak volumes in bringing Baguio up there in the universal scheme of film achievements.
Not to be outdone, the creative sector breathed life anew to an emerging spirit of resiliency from the ranks of artists and artisans exhibiting their works that undoubtedly spoke volumes of their earnest desire to scale up not just skills but attitudes, not just talent, but innovativeness.
Panagbenga has just gone through a week of events methodically planned to give Baguio a floral reprieve of sorts, something that has been the summer hallmark of decades past. Done in subdued and somber ways, this year’s Panagbenga offers nonetheless much of the verve and vivacity of past flower festivals, the full essence of a well-managed festival poured out with the same energy and elan.
True enough, the community rose as one in welcoming a revitalized Panagbenga festival, Baguio’s iconic event that used to pack in hordes of tourists by the millions in pre-pandemic years.
These interactive engagements could not but recall the glory and grandeur of halcyon years when by the millions, the horde just couldn’t be checked from the euphoric climes so freely immersed in. No doubt, an emerging sense of resentment became manifest when residents was beside themselves with disdain over the tourist invasion.
By the looks of things, we just may be on the verge of stepping into a magical ride, a journey into a prospective augury of a New Normal. Meantime, do everything possible to stay safe, avoid too much of a crowded lifestyle, and beat the covid menace for good. Gearing up for that is always the better way of readying up.