Baguio Residents and Baguio City Local Government on a Deadlock over Garbage Disposal

Smell no more the pine trees!  This time its garbage in Baguio.

Its almost three weeks since I wrote about the mounting garbage uncollected on the sidewalks of Baguio City, for instance on a corner in Leonard Wood Street and several corners of Navy Base. And three weeks hence they still lay on the same territory rotting and attracting a cacophony of insects especially cockroaches, rats and flies.

Baguio City has imposed a “no-segregation no collection policy” since October 1, 2009. Under this scheme garbage will be collected twice a week, one day for biodegradable and another day for non-biodegradable.

But why the mounting garbage uncollected? Who is to blame? Who will give in first?

Accordingly, Baguio has the same policy of “no-segregation, no collection policy” over a year ago. Piles of unsegregated garbage lay waste on the sidewalks for days. That historical mess of an impasse – Baguio City Government Vs Baguio Residents ended up with the former waving the white flag, the latter happy and victorious. This year’s situation may be different. It’s been weeks over rotten wastes and ugly sights and smells in the Philippines summer capital. Who will give in this time?

Should Baguio City Government be held responsible of individual waste? Should it have given time for the residents to learn the value of the environment through waste segregation? (Like the recent catastrophe during the Ondoy and Pepeng typhoon is not enough?) Should residents especially individuals in each household at least take responsibility for their wastes?

This crisis is a tug of war between Baguio City Local Government and Baguio City Residents. But this is a game where nobody wins. I bet it will take another catastrophe for both to wake up from its prideful indifference. Until then, it will be too late. We will reap the garbage sown on the streets.

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It is so depressing to arrive back in Baguio and see the same piles of garbages uncollected and mounting like Mt Apo. The sight is repulsive and so is the smell. There are really a lot in every corner. I don’t know why penalties cannot be imposed on individuals and residences throwing their rubbish.

In our little hometown in Lugait, Misamis Oriental, households are fined  one hundred pesos (P 100.00) for unsegregated wastes. The garbage collectors with the garbage checker do this at the level when garbages are picked up from each households. At the time these garbages reach the dumpsite. The garbages are even further segregated. Recyclables will go to the recycling centers and biodegradables are composted.

I also noticed that cities and towns in the south are a lot cleaner than the famed summer capital of the Philippines. It must be the culture of panilhig (sweeping). Households and even owners of establishments clean up their surroundings with the walis tingting every morning. Every morning in my hometown the neighborhood goes out in their frontyard and even beyond to clean up. It is not just a routine. For my mom, it is her form of exercise. If it is not cultural then it must be a function of the abundance of coconut trees in the area. In Baguio, there are no coconut trees and besides, its cold to be sweeping the areas outside.

Early morning last thursday I arrived in Cagayan de Oro noticing the obviously clean surroundings. It is a far cry from the heaps of garbages I see daily in Baguio. My senses were probably so adapted to the garbage that I noticed its absence or lack of it in places I visit. It’s the same in Iligan, in Davao and the many places I get to visit in Mindanao.

Once more, if the city government of Baguio has difficulty in managing the city’s waste then it is also up to individuals, all of us to reduce, re-use and recycle. I think that it also calls for a change in our lifestyle.

Dalawang Dosenang Bading

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Diyos ko po! Ang daming bading!

Dalawang dosenang bading and nakasakay ko sa bus kahapon. Sa una ay akala ko mga lalake. Akala ko ay sinuwerte ako pero habang minamasdan ko sila ako ay biglang nawalan ng gana. Diyos ko po! Habang masayang nagsasalita ay sumasayaw pati ang mga kamay sa indayog ng kanilang kwento. At dahil sa ako ay isa ring babaeng bading, hindi pwedeng di ko mapansin ang pataas at pababa na kilay at pagdiin ng mga labi habang sila ay masayang nagkwentuhan.

Marami akong mga kaibigan na mga self-confessed gays. Mahal ko sila. Sila yung tipo na mga bading na dahil wala na silang dapat itago pa ay masayahin. Isa dito si Allan na classmate ko sa elementary hanggang high school. Si Francis na magaling magsulat at palaging may note sa akin sa facebook. Si Anac, Roland, Nelson at si Arthur na nakita ko sa airport kaninang umaga lang. Sila ay mga talented, matatalino at successful na sa buhay. Sila yung mga bading na mataas ang aking paggalang at respeto.

Pero meron ding bading na kina-iinisan ko. Yung dalawang dosenang bading sa bus ay biglang nagpa-alala sa akin sa aking galit sa isang bading na hindi ko masikmura. Sabagay nakakaawa kasi siya ay closet queen at pinagpipilitan na kunyari ay lalake kahit na siya ay kumi-kendeng kendeng din.  Ang hinding hindi ko lang maintindihan ay kung gaano kayabang na kunwari ay maraming alam at kunwari ay tama na hindi naman.  Ang akala ko ay magiging maganda ang pakikipag-kaibigan ko sa mga bading. Pero sa bading na ito ako ay nawalan ng respeto. Sabagay siya rin naman ang mananagot at hanggang inis na lamang ako. Ayokong makisalamuha sa mga arogante na bading na tulad niya.  Mahal ko pa rin sina  Allan, Francis, Anac, Nelson at si Arthur!

Maraming nagsasabi na ang mga bading ay salot sa lipunan. Ang masasabi ko naman isa lang ang bading na salot sa ating mundo at alam nyo na kung sino. Hayy naku! Maraming magandang maidudulot ang mga bading sa lipunan. Hindi lang sa larangan ng sining kundi pati na rin sa paglaki na populasyon. Kung sila ay maging matatag at totohanan sa kanilang napiling sexual orientation ang ibig lang sabihin nito ay hinding-hindi sila magkaka-anak. At ang ibig sabihin niyan ay hindi na madadagdagan ang problema ng Pilipinas at ng buong mundo sa paglobo ng populasyon.

Dalawang dosenang bading. Kung sila ay naging lalaki sabihin nalang natin na sila ay magkaka-anak ng mga dalawa o tatlo. Yan ay pitumpu’t dalawang anak sa henerasyon ngayon. Isipin din natin na ang pitumpu’t dalawa ay magkaka anak ng dalawa. Gawin mo na ang math. Yan ang mangyayari.

Dalawang dosenang bading. Nguya ng nguya parang kambing. Hindi nauubusan ng pagkain.

Dalawang dosenang soyal at inglesero na bading. Sila ang nakasakay ko kahapon sa bus. Sila rin ang naging libangan ng aking malilikot na isip.

Dalawang dosenang bading. Diyos ko po na mahabagin!

Baguio = Basura

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The week-long heavy rains and winds brought about by Typhoon Pepeng has cleaned the streets of Baguio City off its garbage. A few days of isolation of the city due to the damage on the roads leading to and away from Baguio has also weaned the streets from the fumes of running vehicles. It was a perfect Baguio – free from both the noise, the air and the unsightly images of garbage.

A few days after the tragedy city life commenced with the vehicles swarming the streets and of course the garbages. I think people refused to learn their lesson. The deaths of hundreds of people was blamed to nature rather than a force majeure precipitated by man-made acts.

The waste management disposal of the city was already a concern so alarming as it was five years ago when I was still a student in UP-Baguio. I remember my professor talking about waste management disposal as an issue and concern at the individual and not the household level. It is a matter of an individual taking responsibility in reducing, re-using and recycling.

There are little things we can do like little changes in our lifestyle to help our environment and if done consistently can make a bigger and more positive impact. Like for instance carrying your own bag when shopping. I bought a green bag from SM City Baguio at P30.00. I use it even when picking my fresh fruits and veggies at the public market. I wash it from time to time when soiled. I also refuse to have my toiletries packed when shopping. Instead I just ask for the receipt and stuff my items inside my bag. I hate plastics not only because it is generally non-biodegrable but I find it hard to dispose them even when re-used. There may be new technology now that recycles plastics into fuel. (See earhth911.com) But it may take years for this technology to come into the country in as much as it will even take centuries for people to be aware and conscious of the impacts of their lifestyles on the environment. The one thing that I see among the people with convenient lifestyles (throwing plastics here and there) is their lack of rootedness in the earth and lack of identification with the city. Who cares? They’re migrants, transients and tourists! The same problem with garbages is now haunting the sinking Maldives- a tourist destination for their beautiful beaches in the Indian Ocean .

There was one time my colleagues were talking about garbages especially canisters of shampoo and soap and water. They came up with the idea of refilling stations. And yes why not! A refilling station is such a great green idea and a good entrepreneurial idea too.

Baguio City if it is serious to sustain its income from tourism should also be as serious in maintaining its cleanliness and in taking care of its environment. Should they revisit again the proposal to ban the use of plastics? Should they also regulate the number of buildings, the franchises of taxis, and not merely impose a coding scheme? Should they also declare a no car day in Baguio? So that at least for one sweet day we will be breathing fresh air! Should individuals also drive in car pool instead of use their own car for convenience? Should we be riding on bikes instead, and declare Session Road and Harrison Road as car and motor free streets? Should the city government also impose fines and really heavy penalties for violators thereof?

Baguio City with its cool weather is better appreciated when walked. Try doing that in the wee hours of the morning around Session Road when the cars are fewer. And opps, dont bother with the mountains of garbage on the streets. Just bring your hanky for cover!

Cambodian Atis

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I found this fruit on a market stall during my exotic fruit hunting in Baguio City market last week. From a distance the thing looked more like a scaly ball of a fruit. A few meters less it looked like a giant atis. And indeed it was. Its a cambodian atis. I bought one for a number of reasons. First because I was curious. Second I was on the height of my adventurism for exotic fruit. And third becaue I love eating atis – the local atis.

atis2I could not eat the fruit immediately so I have to wait for it to ripen. Every now and then I get to pinch it here and there. Hoping it would hasten its maturity. Yesterday I have observed the fruit has turned yellow and tender – a go-signal to open and eat the fruit.

Surprisingly its skin is so thick and leathery. I put so much pressure on it out of excitement that my fingers ended up burrowed deep into the fruit. It ended up mangled. Its taste is also as disappointing as the leather skin and my burrowed fingers. It was milky and sour. Well at least I get to try it. There’s still going to be more to discover.

Fruits in Baguio City Market

A trip to Baguio City market can be such an enligtening experience for someone who has an eye for “exotic” fruits.

For example:

1. The Persimmon. My mom thought it was tomatoes. I also thought the same when I came upon it a few years ago. I could not remember the taste. It probably does not taste as significant as the others.

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2. The Rattan. I’ve never seen one in Mindanao where I come from. This fruit is remarkable as it is unique. Its scales remind me of snakes (grrr shudder!). It’s taste!

Cruelly sour!

This is the sour-est fruity in the world. The sour-ness does not however deter me from eating the rattan.Good thing im a sour-fruity fan.  I dip it in sugar and salt. My friends with vinegar. You should try this for yourself.  You just got to be ready for a big surprise for every bite.

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3. The local cherries. Its not as exciting as the others. Cherries are cherries. Need I say more?

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4. Strawberries. Strawberries can only be had in Baguio City and Benguet. They have a large strawberry farm in La Trinidad, Benguet where you can pick for a fee of course. You buy your own little basket, pick your choicest strawberry and weigh it later. You will pay the farm owners per kilo of your harvest.

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I will find some time again to visit the market soon for my hunt for exotic fruits. This is it yet for now.

Manny Pacquiao Runs with PMA Cadets

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Manny Pacquiao visited the Philippine Military Academy, Friday, October 2, 2009 for an early morning jog with the PMA Cadets. The cadets who run with money (este Manny) were selected Second Class and First Class Cadets.

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It was however unfortunate that I only knew of the news the day it happened. The sad truth is, a few hours after Manny has left PMA. If I came on time that morning I would have catched up with the event. But I was late.

The saying is then true.

“Early bird catches worms.” But not just worms this time, also money (Manny, hehehe).

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Since I have no picture to validate this account, I stole not just one but four pictures from a link of a good friend Ms Micaela Pablo. I cannot help it because for days I have been green with envy. I hope that she will forgive me for this.

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Money, money oh Manny! You make me want to steal!

City Driving Lessons

I just claimed my Driving Lessons Certificate from City Driving School last week.

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The lessons did not come as a walk in the park for me. It was not even my first driving lesson. But at least the driving instructors cannot give up on me. They were paid by me through the driving school.

Mine is an interesting driving history. I’ve had several informal driving lessons for decades.

1. First from my uncle who was so kind and considerate I never heard a sigh of resignation from him.

2. Second from our working student, who was also kind however the lessons we’re rough. It was indeed rough we round the lot near the public cemetery under a vegetation of coconut trees.

3. Third from my brother, who always had alibis that I have to bribe him with money. He was so impatient he had to be mean and angry all the time. I gave up after one day.

4. Fourth from a family friend who was patient since he had no choice. He was paid by my mom more than his daily income to teach me to drive. It was fun driving from our town to the barrio and to our farm where the road was unforgiveable. Just like any other driving instructor I’ve had had he did not really have to give me up. He had to settle for his cousin who died the afternoon we were doing the driving rounds in the barrio. That was the end of my driving practice. I never attained sufficient skill to drive much more get a driver’s license.

Until this year, when I am more mature and a driver’s license is perceived as very necessary. I took another leap of faith in getting my driver’s license. Here’s the journey.

1. I secured for the nth time a student’s drivers permit. To be able to get this, I prepared  the following:

  • Money. I prepared about P500.00 but I paid the exact amount of P317.63. With the exact breakdown of: P100.00 – application fee. P 150.00 – student’s permit fee. P 67.63 – computer fee.
  • Two valid ID’s. I brought original copies and photocopies of my  TIN card, Employment ID, Passport and GSIS. Actually only two are necessary but i had them just in case.
  • Land Transportation Office. I headed to the Land and Transportation Office in Baguio City. They have a relatively systematic system in the filing of student permits and drivers license. It took about an hour for me since there were already people lining up for their liceses.

2. Since I could not learn by any means driving through informal lessons, I enrolled in a certified driving school. There may be a number in your area. Check them out. In Baguio City, I choose City Driving School for several reasons. Their office is accessible. It is just right in the heart of Upper Session Road near KFC. Second, the fee is affordable. I paid P2,300.00 for ten hours of driving lessons. This also comes with a free seminar for half a day with free snacks. It was a big-time bonus, the snacks.

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3. The practical driving lessons commenced with a practical lesson on the parts of the machine. I learned something about blow-ffatch. It means battery, oil, water, fuel, air, temperature and whatever. The lessons were conducted around South Drive in between 15 mins breaks by the driver. So you compute. Ten hours driving lessons for two hours per day on any day of your choice less 15 mins and less another 15 mins trip from the school to the driving venue. That is only about seven hours and a half of real driving. Anyway, I got free snacks and a free seminar and the best thing is that the driver instructors can not give up on me. It was however obvious that I’ve had different instructors everyday but at least I still have somebody to teach me.

4. The seminar which consists of  Defensive Driving and Basic Automotive is conducted every first Saturday of the month. There was a lot to learn. How to park a car in a slope, causes of accidents, what to do during emergency, and how to get away from the police in the most unlikely of a situation. The basic automative however was nosebleed. I realized that the machine could be so complicated and vulnerable that we should be scared of driving much more commuting on them. I only have to show you the pictures. I can’t make sense out of it. Try to understand them for me.

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5. My next goal is to finally apply for my real driver’s license. I don’t know when and where. It can be here in Baguio  or in Iligan City. Here in Baguio the test will involve going around Session Road. I don’t think I will ever dare to be caught in the traffic in a sloping Session Road. Maybe Iligan City where I was born is easier. There is no Session Road that I would have to conquer.

I’ll keep you posted on this adventure. I’m excited to get my driver’s license soon.

The Blind Old Beggar in Session Road, Baguio



He is a permanent fixture in Upper Session Road Baguio City. He has a name but I did not bother asking. I call him ‘manong’ like we call our older male kins. I have passed by ‘manong’ numerous times since 7 years ago. It was always the same posture. Sitting on the sidewalk, his head bowed probably in a state of dreaming like we do to temper a stream of a bad waking moment or perhaps in submission to the world that has caused him grief and misery. Manong’s hands are perpetually extended not out of need but probably out of custom.

How he gets to the place remains a mystery to me until one day I saw a decent looking guy fetching him one afternoon . Who is the young man who fetched him from the street? Is he a member of an authority?a syndicate? Or could he be, his son? I wonder what the Baguio City Government is doing about Manong – the human fixture on session road – a great reminder of the wretchedness of misery and poverty in the country.

The rest of Manong’s story is a mystery to me. I never bothered asking him. I have not yet taken the courage to do so. Maybe one day I will. Whenever it rains hard, like it does this afternoon, I think of manong. Where could be manong’s family who could have taken cared of him?Has he tasted or does he know the little joys that life and love can bring? Or could it be better for him to not know the difference? Does he ever know he exists in a world different from the dark world of blurring voices he knows? Or would his not knowing be better at all?

The streets in Baguio City is neither kind nor a fool. Most of the time Manong’s hands are empty. How much could he earn from staying on the streets all day? What keeps him coming to session road everyday? What keeps Manong living? What keeps this blind old beggar going? Is it life? Is it love? Or is it both?

(This is edited and reposted from my allvoices.com account)