“Cultural Walk” envisioned for Burnham Park redevelopment

BAGUIO CITY – A pedestrianized Burnham Park showcasing the ethnicity of the Cordillera through a “Cultural Walk” theme is being worked-out by a 25-man technical working group formulated for the preparation of a master development plan.

In a meeting of the TWG led by co-chairpersons Architect Joseph Alabanza and Councilor Maria Mylen Victoria Yaranon on Tuesday, September 17, the 34-hectare Burnham Park reservation will be protected from over development but the existing facilities will be enhanced.

Based on the preliminary design prepared by Architect Renato Heray, the Burnham Park Master Plan will prioritize the redevelopment of Burnham Lake, Children’s Playground, Ibaloi Garden, Orchidarium, Melvin Jones Football Ground, Skating Rink and a Creative Arts Center.

The park’s landscape will institute Cordillera weaving textile designs into the Hardscape particularly the lines and symbols presented in the permeable brick pattern pathways and walkways. The TWG calls this “from weave to landscape” design. On the other hand, the Landscape Furniture to be developed will depict Cordilleran tattoo patterns in the railing designs.

For Burnham Lake, the TWG wanted the boat rental areas to be placed on the four corners of the lake with boardwalks, dancing fountains in the center and terraced planters on the sides with railings. The existing view deck will be enhanced into a gazebo on center side or the same spot.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Playground will be redeveloped following a butterfly-inspired form based on the Baguio Centennial logo (1909-2009). Existing elements to be retained are the two symbolical swans, the two gazebos and elephant as well as the trellis and hardscape.

A multi-use plaza will be established for traditional and ethnic game activities such as races and relays while a secondary plaza will serve as venue for traditional strength ethnic games. There will be a playground for each of the age groups: 0-5 years old; 5-8 years old; 8-12 years old, and a parents gathering area. A wooden bike race track is also planned plus a jogging trail and picnic areas.

For the Ibaloi Garden, the group plans to enhance the existing gathering area, the chieftain’s hut museum and the open area for rituals and performances with Ibaloi inspired huts on the sides.

The Orchidarium on the other hand will be redeveloped to have an Ethnobotany Garden, orchid gardens, ponds, rain forest, pavilion, greenhouse, main courtyard and a space for the botanical flower shops.

Not much will be changed on the Melvin Jones Football Ground, only the foot path will be enhanced so that the public will not be utilizing the ground as a walkway from all directions.

The group proposes two option for the redevelopment of the skating rink, the first one is to have a male and a female areas with a beginners circle then the main skating rink on the outer circle. The ticketing area, baggage counter and toilets as well as locker rooms will be placed on the sides.

The second option is for an upper ground level where ramp integrated with stairs going down will be constructed with a view deck and circular ramp going down. Viewers can watch skaters on the lowered staking ground. The steel cage existing thereat will be removed for an open sky skating rink.

A new component of Burnham park redevelopment is the proposed Creative Arts Center to be constructed at the Old Auditorium site with two-story building complete with studios, exhibit areas and an auditorium balcony.

Yaranon said the designs considered aesthetics for modernization and ensure instagramable scenes or for social media photos and video/film shoot settings. Walkways, endways and axis were also included in the plans to ensure accessibility particularly for the service areas and persons with disability (PWD access).

Proper lightings for safety and security are also included in the plan as well as directional signages and garbage bins properly mark for the public to segregate their wastes.

The city government is negotiating a Php350 million fund from the Department of Budget and Management for the redevelopment of the park aside from the Php20 million fund for the landscaping of the park from the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) in 2015 but the funds were only released when the present administration took over thus the program of work and plans are being rushed for the implementation of plans the soonest.

The TWG is set to present the final plan on September 30 during the Executive and legislative meeting in the city. – Jessa Mardy Samidan

Baguio opens Session Road for BLISTT farm produce

16 September 2019 – Local farmers produce will be showcased soon on Session Road.

This was announced by Mayor Benjamin Magalong taking public feedback from the staging of Minda Fruit Festival twice along Session Road as a community attraction while the upward lane of the thoroughfare is closed on Sundays for experimental pedestrianization.

After taking oat as the chairperson of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba and Tublay Governing Board, Magalong announced that the city government is willing to help neighbouring towns promote their agricultural products similar to Minda Fruit Festival.

“We are considering a Farmer’s Day as part of the Sunday activities on Session Road but we are still coordinating with the BLISTT officials how to go about it,” Magalong said.

Among the BLISTT towns, Tuba has its Ava festival showcasing root crop taro (scientific name: Colocasia esculenta) as its One Town, One Product (OTOP) aside from fruits and other lowland vegetables produced in the warmer parts of the municipality.

Sablan on the other hand recently concluded its Fruit Festival showcasing tropical fruits. They even have fruits from Mindanao like Marang and Durian.

Itogon on the other hand produces highland vegetables including rice, coffee as well as organic cattle and swine meats.

La Trinidad takes pride as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines and also showcasing its famous strawberries while the municipality of Tublay produces cutflower aside from highland vegetables, root crops and Arabica coffee.

Magalong envisions the BLISTT as a means of economic exchange among the town members not just a silent governing board.

City Ordinance No. 65, series of 2019 provides for the partial closure of Session Road for 6 months from August 18 to study the feasibility of pedestrianizing the said road in an aim to reduce air pollutants being emitted by motor vehicles as well as encourage people to walk more in the central business district.

The uphill lane of Session Road starting in front of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) up to the last pedestrian lane in front of the Baguio Post Office is closed from 6AM to 9PM.

However, Upper and Lower Mabini Streets towards Harrison Road remains open to vehicular traffic to serve as an alternate route for motorists wanting to move around the CBD area./Jessa Mardy Samidan