Ready for ‘new normal,’ Magalong leads 1st flag ceremony at Burnham Lake
BAGUIO CITY –– Setting the tone for a “new normal” in the summer capital, Mayor Benjamin Magalong led Baguio’s first flag-raising ceremony at Burnham Lake on Monday, vowing to proceed with redevelopment projects that were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Magalong said upgrading the city’s medical infrastructure has become a government priority to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), “which will continue to lurk out there” as some curfew restrictions slowly ease under a modified general community quarantine.
But City Hall is once again preparing the modernization of the public market, would enforce plans for an improved drainage and sewerage system, and would soon install mass transport terminals and a waste-to-energy plant, the mayor said during the program.
The ceremony was held at the Burnham Lake, which was highlighted by a parade of boats carrying members of the Baguio City Police Office, who wore blue personal protection equipment (PPE) suits used for frontline duties during the quarantine.
BCPO tourism police officers sailed at the rear of the convoy of boats, wearing g-strings and tapis (indigenous skirts) with their uniforms.
This was the first official activity at the iconic park, which has been off-limits to most residents who have stayed indoors since March.
“We are unfazed no matter how hugely challenging the times we now live in… at raising the living standards of Baguio,” Magalong said. But because of the prevailing threat of COVID-19, “(everyone must) always give public health a higher value as we reopen businesses [and we] repair our economy,” he said.
“By and large we have kept our people out of harm’s way, with more testing, a better contact tracing methodology, and more isolation facilities,” Magalong said.
The groundwork for the revitalization of Baguio tourism is also bring laid out, Magalong said.
The private-led Baguio Tourism Council had requested the Tourism Promotions Board to finance a P7-million Baguio rebranding project, to promote Baguio as a haven during the quarantine for the time tourists are allowed to cross borders once again.
But a P480-million fund allocated by the Department of Tourism for the rehabilitation of Burnham Park had been “garnished” for the government’s COVID-19 measures, he said.
The agency is tapping the Asian Development Bank as an alternative funding source for the iconic park named after Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who designed Baguio for the American colonial government at the beginning of the 20th century.
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