Baguio’s Trees: One Person’s Wonder Is Another Person’s Greed Michael A. Bengwaya

Baguio’s Trees: One Person’s Wonder Is Another Person’s Greed

Michael A. Bengwayan

Baguio’s Trees: One Person’s Wonder Is Another Person’s Greed
Michael A. Bengwayan

We live in a nature-deficit disorder. We in Baguio do. We have one of the most beautiful places in the country but it is nothing to what we see now. Those who live through the rat race daily and seldom pause in their lives do not know what I speak about.

To people who have grown up with trees all their lives, we connect beauty to trees. As we grow older, we learn that trees are connected to life. What better way than to acknowledge that it is they that gives us the oxygen to breath.

To the interloper, the beauty is all material–to entice tourists, build hotels, restaurants, subdivisions and guess what–malls and yes, parking lots too.

As we starve for the beauty we no longer see, we want a new scene to inspire us–glittering concretes, dead in their stand with all the fabulous materials that saps out all the earnings we have They are found in the mall. This scene inspires people whose feelings are serenely vacant Whose connection to life is dock-empty.

The towering concrete slabs that have taken over the once majestic pines are quite but loud–loud of noise and quite of meaning–without wind or earth’s waves but of increasing smog brought about by a whirling column of vehicles designed by the city government to deliberately bring people, especially the young, to the now apec of the historic Session Road.

As I look at the few remaining tree clumps and alert of their fate like meek sheep sentenced to the slaughterhouse,, my shoulders relax, my breathing is deeper and my worries intense. I feel the rhythm that here in this city where I was born and which I love dearly as a native, I am now part of the scene. Its peace is mine. Its troubles mine too. This seeps unlike a salve but like salt on a wound, coating it from healing. When I think of what some leaders and public servants have done to desecrate a land they do not love but want to eke all its life away, my emptiness inside precedes, as nature’s energy is taken away.

For all that we have learned to love, we have to learn to lose. The fear that it is a stark reality melts away all scope of beauty that used to be here. Being here makes it impossible to stay locked up inside myself. Without trying, I find myself outside, taking my place with all that is here. Because this is where the part of me who cries for more, finds all I need. No longer separate, I now connect. No longer tense, I release.

I protest. I shout against the madness. Not in anger and frustration but out of utter helplessness.

LEAVE THE TREES ALONE, they have done you no harm.

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