SM Will Turn Luneta Hill Into a Deadland By Michael A. Bengwayan
SM Will Turn Luneta Hill Into a Deadland
By Michael A. Bengwayan
Luneta Hill in Baguio is a historic site and the only place at the Central Business District that has a pine forest of almost three hundred pine trees old pine trees and other introduced tree species. Its contribution to oxygen production and cleaning smog particulates, carbon sequestration and groundwater holding capacity cannot be refuted, as well as its importance in preventing floods and mudslides.
But what is happening to the hill? SM is killing it and sooner rather than later, the hill will be a deadland.
Not so many years from now, this is what we will see. The security fences will one day be gone. The immense car parks abandoned. Inside, beyond the barricaded doors, the escalators are warped and decayed into terrifying reptilian shapes; beneath the caved-in roof among the broken glass and the smashed tiles, eerie ferns and shadow plants have sprouted. What remnants of signage and advertisements haunt the walls; that the entire place is like some gothic fantasy of the end of the world.
That is because, that is how deadmalls will be. Outside, there are no trees, the last chopped down and replaced with concrete to the last inch to accommodate every possible shopper. The air will not be fresh and welcoming but polluted, humidity-inviting and smog-filled.
The death of a mall in the city will be a symbol of something inherently flawed, disturbed and dormant within our generation. A symbol of our ambivalence towards all things political; or maybe a call to action. A symbol of failed leadership. And citizens obsessed with retail and consumerism.
I and our children were targeted by SM as its first generation consumers of its products in pushing the newly globalised world economy. We became a crucial part of that first surge of globalisation; it formed connections and synapses within our child-minds; we had money to spend. In a one stop shop and forgot our local shops that have provided our needs over the years. SM is an example of the myths, propaganda and big money of business hegemony, infiltrating and taking over Baguio City.
In the years now and to come, the damage that SM will do to shops at a radius of not even 5 kilometers will be tremendous. SM factors the amount of ‘leakage’ they can get from surrounding areas into their development plans. SM is vampiric.
The death of the mall is imminent. Becuase it killed trees and still plan to do so, people will start abandoning the mall. In fact, as I write, I keep getting reports only lowlanders visit the mall, only few Baguioites do. And SM will have to face competition with internet retailers like Amazon that’s forcing malls into closure; But there is something else that will be their undoing, neither is it the recession. It is something endemic to the nature of the unregulated development that spawns malls: market saturation. Vampirism will lead SM out of business.
It will only stop if they stop killing trees now, respect Baguio for what it is and restructure their urban fabric, as well as respect local history rather than their concrete global homogeneity.