Issue of August 4, 2019
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Council eyes heritage fest to relive Session Road’s history
by Jordan G. Habbiling

Reliving the vintage, the city council approved on first reading the proposed ordinance seeking to institutionalize a “Session Road History and Heritage Festival” on the third Saturday of April until the second Sunday of June of every year.

Vice Mayor Faustino A. Olowan and Councilor Elaine D. Sembrano also proposed that P500,000 be allocated annually for the purpose.

The measure intends to encourage Baguio residents and tourists to be in tune with the history of Session Road which “has already been forgotten and even unknown to most residents.”

“Session Road was named based on the fact that it leads to the location of the site (Old Baden Powell at Governor Pack Road) where the Philippine Commission held its first session in Baguio, and they conducted sessions thereat from April 22 to June 11, 1904, and were able to approve 74 acts and 272 resolutions,” Sembrano said in the proposed ordinance.

The commission was composed of Gov. General Luke E. Wright and commissioners Henry C. Ide, Dean Conant Worcester, Trinidad Pardo Tavera, Benito Legard, Jose de Luzuriaga, James Francis Smith, and William Cameron Forbes.

Sembrano said among the salient legislations of the commission were the creation of the Philippine Senate and the Senate’s initiative to dub Baguio as the Philippines’ Summer Capital.

Referencing a dissertation entitled, “A Visual History of Baguio City’s Session Road through Photographs and Primary Documents” through website, Sembrano also mentioned different areas along Session Road with historical significance such as the Post Office, which then served as a constabulary barracks and later a convent, and the site of Greenwich and Pizza Volante, formerly Session Theater, which was then a penal colony of at least 500 prisoners.

The authors proposed for the closure of Session Road on Saturdays and Sundays of each week within the said period to allow residents and tourists to walk freely from the rotunda near SM to Mercury Drug at Lower Session Road without vehicular traffic.

Restaurants and fast food establishments will be allowed to bring out tables and chairs for their customers “fronting their premises only and will not occupy the whole portion of the street.”

The proposal stressed that there will be no trade fairs or selling of general merchandise along Session Road during the celebration as such activities are not in line with the theme of the festival.

Landmark areas along Session Road with historical value including the site where the old Baden Powel was situated will be provided with banners, tarpaulins, or other appropriate materials containing informational texts about these areas’ historical significance.

The proposal will recommend the participation of the creatives in the city such as poets, painters, street performers, and storytellers and allow them to conduct arts events in specific areas along Session Road during the celebration.

A working committee will be formed for the implementation of the ordinance and will be tasked to formulate other activities or events necessary to highlight the celebration; prepare the rules and regulations in relation to the bringing out of stalls by restaurants and fastfood establishments along Session Road; coordinate with the concerned departments/offices and businesses along Session Road; identify strategic areas where the culture and arts events can be conducted; ensure the safety of residents and guests during the celebration; ensure the smooth flow of traffic during the closure of Session Road; ensure that accounting and auditing rules are abided, especially in the use of funds; and prepare a report for the enrichment of the event for the succeeding celebrations.

The proposed ordinance was referred to the city council committee on tourism, special events, parks, and playgrounds for further study.

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