Issue of January 7, 2018
     
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Dr. Mary Anne’s talk on urban planning strategies

“What is the most political space in Baguio?” asked Dr. Mary Anne Alabanza-Akers, a Baguio girl and daughter of Arch. Joseph “Jody” Alabanza, father of Baguio City architecture.

Answers were: People’s Park, former Dainty Restaurant, Luisa’s Café, the golf course, etc. The answer was, “the top of Session Road.” It is the space where many structures were critiqued. Controversial in a sense, but good.

Dr. Mary Anne is the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning of the Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She had a talk on “Urban Planning Strategies to Enhance Creative Cities” at the Baguio Museum last Jan. 4. It was an event attended by the presidents and members of the United Architects of the Philippines chapters in Baguio, Summer Capital, Cordillera, and La Union Aguila.

Present were UAP Baguio President Architect Geromina Arellano, UAP Summer Capital President Architect Cleofe Paran, UAP Cordillera’s Wendell Aplaten, and UAP Aguila President Robert Paguel.

They were also representatives from the artists’ group; local, national, and social media; local and foreign non-government organizations, and the major institutions like Saint Louis University, University of the Cordilleras, University of Baguio, and University of the Philippines.

Former chairman Brigida-Zenaida Pawid of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was also present with Councilor Bobot Fongwan Jr. of La Trinidad. Kidlat Tahimik, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Baguio Museum, represented the Baguio City Creative Council.

Also in the group were proponents of Baguio as a Creative City like Rep. Mark Go, UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos, and June Prill Brett of the Baguio Heritage Foundation. Councilor Mylen Yaranon also attended. Arch. Jody, who gave out the invitations, is also a member of the Baguio Heritage Foundation.

Alabanza-Akers emphasized the importance of diversity in gauging the creative index. She said Baguio should celebrate the high creativity index of Baguio. And that we should listen to the voice of the millennials because they are our future. Some of the questions she asked were, “What do we have in Baguio that it can be considered a creative capital? What should we protect that makes Baguio, Baguio?

“We need different opinions and people should be part of the team,” says Dr. Mary Anne. “We should find our own heritage initiatives based on our needs to preserve our heritage. We should identify all needs like the art district, the performing arts, nature, the fashion district, and probably a ‘maker space’ where people can innovate products using hands-on facilities. Baguio is already a creative capital, enhance it.”

She asked, “What can Baguio do to encourage cultural experiment and innovation?” She then mentioned that creative cities should go beyond the Unesco designation or definition, as is it is too Eurocentric.

“What do you want to happen?” Architect Jody also asked.

(To be continued)

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