Baguio population now estimated at 400,000

Posted at Apr 14 2012 01:31 PM | Updated as of Apr 14 2012 09:33 PM

Lush forests, fresh air, clear roads, pollution-free. This is the Baguio City that Ursula Daoey knew.

“Life was a lot simpler, air was cleaner and it was a very, very small mountain city,” Daoey said.

But, no more.

Today, Baguio's streets are congested with vehicles and its skyline, now peppered with buildings.

"When we were kids we just cross [the streets] back and forth without the possibility of being hit by a vehicle,” said urban planner, Architect Joseph Alabanza.

Baguio was designed for only 25,000 people, but today, the city's population is estimated at about 400,000.

Based on data from the local government, out of a total land area of 5,749 hectares, 5,183 hectares are for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional use, while only about 521 hectares are left for forest cover.

“Socio-economic development should balance also with the demands of the environment. This way, we can probably to some extent stop the migration to Baguio,” Alabanza said.

Which is why many Baguio residents were outraged over SM's plan to uproot and transfer the pine trees at Luneta Hills.

SM has maintained it will not cut the trees, but an environmentalist said the trees may not live long after being earthballed.

SM had earlier said it had tapped experts for the earthballing operations. The DENR says it is monitoring SM's compliance with the temporary environmental protection order from the court. - Maira Wallis, ABS-CBN News.