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Baguio Before Versus Baguio Now: A case study on the Massive Industrialization

A Case Study presented in the Department of Religion

In Partial Fulfilment of the subject

CFE 102

Submitted to:

Mr. Donnel Manangdang

Submitted By:

Sy, Jet Benjamin

Celli, Ara

Miguel, Leira Deshema

Rodico, Jelene Anne

Taberna, Vanessa Coleen

May 06, 2019


Baguio is classified as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC). The city is a highly urbanized

area, a major center of business, commerce, and education in northern Luzon, as well as the

location of the Cordillera Administrative Region. Beyond its topography and history, Baguio also

stands out for its demographic makeup and socio-economic profile. It is a place where, at least

historically, majority of people belong to the middle-income stratum and the aspiring middle

classes; it is bereft of the mindboggling inequalities that afflict other major cities in the country.

Widespread poverty and ostentatious display of wealth are considerably less visible in Baguio

than places like Metro Manila.

Aside from being a tourist destination, Baguio is also a higher education hub, attracting

tens of thousands of students from across Northern Luzon and beyond, with Saint Louis

University, University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, and University of the Philippines-

Baguio representing the leading local educational institutions.

But as times goes by, Baguio has come to gradually resemble other urban centers in the

country. It is suffering from what leading American intellectual Francis Fukuyama calls

“modernization without development." Baguio’s economic growth and incorporation of new

technology and lifestyles has gone hand in hand with the deterioration of overall living

standards, growing inequality, as well as increasingly oligarchic political institutions.

Small and chic boutiques have given way to large malls, which have dominated the city

landscape – often at the expense of precious trees and space. With people’s lives increasingly

pivoting around major commercial centers, the city is often paralyzed by traffic congestion and

shopping mayhem. During holiday seasons, Baguio’s traffic is, quite astonishingly, even more

suffocating than that of Metro Manila discussed by Heydarian, Richard (2015).

Due to massive industrialization in Baguio, the students will be studying the case of

Baguio before versus Baguio now. In which the process of the economy was transformed from a

stabilized community to a sudden massive industrialized City, because across the urban centers

and beyond, the city has transformed into a construction site. Bulldozers and trucks have

relentlessly shaved beautiful mountains into unpleasant real estate projects, while informal

settlements have precariously expanded across the city, even in landslide-prone areas. For

years, the city has also struggled with dealing with garbage disposal; there are also serious

concerns over the availability of (affordable) clean water, especially as the city expands well

beyond its natural capacity.

Analysis of Issues

This discussion aims to find the causes and factors of the abrupt industrial changes that

have happened and are happening in Baguio City. Similar to Britain, the birthplace of Industrial

Revolution, Baguio also possessed the three elements needed to kickstart industrialization: an

abundant source of resources, high demand, and presence of merchants (History, 2019). The

abundance of resources mostly stemmed from the rich agricultural production of Baguio’s

neighbouring lands and the high demand came from the large number of tourists visiting

Baguio. Causing a rise in population, some of these tourists and visitors become permanent

settlers of the city, also stimulating demand. Because of this, merchants and businessmen were

forced to find more cost-effective methods of production, leading them to utilize methods of


Industrialization have different effects, but in the case of Baguio, it has caused massive

urbanization. Investopedia (2018) states that industrialization leads to urbanization by creating

economic growth and job opportunities that draw people to cities. In the case of Baguio, the

industrialization set forth by the Americans and the apparent preference of tourists for the cool
climate have created economic growth and have generated job opportunities. Because of this,

population rose and caused urban sprawl to occur.

According to Gonzales (2016) of Saint Louis University, urban sprawl is characterized by

discontinuous, fragmented/leapfrog development, with random population densities. Urban

sprawl has emerged as a striking characteristic of recent global urban development. Land use

policies advocating urban expansion for residential use to the detriment of a critical environment

have shaped and reinforced the urban sprawl phenomenon as seen in the case of Baguio City,

Baguio City in the Cordillera Administrative Region dramatically reflects the urban sprawl

phenomenon. Management of Baguio’s environmental and natural resources lies in complexity.

Issues that proclaim that Baguio should not be industrialized are as follows: designation as a

town site reservation (origins in the American colonial period), the plethora of various and often

antagonistic ancestral land claims over large areas of the city, and the city’s undulating to

moderately steep topography. These are forms in which should have counteracted with the

possibility of urban sprawl yet have not been proven to be effective.

The urban sprawl prevails sternly over the city’s physical development. The reason

behind the sprawl of Baguio is greatly due to the highly dispersed urban development attributed

to the continuous increase in population, alongside with the physical constraint of topography

and limited land area.

Based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH), Baguio City, a highly

urbanized city in the province of Benguet, posted a total population of 318,676 persons as of

May 1, 2010. This is larger by 66,290 persons compared to its total population of 252,386

persons counted in the 2000 CPH. The increase in the population count from 2000 to 2010

translated to an average annual population growth rate (PGR) of 2.36 percent. If the average

annual PGR recorded at 2.36 percent during the period 2000 to 2010 continues, the population
of Baguio City would double in 30 years. Forty years ago, the population of Baguio City was

only 84,538 persons. This population size is more than one fourth of the population of the city in

the 2010 CPH. As of 2015 the total residential population is 345,366 which still shows growth by

a very high percentage. Moving on the statistics regarding households, the number of

households in 2010 was recorded at 78,313, higher by 26,011 households compared with the

52,302 households posted in 2000. The average household size in 2010 was 4.0 persons, lower

than the average household size of 4.8 persons in 2000.

From tables 1 and 2, it is clearly seen that Baguio is growing in numbers of human

population and in household units as the years are counting. While it is seen as good in the

decongestion of average household size the growth of households in itself is problematic for the

environment of Baguio City. Although the carrying capacity of the city can not be determined,

interviewees of Katrina Acupanda’s “Baguio's Many People” state that we have over-exceeded

in the capacity and further increase would eventually make the City of Pines not a city of pines.

Water shortage and environmental degradation are other major effects of the rapid

population growth. It was observed that resources are never enough in spite of the

government’s best effort to expand basic services. She reported that 25 percent of the city’s

population does not have access to potable water. On the other hand, health, peace and order,

waste management, and housing have also been concerns that need appropriate attention. In

terms of space, Baguio’s size of population already puts too much pressure on the land making

it prone to soil erosion; but a lot of people are still building homes in geo-hazard areas. “The
arithmetic is simple, a growing population will be forced to live and work in higher-risk terrains

and locations,” Abrajano said in his paper.

To visualize the before and after of Baguio City, here are photos taken by Armas (2013)

and other anonymous or forgotten photographers:

It is without a doubt true that Baguio is unbecoming of what Baguio is known to be, a city

full of trees and a city with pleasingly cool weather. The massive industrialization moves to

drastically change how Baguio used to be with its high-level buildings, road widenings, over-

saturated tourism, and rapid commercialization. The creation of a Long-Term Development Plan

that should strike a balance between local ambitions, demographic facts, and the environmental

sustainability is a must for the local government of Baguio City and its people. With a plan that

seeks to reconcile what Baguio must be and what it can become would make it even possible

for the city grow to as tall as its trees and its buildings.
Relevant Theories

As seen from the previous discussions, industrialization is presented as an economy-

boosting phenomena but at the same time a force that induces environmental degradation. In

Baguio, the cutting down of trees to make way for parking space at SM may be economical and

convenient, but it is important to remember that such a short gratification cannot exceed the

long term benefits of preserving the trees. With regards to this, Pope Francis poses a question

In fact, on a global scale, Crowther et al. (2015) states that 15 billion trees are being cut down

each year, depleting the air of oxygen and further intensifying climate change’s effects. As

people made in God’s image (Catholic Social Teaching #1), humans are by far superior to all

other earthly creatures. Thus, it is a human responsibility to love and care for the environment

(Catholic Social Teaching #8). In his own words, Koenig-Bricker (2015) writes that, “The social

teaching of the Church recalls that we should not reduce nature to a mere instrument to be

manipulated and exploited by us. Nor should we make nature an absolute value, or put it above

the dignity of the human person.” Humans are superior beings in such a way that they should

exercise power righteously on all the other creations.

Moreover, the fifth of the Ten Commandments also instruct us to not kill, and in this

case, should not only be applied to human beings but also to plant and animal life. Plant and

animal life are our sources of energy and food, and therefore should not be treated unjustly.

Cook (2018) cites that without the plants and animals that humans have used for food, labor,

tools and companionship over countless generations, society could not have advanced to the

point it has today. Additionally, without plants and animals, industrialization may have not


Koenig-Bricker (2015) also emphasizes that people’s fundamental orientation towards

the environment should be one of gratitude and thankfulness to God. Because, after all, the

world has been created by God who still continues to sustain it. If God is forgotten, all creations
lose its deepest meaning and is left impoverished. The first of the Ten Commandments does not

only tell us to serve only one God, but also to remember and acknowledge His deeds, giving

thanks to all that He has done for us.

One effect of industrialization that has also been discussed in the previous section is

urbanization. As Baguio turns into a more famous capital and attracts more settlers, human

population and number of household units are steadily increasing (CPH, 2010). A common

problem encountered in putting up household units or any building for that matter is the land

disputes occurring among the settlers and/or builders. This is especially relevant since a huge

part of Baguio have ancestral land claims that ought to be respected. In relation to this, the 7th,

8th and 10th commandments all guide us to be truthful and righteous to our neighbour. If the land

is not ours, then it is not right to be stealing somebody else’s property, so therefore we ought to

be truthful and let them take or proclaim what is rightly theirs.

It has also been mentioned earlier in the analysis that businessmen, who are now

growing numerous in Baguio City, are taking advantage of the demand that the high number of

population is generating. Because of the high demand, there is a need for them to construct

various infrastructures that may or may not pose a risk to the environment. In line with this, as

humans coexisting with other creatures, we should also take into account that we have a

responsibility to care for the environment and to our brothers and sisters (Catholic Social

Teaching #7), and that whatever we may build, it may be for the greater good. Infrastructures

should not jeopardize the safety and health of the citizens.


The study of industrialization’s impact on Baguio City is helpful in understanding how the

city was shaped by it and what the city’s current condition is. It serves as a helpful tool in

examining and comparing the old and new Baguio. In relevance to current issues such as the

cutting of trees in SM, it may also aid and guide policy makers both in analytical and theological

aspects. In this sense, it serves to offer information about current statistics, current trends or

changes and current problems, and along with that, offer key points from the Bible and

Principles of Catholic Social Teachings themselves. From this, readers can develop awareness

about current issues whilst providing them with substantial information that can help them in

responding correctly to subjects such as industrialization. Lastly, it is helpful in identifying

industrialization’s destructive effects and also in finding ways on how to solve these.

Armas, R. (2013). Comparing the Old and New Baguio. Retrieved May 1, 2019 from


Cook, M. (2018). Importance of Plants & Animals in Human Life. Retrieved from


Crowther, T., Glick, H., Covey, K., Bettigole, C., Maynard, D., & Thomas, S. et al. (2015).

Mapping tree density at a global scale. Nature, 525(7568), 201-205. doi:


Filipinas Heritage Library. (2014). “Welook before and after, and pine for what is not”. Retrieved

May 1, 2019 from https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/wRRh0dsu

Gonzales, L. (2016). Urban Sprawl: Extent And Environmental Impactin Baguio City,

Philippines [Ebook]. Baguio City: Saint Louis University. Retrieved from


History. (2019). Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/industrial-


Heydarian, R. (30th of May, 2015). Beautiful Baguio: What Happened? Retrieved from


Investopedia. (2018). How does industrialization lead to urbanization?. Retrieved from


Koenig-Bricker, W. (2015). Ten Commandments for the Environment. Retrieved from