ASEAN effect: Traffic jam goes to Baguio
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – When ASEAN-flu-infected Manila sneezes, Baguio catches the virus.
Baguio is not among the hosts of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits early this week, but Mayor Mauricio Domogan had to suspend classes Tuesday, November 14, until Wednesday, November 15.
“Considering the unexpected arrival of visitors and the very serious traffic problem in our city, we have no recourse but to suspend classes in the elementary up to the high schools on Tuesday up to Wednesday,” Domogan announced on Facebook at 5:20 am Tuesday.
How serious was the traffic? Residents and tourists had to line up for jeepneys for up to 4 hours on Monday. Among those affected were the areas of Mine’s View, Beckel, Loakan, Outlook Drive, Liteng, Itogon, Pacdal, and Kennon.
Some of the pedestrians complained they were able to take their jeeps at 11:30 pm. Many decided to walk 5 kilometers instead of joining the queues.
The influx of tourists started Friday, November 10. Victory Liner and Gemini Bus said that they started full-packed trips on that day and had to augment their trips to Baguio.
Many of the tourists, however, brought their own cars.
“Since Friday, the uphill smelled of burnt clutch linings,” said artist Ged Alangui.
Although this is no different from the Christmas week and Holy Week, when lowland tourists traditionally come up to the city, the ASEAN week is not a holiday for Baguio, which is a university town.
Of the more than 350,000 population of the city, 145,000 are students. At least during the traditional Holidays, the students either stay home or go back to their provinces. The ASEAN week reportedly brought in an estimated 250,000 tourists. Include their cars and you have a Baguio carmaggedon.
Some of the tourists went up to Sagada, a popular tourist town in Mountain Province.
The situation had become so bad that the enmity among the Baguio residents and the tourists went full blast on social media.
Among the most popular posts forwarded by locals was the “10 Things you should not do in Baguio (A Tourist Guide)." Others complained about the garbage and traffic brought by the tourists and the short shorts they wear.
The tourists countered with their Baguio Fail City posts and the #baguioneveragain hashtags.
Compounding the problem is that more than 300 police officers in the Cordillera were brought to Manila and Clark to augment the security forces there. As a result, there were hardly any traffic cops in the city and there were about several traffic accidents reported in the tourist areas. – Rappler.com
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