Baguio, the City of Gold
Our congratulations to the people of Baguio City who warmly welcomed us during the celebration of their 106th Charter Day, where I represented PLDT and Philex Mining chairman Manny Pangilinan and read his speech for the occasion.
People are familiar with Baguio as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” for its cool mountains providing a respite from the heat of Manila. But not many are aware that the city was built on the backs of miners. In fact, Benguet and the Cordilleras—the home of the proud Ibalois and Kankanaeys (of which Philex Mining president Euls Austin. Jr. is a member)—is rich with mineral resources like gold which made it attractive to the Spaniards and later on to the Americans who built the first roads at the turn of the 20th century.
We were with Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Congressman Nicasio Aliping and the other local officials, and it was a rather emotional moment for many in the audience when the photos of all former mayors were flashed on the screen. Baguio has decided on the theme “Nurturing the Culture of Sharing and Caring Towards Competitiveness” for the celebrations, which struck me as very appropriate. Baguio is a land that has been so blessed with mineral resources, but as noted in the speech of MVP, the mineral reserves will not have any value for the people if they stay below ground.
Certainly, we have to participate in the global supply chain, and it would be foolhardy to shut down mining—which can happen if the tax regime remains unfavorable—while the need for mining products remains. It is possible to have a healthy relationship—partnership even —between mining companies and local governments and the people such as Philex and Baguio City.
The challenge is to grow mining so that it creates more value and benefit for the people—and this same challenge is what Baguio local officials must also consider to stay competitive, to grow and prosper so that more value is created that would benefit the people without exhausting the city’s resources.
In retrospect, nurturing a culture of caring and sharing can be summed up in simple terms: getting everyone involved —and that means all stakeholders, not just city officials, businessmen, local residents and indigenous peoples but even occasional visitors—in the quest for improvement, growth and development in a manner that uplifts the community and the local economy while protecting the environment.