DoT pushes campaign for

The Department of Tourism (DoT) is aggressively campaigning to bring Baguio City and the rest of the Cordilleras back to what they once were — a natural wonder and an ecological marvel.
The DoT Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has been partnering with local government units, business entities and every conceivable sector who can help “revisit, revitalize, revive and rev up the bloom” in this northern paradise.
Finding its own “Rev-Bloom” campaign imperative regionwide, the DoT-CAR has entered into a number of partnerships to improve the city’s tourism competitiveness, which observers said has continued to slip in the past years.
The city has become so highly urbanized that the rows of fresh-smelling pine trees that used to line its hills have been replaced with houses. But unlike the favelas in Brazil, most of the houses are made of concrete and obviously built purposely for the thriving dormitory business in the city, which hosts many of the popular universities and business process outsourcing firms in the north.
Likewise, the sweet scent of pine that used to pervade the city has been replaced by the smell of fumes from vehicles that now congest the streets, especially Session Road. The city’s population also grew from 298,527 in 2007 to 318,676 in 2010 at a growth rate of 2.81 percent, nearly double the national average during that period.
The urban problems besetting Baguio had worried even Malacañang such that in 2012, President Benigno Aquino directed the creation of a national Technical Working Group headed by the DoT to formulate a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of city.
The ecological problems are overwhelming, but DoT-CAR Director Marie Venus Tan pins hope on her RevBloom campaign as the solution. An urban redevelopment tourism drive, RevBloom encompasses immediate, practical and long-term responses to the problems and is geared at instigating the re-blooming of Baguio into a sustainable mountain resort city.   
One of the RevBloom campaign’s strategies is to decongest Baguio City through the development of its surrounding municipalities called BLISTT (Baguio plus La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay in the province of Benguet) as a metropolitan area.
“RevBloom has earned the support of the community, the local government and the private sector,” Tan revealed, citing the DoT-CAR’s ongoing partnerships with the barangays, the University of the Cordillera, the SM City, SMC-TPLEx, Davies and Boysen paints, the artists of Baguio, Max’s Group Inc., and the top hotels and tourism establishments in the city,” Tan pointed out. “We have also sought the support of the city government to free the Session Road of vehicular traffic as it used to be, and create a central parking area with electric cars and bambikes as alternative public conveyances for motorists so as to reduce air pollution.”
She said the SM Mall had agreed to put up a vertical garden all over its building as an urban centerpiece while helping green up the rest of the city with plants in traffic circles and along the elevated walkways and arches.
“An ordinance will also mandate the greening of the facades of all buildings within city limits. The DoT-CAR office is walking the talk by making the greening begin at home,” Tan added.
True enough, an agreement with the University of the Cordillera gives the DoT-CAR free architectural and engineering design for the repair and transformation of its office building into an ecological structure with the least carbon footprint, featuring rainwater storage system and natural lighting and ventilation, among others.
Other ecological improvements are also being implemented at the Burnham Park, which the DoT owns. The park is being beefed up by the DoT-CAR with flowering plants and ramps for people with disabilities (PWDs).
Similar PWD ramps are envisioned for the entire city road network as schools and the communities are beautifying their respective barangays, including those on the sides of the hills whose facades are being painted with gigantic sunflower murals from paints donated by Davies and art concepts from Baguio’s noted artists. When done, the murals will appear like mountain-size video walls featuring the floral blooms that Baguio is known for.
Another agreement with Boysen covers the city center, specifically the repainting of its arches and walkways to revive the iconic green and white colors of Baguio.
The only city in the Philippines founded by the Americans for rest, recreation and wellness, Baguio also has hot springs, another tourism attraction.
With 85 percent of the road network to all CAR destinations completed by the DPWH, Baguio and the rest of the region’s tourism is expected to rise, beginning with La Trinidad, the capital town of Benguet, just north of the city.
To help La Trinidad rise into an agro-ecotourism hub, Tan has secured the commitment of Max’s Group to buy P5 million worth of vegetables directly from the farmers.
At the same time, Max’s will fund the production of tinawon rice and buy it back from the farmers of the rice terraces in Banaue, Mayaoyao, Kiangan and Hungduan as part of the DoT-CAR’s RevBloom campaign and the company’s own corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.
The campaign, now going regionwide, hit the ground running upon Tan’s return to her home city of Baguio from her stint in Europe as Philippine tourism attaché in Germany for 15 years.
Currently on her eighth month as DoT-CAR regional director, Tan is also the DoT’s marketing and promotions head for northern Philippines and Palawan.

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