Students plant roses on Valentine's Day as university renews Burnham Park initiative

February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day was auspicious for University of the Cordilleras (UC) students who broke the soil at the Burnham Park Rose Garden to jumpstart the university's latest initiative to enhance the portion of the park with rose blooms and other ornamental plants.

For the first time since Baguio City's lone district Representative Bernardo M. Vergara initiated the implementation of the civil works and landscaping aspect of the Rose Garden portion of the park based on the concepts articulated by UC in the Burnham Park Master Plan (BPMP), the university is again collaborating with the Baguio City government in the park's physical enhancement by undertaking voluntary landscaping, cultivation and plant nurturing works.

It will be recalled that during the centennial of the City of Baguio, UC had initiated a P1.9 million applied research project that resulted in the development of the BPMP through the UC College of Engineering and Architecture (UC CEA). It was the university's brainchild guided by the principle that "quality of life" projects for Baguio should be "of lasting significance."

Research and design works which took a team of UC architecture students mentored by Architect Robert V. Romero nearly a year to accomplish, resulted in a compiled output of technical plans, three-dimensional as well as interactive designs that encompass concepts for the entire Burnham Park complex from the Athletic Bowl to the Lake area, Skating Rink, Picnic grove, bicycle area, the football field, the Igorot garden up to the Rose Garden.

Formally turned over to the city government in August 2010, the BPMP had been intended to serve as basis for future initiatives to improve or rehabilitate Burnham Park, considered one of Baguio City's heritage landmarks. In May 2011, Rep. Vergara had earmarked funds to begin the improvement of the Burnham Park Rose Garden.

The recent civil works completion of the Rose Garden's central plaza, amphitheater and secondary walkway - Phase I of the planned rehabilitation and improvement of the area - had demonstrated that the BPMP could yield positive contributions to development efforts for Burnham Park in terms of planning inputs.

But while Lynn Anderson sang "I never promised you a rose garden," the UC community thought it can do more by once again mustering its institutional resources, competencies and knowledge to draw on the charm of a rose garden that will not only be aesthetically pleasing but also provides a place for respite.

"Today's planting of rose bushes show that UC is not only capable of planning but also in the implementation of plans," third-year UC engineering student Jordan Mappang said. Aware of what the day symbolizes, Mappang says there is much that can be done by an institution that is driven only by a genuine love for Baguio City. Institutional pride, however, also drove 75 year-old Pedrito L. Sanidad to join the younger generation of UC students in their bid to enhance the rose garden.

Over forty years since Sanidad graduated Associate in Geodetic Engineering from the Baguio Colleges Foundation (BCF), the 75-year old UC alumnus who says his vocation as a retiree today is to write in Ilocano said he keeps tabs of development from UC especially the university's "give-back" projects because it also provides him with relevant materials to write about.

A personal aspiration to "give-back" also convinced Michael T. Pasi, a professional horticulturist, to forego a plan to return to Bahrain to work as a landscape artist and horticulturist in favor of doing his part for the beautification of Burnham Park.

"I was on vacation in late 2009 when I came across an article that talked about UC's Burnham Park Master Plan. That's when I decided to no longer fly out of the country, and instead sign up for UC," Pasi said.

The 62-year old who was from the first batch of Benguet State University's Bachelor of Science in Horticulture graduates in 1970 said he felt "guilty" that through most of his career he was unable to utilize his experience and expertise to benefit his home community.

Pasi brought his training to Visayas and Mindanao to work as landscape artist and horticulturist for corporations and universities. In the 1980's he embarked for the Middle East and have since been an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) until his final stint in Bahrain from 2007 to 2009. Pasi explained that when he presented himself at UC, he simply asked, "I have seen your vision for Burnham Park. How can I come in?"

Timed with the scheduled February 25 inauguration of the rose garden, Pasi with Architect Romero have designed an enhanced landscaping plan for the rose garden with an initial P500,000 institutional funding from UC.

The program of work consists of the cultivation of at least 5,000 roses of the Holland, American as well as mini-rose varieties supported by the establishment of ground covers consisting of shrubs and other ornaments, bushes, accent boulders and rocks, gravel and pebbles as well as the installation of bamboo trellis fences for borders. Pasi said the target number of rose bushes that would be planted is over 10,000 pieces. Aside from Pasi's work as the university's horticulturist for the rose garden, UC will sustain the upkeep of the park through the deployment of daytime monitoring teams through UC's Criminology interns. National Service Training Program (NSTP) students will be assigned to see that the park is kept clean at all times. BPMP project leader Architect Romero will continue to provide technical assistance in the succeeding phases of the project.

Rep. Vergara said UC's latest initiative for the Burnham Park Rose Garden has provided the city government with more benefits than expected. UC Board of Trustees Chairman Jesus Benjamin Salvosa said UC's desire to freely share institutional resources with the people of Baguio is ingrained in UC's institutional character.

As an institution, UC is a foundation and a university with no stockholders. The revenue resources from students and parents are entirely plowed back and deployed purely to fulfill UC's role in society. This role spans three core result areas, namely: (1) "to teach," via the formation of professionals; (2) "to research," by adding to and enhancing the knowledge of mankind; and, (3) "to give back," by serving our communities, by serving our country, by serving our fellowmen.

No portion of UC's resources may inure to the benefit of any individual who is a member of UC's governing bodies. There is no allocation (zero allotment) in UC's budget or from tuition fee increases for dividends to stockholders, shareholders or for 'return on investment."

In 1967, the founders of UC donated their corporate and personal assets to UC and, on their own volition, placed all of UC's assets in a foundation. UC is therefore statutorily organized and mandated to allocate its resources, solely, to a balance between its three thrusts.

A university is built by a myriad set of foundations, each intricately linked to the other. UC is built, first and foremost, by the viability of the vision of its founders and the vitality of their legacy. UC is the venue for the idealism and altruism of its founders and the entire UC community.

"UC's recent initiative for the Burnham Park Rose Garden takes place simply because UC is extraordinarily grateful to the people of Baguio and the Cordillera," the Chairman said. "Fortunately, UC's genes is predisposed to wholeheartedly share its institutional resources, its institutional competencies in multiple disciplines and its collective knowledge."

The Chairman adds this direct sharing of UC's resources with the people of Baguio only points to the pricelessness of Burnham Park. "This is the mindset of the entire UC community, --- and that is, --- "to give without counting the cost. At UC, we aim to live by this tenet, continuously and relentlessly, school year by school year," he said.

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