The signs are clear and visible that the over 60-year-old closed dump facility of the city is turning to become an ecological park.

Photo: LAND CONVERSION. The Irisan open dumpsite in Baguio City is slowly being converted to an ecological park with several works being done. The five-hectare facility started massive conversion in 2019, about eight years after six people died in a trash slide amid Typhoon Mina in 2011. (Photo courtesy of PIO-Baguio)

Aileen Refuerzo, chief of the city information office, on Friday said the Irisan dumpsite-turned-eco-park is being eyed as the city’s newest attraction with works being done to prepare it for visitors.

She said the guidelines are already on the drawing board while other works are being completed before it will be officially opened to the public.

Refuerzo said the conversion of the open dumpsite to an eco-park is among the promises of Mayor Benjamin Magalong at the start of his term, committing on his first official day in office in 2019 that the dumpsite will become a park where people can relax.

The stinky odor emitted by the tons of garbage that accumulated over decades has been eradicated, giving relief to the noses and lungs of the residents in the city’s biggest and vote-rich barangay.

Magalong on Friday said the area which has been covered by a Writ of Kalikasan since 2012 has been significantly improved although there are still a lot more groundworks needed.

“At present, it is showing a lot of promise and has the potential to become part of our attractions in the city,” the mayor said.

He said that still to be done and part of the improvement work in the area is the construction of a sewerage treatment plant to address the leachate problem.

“It is still a long way to go but we are happy with the transformation,” the mayor said.

In 2011, the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan after an avalanche of garbage at the height of Typhoon Mina left six people dead.

In 2008, the city government has already stopped using the area as an open dumpsite but the mountain of garbage remained, which rolled down during the typhoon in 2011.

Magalong earlier said that turning the decommissioned dumpsite into an ecological park is a long-term solution to the condition of the area.

Actual conversion to a park 

After its closure, several efforts were done to contain not just the mountain of garbage but also to rid the place of the foul smell that continued to plague residents.

Retaining walls were constructed to prevent a repeat of the trash slide.

The project to transform the former Irisan open dumpsite into a park costs more than PHP17 million.

Using the development plan for the ecological park that was prepared by the City Engineering Office, the works commenced in 2019 with the construction of pathways for walking and bamboo huts.

The City Environment and Parks Management Office helped in the re-greening works initially planting vetiver grasses to stabilize the slopes.

A parking space is currently being established in the area before it finally opens to the public.

At present, greenery on terraces can be seen with recyclables utilized as planting materials along available areas.

Refuerzo said while the area is being transformed, the building beside it that was used as a recycling facility still operates as Environmental Recycling System (ERS) where machines turn biodegradable waste into compost fertilizer.

The ERS is processing a maximum of 50 tons of biodegradable waste daily, half of which is generated from vegetable waste at the public market, which can be used by plant enthusiasts.

Magalong said they are hoping that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will help Baguio in convincing the Supreme Court to lift the Writ of Kalikasan over the five-hectare former dump facility. (Liza Agoot, PNA)