City Environment and Parks Management Officer Rhenan Diwas said they are carefully studying their course of action on the case of the elderly women posing for photographs for-a-fee at the
Botanical Garden. The women who city old timers said had been plying their trade in the park since the late 1970s drew attention recently due to complaints by some park goers of them photobombing or insisting on joining photo sessions and demanding that they get paid.

The complaints reached the city council prompting Councilor Lilia Farinas, chair of the council committee on tourism, special events and parks to call Diwas’ attention during their regular session last July 3, 2023. Diwas said the women’s activities at the park had never been sanctioned by the city government but had been tolerated out of respect considering that they are Cordilleran elders and their long-time presence in the area had become part of the park’s identity.

He said it is for this reason along with cultural sensitivity considerations that the city had to tread carefully on decisions concerning them, Diwas said. “We need to be very cautious on how we are going to treat this issue because of these factors. We cannot remove them forcibly,” he said. He said the women had from time to time been reminded of proper decorum when concerns were raised by park goers.

City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo said the elderly women’s rash behavior had also been a concern of their office and one solution considered was for them to be included in the sustainable
livelihood program of the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development Officer. Diwas however said it must be considered that most of the persons involved were not there for livelihood.
“We have to consider that most of them are provided for by their families and are not required to work but they go there just the same just to have something to do or because it has become part of their routine,” he said.

He said his office will contact the families of the elderly to do a profiling and to hopefully convince them to discontinue their park activities. While their next move is being studied, he said they will
continue to remind the ladies to always observe proper conduct.

Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO

Amianan Balita Ngayon