Nearly five years after its creation, the Baguio City Pubic Information Office Facebook page has a
population bigger than the city. With more than 2,000 new ones in the two weeks after the New Year, the PIO wall has more than half a million followers as the city’s media arm intensifies its drive to provide the public information on what is happening to their beloved city.

That is much bigger than the nearly 400,000 residents of the city, 366,358 to be exact according to the 2020 census by the Philippine Statistics Authority. “We have 499,000 followers,” announced
administrator of the city’s top information provider in a post on its wall before the end of the year. The page gets 100,000 new followers a year. PIO – Baguio chief Aileen Refuerzo said that they are now catering not only to locals but also from other parts of the country who want to travel to Baguio.

“We are now dealing with outsiders,” said Refuerzo as the number exceeds now city’s nearly 400,000 residents. Refuerzo said that the Facebook wall was created in February 2018 during the last days of the (Mauricio) Domogan administration and had a healthy followers of about 30,000 when retired police general Benjamin Magalong was elected in the May 2019 election.

But about eight months into the new mayor’s term, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and the PIO Facebook page became the prime source of information in a city, and its neighboring towns, whose residents were scared of the new virus that claimed more than a thousand locals. Some of PIO’s posts during the early part of the Covid-19 “reign of terror” had more than 100,000 reactions.

Though some of PIO’s posts have been monetized, Refuerzo admits that it is small adding that it could be more if the posts were made on the city’s official web page which is handled by another office at Baguio City Hall. Photos of resident photographer Neil Clark Ongchangco are liked by
thousands of the page’s followers.

Pigeon Lobien/ABN

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