“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” –Michelangelo
By Alex P. Vidal
NEWARK, New Jersey — The present location of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street in downtown Iloilo City in the Philippines is perfect.
Some Ilonggos find it difficult how to locate the Hoskyn’s Compound, the Iloilo Sports Complex, the Plaza Libertad, the Fort San Pedro, the Nelly’s Garden, the Jaro Belfry, the Rotary Ampitheater, Camp Martin Delgado, among other major destinations in the “City of Love”, but they know how fast to reach the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines known for its easy access to the regional government offices, universities, parks, landmarks, churches, seaports and arrastre services, a shopping center, media institutions, a business center, a police camp, and the Filipino-Chinese community.
It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines where all types of vehicles and other modes of transportation, except airplane, can enter and park (the archaic Panay Railways used to operate in the back).
When Ilonggos seek redress of their grievances, they march to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
There, they easily attract public and media attention.
The issues they bring before the bar of public opinion reverberate all over the metropolis and are easily circulated.
When Ilonggos hold ungated mammoth cultural, political, sports and religious programs they easily attract national and international attention when they hold them at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand like the Dinagyang Festival, which recently commemorated its 50th year, miting de avance of political parties, and evangelical fellowship prayers of various religious denominations.
Red cross volunteers, social and health workers find the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand as the perfect venue to distribute truckloads of goods, medicines and other donations that need to be expedited for victims of typhoons, fire, and other natural calamities.
Because of its location, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been considered as the epitome of public service, the vanguard of freedom of expression, the sanctuary of the voiceless and oppressed, the mecca of tourism, the show window of the Ilonggos’ character and cultural heritage.
Bonifacio Drive is not a Bonifacio Drive without the Iloilo Museo and Iloilo Capitol, in the same manner that Calle Real is not a Calle Real without the Iloilo Ampitheater and the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
The J.M. Basa-Mapa-Aduana-Ortiz-Guanco rectangle would be arid and lifeless if not for the presence of the majestic Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, the pride of all Ilonggos.