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Tag Archives: #IloiloFreedomGrandstand

I hope there will be no regrets

“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.”

–Maurice Maeterlinck

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey — If Iloilo City in the Philippines is a human face, the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand sitting on the area of the 600-square meter Sunburst Park, serves as the face’s mouth.

It has been one of Iloilo City’s most prominent landmarks facing the “eagle” building on J.M. Basa Street for more than 50 years now.

In the name of development, it will soon disappear and relocated to Muelle Loney, adjacent to the waterfront area of Customs House Plaza, Sunburst Park’s old name.

Because of its intrinsic value, many Ilonggos have considered it as part of the metropolis’ tangible past.

Owing to its cultural and practical values and especially that it’s not an eyesore, some Ilonggos are sad that after the face of

“The Most Loyal and Noble City” or “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo” has undergone a major surgery this year, its mouth, a reminder of the metropolis’ culture and complexity, will no longer be found under the nose.

In one of his “farewell” visits in various places in the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by President Carlos Garcia, set foot at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on July 10, 1961 and delivered a nostalgic speech.

This event will forever be etched in the memory of the Ilonggos.

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We just hope that there will be no regrets after the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been demolished.

It can’t be denied that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, renovated by the late Rep. Raul Gonzalez Sr. several years back, has brought character and certain charm to the neighborhood that Ilonggos had lived in ever since the late political maverick former Senator Rodolfo Ganzon gave it a sparkling name nearly 50 years ago.

Once it’s gone, there is no more chance to restore or save one of Iloilo City’s most memorable historic sites.

Once a major bureaucratic decision has been made with finality, no one can be certain what will be valued in the future.

Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever like a member of the family who passed away.

The memory of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has taught us about the history that happened before we were born; it’s imposing image has promoted the respect for those who lived in different times and different political and social climates not only in the city and province of Iloilo but also in the entire region.

It has cultivated pride of our past and heritage making the Ilonggos unique in the world.

 

 

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Iloilo Freedom Grandstand perfect!

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” –Michelangelo

By Alex P. Vidal

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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.

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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.

 

 
 

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What has the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand done to deserve death?

“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.”

–Branch Rickey

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey — What have I done to deserve death? Did I humiliate the Ilonggos?

Did I commit a heinous crime against humanity?

Did I play host to scandalous and violent activities?

Did I pose a threat to national security?

Did I obstruct traffic and the pedestrians’ right of way?

Did I pillage the environment and natural resources?

Thus would have been the valid laments of the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City in the Philippines if it could only speak and protest its imminent extermination.

Instead of being “rewarded” for bringing pride and honor to the Ilonggos since it was built some 60 years ago, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand faces demolition in the modern era when men are equipped with scientific knowledge and expertise to build and renovate.

Instead of being preserved and restored to its old glory for helping showcase and sustain the Ilonggos’ spirit, aesthetic and ingenuity in the global village, the grandstand will be blown to bits in the age of technology when innovation and state-of-the-art infrastructure are at fever-pitch.

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been known to be the Ilonggos’ version of Munich’s Allianz Arena, Rome’s The Colosseum, Milan’s San Siro, Barcelona’s Camp Nuo, Portland’s Providence Park, New Zealand’s Forsyth Barr, Poland’s Stadion Energa, Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, Boston’s Fenway Park, and Hungary’s Pancho Arena.

It is a source of their hope and pride, not shame and scandal.

Where is our gratitude?

But, wait a minute.

Proponents of the move to dismantle the grandstand and transfer it to Muelle Loney facing the Iloilo River, will argue that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand will not be actually wiped off the face of the earth.

It will only be transferred to pave the way for expansion and improvement of the Sunburst Park, where the present Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street stands.

From its present location where it faces the giant eagle in a building across the street, pedestrians, and passing vehicles to Muelle Loney, where it will face the river, the boats, and the fishes.

In simple explanation, it will be “demoted demographically.”

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is a legitimate asset. Demolishing it doesn’t make sense.

Preserving it is one aspect of paying homage to our heritage with which we can interact and adapt.

The grandstand, which has survived the test of time, has specific historic context.

It should have been meticulously and exactly preserved.

Since it has become part of our character and identity over the years, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand must be lived in, interacted with and maintained by the public.

The outdoor structure, conceptualized after the Ilonggos’ right to elect their local officials commenced in 1950, has changed with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story from circa fifties to Internet Age.

Ilonggos are morally and patriotically obliged to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations.

Owing to its colorful history, the preservation of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand can help strengthen the community’s future.

The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand’s imposing presence in a piece of property of the former Customs House Plaza, would have helped create vibrant, cultural downtowns that will further draw art, festival, tourism, and other activities which in turn draw investment, revenue, and economic growth for Iloilo City aside from solidifying a community’s past.

 
 

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