A walk in the park
Naga City’s New Attraction
Back when they were younger, 32-year-old Shella Oplas and her husband, a seaman, used to go on dates at their local park in the City of Naga, southern Cebu.
Today, Shella visits the park with her two children every weekend to make up for time spent away from them while working as a public school teacher in Cebu City.
“They like being here at the children’s park, so we come so that I could spend more time with my kids,” she said in Cebuano regarding her visits to Naga City’s newest attraction — Baywalk — with her children, Zach Xavier and Zuriella Louise.
Three-year-old Zach would run around the park or play at the slide and seesaw, while Shella, would cradle three-month-old Zuriella in her arms.
Compared to malls, Shella finds spending time at Baywalk more enjoyable because of the park’s open space and the vast view of the sea.
Shella noted that the park visits also allowed them to breathe fresh air, something which they failed to enjoy when they were still renting a place in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.
Located 21 kilometers south of Cebu City, Shella’s family moved into their new house in Naga City only last June.
Shella, Zach and Zuriella are among the constant visitors of Baywalk which was built when the city began major developments in 2006.
The place used to be only three hectares hosting the old city hall (now the legislative building), a sports complex (now a commercial marketplace) and a health center.
Amid the new development, coconut trees that once belonged to the old park continue to stand tall within the area.
According to Naga City Administrator Engr. Arthur Villamor, beyond the coconut trees before was the sea, now partly filled to extend Baywalk.
The area is now eight hectares more, with different food stalls, restaurants, a children’s park, a multipurpose field and walkways.
The Baywalk, considered as the city center of Naga, is a public park situated by the sea.
Most of the city’s government institutions can be found at the park which is known for it’s facilities and aesthetics, especially during the Yuletide season, when lights flood almost every corner of the park.
Visitors from Naga and its neighboring towns flock to the park on weekends.
A report from April to June 2018, showed that over 183,181 people visited Baywalk within that period.
Families, groups of friends and couples visit the park to stroll, eat and enjoy the view. Others simply drop by to sit by the sea and relax.
With the park’s location near the sea, parapets were built on the edges of the reclaimed area so tourists can sit while viewing the horizon.
The green grass that spans through the park also livens up the area.
On a normal day, children play with slides, seesaws, swings, and other park ammenities for free.
At the center of Baywalk is a multipupose field, where big events and festivals are held.
Football enthusiasts and flag football players can also use the field for practice.
The park has a badminton, tennis, basketball and a volleyball court open for everyone. Additional charges may apply nighttime players for their use of electricity.
From mini mango shakes to siomai and ngoyiong stalls, there are a lot of street food places to choose from at Baywalk.
Fast-food chains, restaurants and coffee shops have also opened at the park.
Fronting Baywalk is a walkway near the sea called Boardwalk — one of the park’s latest builds. Its concept of a bridge attracts people from all walks of life.
Construction of the P50-million Boardwalk began in 2015; but it opened to the public only last year.
Spaces will be alloted for additional food stalls in the area.
Engr. Joveno Garcia, head of the City Planning and Development Office, said that the developments were made possible when Naga achieved its cityhood as it allowed the city to have more budget from a bigger share of the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment).
To cut costs, Naga City used rejected materials from the construction of the South Road Properties to fill the reclaimed area.
The city also hired world-renowned Cebuano industrial designer, Kenneth Cobonpue to re-design the old park.
The city plans to add another 100-meter boardwalk to accommodate more visitors.
A two-storey multipurpose building is also under construction.
Commercial spaces will be made available on the first floor while the second floor will be turned into a bowling alley.
To maintain the park’s beauty and cleanliness, the city hired green marshalls from morning until evening daily.
Aside from cleaning the park, the marshalls are also in charge of educating tourists about the city’s solid waste management program.
Villamor hopes for more businesses to open up at Baywalk.
He shared that one thing the city lacks is a hotel.
“We dream that someday a developer will build a hotel in the city because that is something Naga sorely lacks each time we are evaluated for tourism,” said Villamor in Cebuano.
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