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Educating myself about Pasil

By: Fernando Fajardo September 25,2019 - 06:32 AM

I first came to live in Cebu City in 1965 as a first year student at the University of San Carlos (USC). Luckily, I was able to get a teaching job in economics at USC after my graduation and continued to live in the city, where I also took the opportunity to enrol for my graduate study in economics.

I got married to Ale in 1971. In 1974, I got the opportunity to work as a professional economist of the newly organized regional office of the National Economic and Development (NEDA) based in Cagayan de Oro City. Longing to come back to Cebu, I asked my director to allow me to work in NEDA VII for a while after the successful EDSA Revolution in 1986 that ended the dictatorial rule of Marcos. My director agreed and this lasted until 1988 when I finally got my promotion as NEDA Assistant Regional Director in Cebu. Six years later in 1994, I decided to retire after completing 20 years of government service.

By the time I left NEDA, I had already lived for a total of 15 years in all in Cebu City. During this time never did I manage to see for myself or know more about Pasil. Once in early 2012 when Ale was already diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer, we went to the fish market in Pasil at dawn to buy some fresh fish. She also wanted to see the San Nicholas Church across it. However, that was never repeated until she died in late 2014.

One late afternoon last week, I finally had the pleasure of seeing close what I knew as Pasil where the fish market and fish port are known to be located. There I saw no fish at all for sale. The market was closed and not one fishing boat was in the pier. The market opens only at midnight and then business stops in the morning. As for the fishing boats or fish carriers, they usually arrived before midnight and leave in the morning.

On my Facebook, I posted the pictures that I took of the market buildings and the fish port area. I was not forgiving. I described the place as dirty and disorganized. One Liglig Maranga saw my post and befriended me at FB. He then went on to explain to me the background of Pasil and how it came to be as I described in my FB post.

He claimed that he came from Barangay Suba, the place where the Pasil Market and Fish Port are located, adding that he believed I was surprised to know that Pasil is not exactly the location of the fish market and the fish port. He said that in the early 60’s Suba did not exist. At that time there was only Pasil or Barrio Pasil situated between Ermita and Sawang Calero.

Barangay Suba came into existence after the late Cebu City Mayor Eulogio “Yoyong” Borres approved the ordinance dividing Pasil into two barrios, namely Pasil Abuno and Pasil Suba. Later on, they were officially called Barangay Pasil and Barangay Suba in consonance with Presidential Decree No. 557 naming all Barrios all over the country as Barangays. After the division, the old Pasil Market that was made of nipa roof, wooden stalls, and other light materials happened to be actually located within the boundary of Barangay Suba. It is not in Barangay Pasil.

During the early term of Mayor Tommy Osmeña in the 80’s, the city government renovated the old Pasil Market with concrete high ceiling structure, concrete flooring, and multiple toilets for men and women.

Later on, Osmeña negotiated with the Belgian government for a grant to build a Fish Port. Included in the grant with the Fish Port were a facility for making ice, a Seawall, and a water treatment plant. In return, the City named for Belgium the street from San Nicholas de Tolentino Church leading to the Fish Port.

According to Maranga, at the beginning the market and fish port were clean and orderly but that it did not last long for lack of clear method and plan to continuously operate and maintain the facilities properly.

Regarding the chaos that I saw in the Fish Port area, Maranga said that it is chaotic as of now since the project of former Mayor Osmeña and Congressman Abellanosa to modernize the Fish port with the addition of the boardwalk, seawall reinforcement, food court, Mini Park, and flood control is still ongoing. The duration of work is 24 months and it was started only last year.

Regarding the other fish market, the one across San Nicholas Church, Maranga said that it was only constructed as temporary market but that with the Filipino attitude “ang temporary nagiging permanent, thus the saying “temporary nga dayon.”

I wish I could continue and talk of the Pasil Children’s Park but there is a limit as to how far I could write here. Nevertheless, you know now that the Pasil fish market and fish port do not really belong to Barangay Pasil but to Barangay Suba. Why it is called Barangay Suba though is something that still puzzles me.

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