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From humongous hole to Heritage Park

By: Jobers Reynes Bersales - CDN Digital | December 23,2019 - 06:48 AM

‘Tis the season for heritage advocates and the public to be jolly.

In lieu of a monstrous matchbox of a building rising by now at the Cebu Capitol grounds, a heritage park —punctuated by the season’s most distinct marker, a huge well-lit Christmas tree — now welcomes visitors to the Cebu Capitol.

The park is one more precious addition to the dearth of open squares in a city growing rapidly not with trees but with high-rise buildings, one tiny but important source of oxygen in planet facing the reality of climate change. It is also a fulfillment of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s campaign promise to scrap the P1.5-Billion building project of her predecessor, Hilario Davide III, as it was not her priority and that it would violate the dignified position of the old Cebu Capitol, which marked its 80th anniversary last year.

Occupying half of what just six months ago was a huge gaping hole when Gov. Garcia returned for a fourth unprecedented term, the park was inaugurated last Monday with the planting of native trees, foremost of which was an Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata) planted by the governor herself, while members of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan also planted other varieties of native trees. (Even if Yves Saint Laurent holds the patent for the fragrant oil extract from the Ylang-Ylang, Capitol employees and the general public can soon smell its flowers for free at the Capitol.)

Capping the heritage park is a fountain that will reportedly rise right at the center where now stands a 13-meter Christmas Tree, which was also officially lit during the occasion.

The reason for the rapid rise of the park after Gov. Gwen took over last June 30 was the decision by a cooperative of truckers and quarry operators to backfill the hole for free. Millions were saved by the provincial government when the Visayas Truckers Equipment and Quarry Operators Services Cooperative (VTEQOSC) decided to bring their equipment and soil to cover the huge hole. Their members were thus rightfully honored during a brief ceremony following the lighting of the 13-meter Christmas Tree.

The other half of the property now serves as a parking lot, freeing the vista of the venerable old Capitol which can now be completely appreciated with a park on its northern side.

This rapid change in the landscape at the Capitol is in itself symbolic of the rapid pace of change for the better in the way the province has been governed since Gov. Garcia took over. Notice how she addressed the issue of Manila Water’s violations months ahead of the national government? I can list here all the fires that she had to put out in her first six months in office but that would take so much more space. I am also biased, you might say, since I am a consultant to the provincial government.

Suffice to say that, like this park rising in just a few months, we are finally seeing the kind of governance that Cebuanos had been longing for: proactive, visionary, forceful and impactful in serving the public good and forwarding public will. Not lethargic, lazy, and so bereft of even a visual field.

I wrote about this on the day of the elections in May when I urged you dear readers to vote for Gov. Gwen and her candidates. This is just the beginning. The best, as Gov. Gwen is wont to say, is yet to come.

***

TWO POPES, the Christmas offering of Netflix, is a must-watch if only to see what would happen if a modernist (Pope Francis) meets an ultraconservative (Pope Benedict XVI). I will not spoil the fun in this fictional rendering of a “what-if.” Just watch it and understand the two forces now trying to influence where the Roman Catholic Church should head into. Of course, my vote goes to Pope Francis, the real one, that is.

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