Monday, November 20, 2006

In Search Of The City's Soul

TO MAKE Cebu worth the tourists' winks, those calling the shot for the metro have been at sixes and sevens about hosting the forthcoming Asean Summit. But there's more than meets the eye, or so fancies my recent column in the Opinion Page of Sun.Star Cebu (21 November 2006):

Where’s the Way to Sugbo Cultural Park?

What dreams may come for this so-called Queen City of the South remains to be seen, but City Hall is all eyes for no less than the spectacular. Never mind if the city’s overseer has been losing sleep in preparation for the Asean Summit; what matters is he wouldn’t wind up a somnambulist after going deep in trance for his visions of development.

All perked up for the forthcoming arrival of foreign guests and tourists this December, the city has been looking slick all the way. See, the center isle of the city’ major roads where the summit itinerary goes has been spruced up with the sleight of the landscape artist’s hands. Yellow paint has streaked out the sidewalk’s eyesores, too. And direct from France, a “state-of-the-art lighting technology” made of aluminum and glass will soon take the breath away of passersby and motorists along Fuente Osmeña to the Provincial Capitol.

Prospects are bright, too, for the relocation Department of Tourism (DOT) in a Banaue Rice Terraces-inspired edifice slated to rise at Kawit Point in the South Road Properties (SRP). With Cebu getting the President’s thumb-up as part of the Central Philippines super region, tourism is expected to take the city and the whole island by storm.

Upbeat about blazing cool sights in the city, the Mayor also mulls over the blueprint for improving
Linot-od Falls in the mountain barangays of Taptap and Tabunan. Streamlining the scenery around it by putting up cable cars and other amenities would make it ideal as a picnic spot.

It’s a welcome possibility, indeed, in a city so short of parks and public spaces for recreation. So far, what comfort the city can offer to its denizens and tourists smack in its hustle and bustle (Plaza Independencia, Fuente Osmeña, Cebu Business Park in Ayala, and the Family Park in Talamban) is niggardly compared to the breezy vista of Luneta in Manila, for instance.

Now that City Hall is in the mood to set up landmarks that would raise the stakes for the city’s pride, why not aim higher and pave the way for a long-overdue oasis for Cebuano culture?

On this site will rise the Sugbo Cultural Park, or so this column wishes to see a billboard announcing soon its realization right in the heart of the city (perhaps somewhere in the SRP). Where green is the breeze whistling over the verdure and grass as the harvest of finest Bisdak sensibility gets celebrated. Where tourists and locals alike would gather not only to laze the hours away, but also to visit the park’s museums, art gallery, mini-theatre for a showcase of art films as well as poetry readings, play productions, concerts, etc. Where the trees would be renamed in loving memory of Cebu’s creators of literature, music, visual arts, dance, etc. (For example: Narra Vicente Ranudo, Acacia Martino Abellana, Molave Minggoy Lopez, or Mahogany Sandiego)

Beyond the cosmetic change of the city, indeed, there are more meaningful and enduring metamorphosis that would also spell its soul long after it has realized its dream for progress.


Anonymous said...

I was also hoping that some investor would set up an "Enchanted Kingdom"-like park in SRP. :)

Michael U. Obenieta said...

Yup, nindot pud na. But we'd just be winking at the dark if foresight would be sorely short from our leaders and policy-makers.

Lazarus said...

It was my post above. I didn't know why it became anonymous.

I think our local leaders have a masterplan for the SRP, and they're busy selling it too. A cultural park and a leisure park would surely attract more tourists. Last weekend, we brought an American visitor to Taboan and Fort San Pedro. He took pictures of the tartanillas, the buwad vendors, the trisikads and the sights at Fort San Pedro. Sad to say, I couldn't show him more about the cebuano culture.

Michael U. Obenieta said...

Hi, Lazarus!

Indeed, it's sad that our touristy packaging can't show more than what the brochures hype up. Sayang, because there's a whole lot more to Cebu than just Sinulog and the Magellan's Cross.

Kristine said...

question: would they go to colon? teeehee.

Michael U. Obenieta said...

Aha, Colon! Plans are afoot at the City Council to "reinvent" the country's oldest street into a promenade where motorists are off-limit. With foresight and proper planning, I think reviving Colon to its old glory and making it hip to this generation can be pulled off. Wouldn't it be great if it would be kept spic and span and safe? Imagine al fresco cafes or bookstores and libraries in there. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.:)