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