“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.” –Branch Rickey
What have I done to deserve death? Did I humiliate the Ilonggos?
Did I commit a heinous crime against humanity?
Did I play host to scandalous and violent activities?
Did I pose a threat to national security?
Did I obstruct traffic and the pedestrians’ right of way?
Did I pillage the environment and natural resources?
Thus would have been the valid laments of the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City in the Philippines if it could only speak and protest its imminent extermination.
Instead of being “rewarded” for bringing pride and honor to the Ilonggos since it was built some 60 years ago, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand faces demolition in the modern era when men are equipped with scientific knowledge and expertise to build and renovate.
Instead of being preserved and restored to its old glory for helping showcase and sustain the Ilonggos’ spirit, aesthetic and ingenuity in the global village, the grandstand will be blown to bits in the age of technology when innovation and state-of-the-art infrastructure are at fever-pitch.
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been known to be the Ilonggos’ version of Munich’s Allianz Arena, Rome’s The Colosseum, Milan’s San Siro, Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Portland’s Providence Park, New Zealand’s Forsyth Barr, Poland’s Stadion Energa, Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, Boston’s Fenway Park, and Hungary’s Pancho Arena.
It is a source of their hope and pride, not shame and scandal.
Where is our gratitude?
But, wait a minute.
Proponents of the move to dismantle the grandstand and transfer it to Muelle Loney facing the Iloilo River, will argue that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand will not be actually wiped off the face of the earth.
It will only be transferred to pave the way for expansion and improvement of the Sunburst Park, where the present Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street stands.
From its present location where it faces the giant eagle in a building across the street, pedestrians, and passing vehicles to Muelle Loney, where it will face the river, the boats, and the fishes.
In simple explanation, it will be “demoted demographically.”
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is a legitimate asset. Demolishing it doesn’t make sense.
Preserving it is one aspect of paying homage to our heritage with which we can interact and adapt.
The grandstand, which has survived the test of time, has specific historic context.
It should have been meticulously and exactly preserved.
Since it has become part of our character and identity over the years, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand must be lived in, interacted with and maintained by the public.
The outdoor structure, conceptualized after the Ilonggos’ right to elect their local officials commenced in 1950, has changed with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story from circa fifties to Internet Age.
Ilonggos are morally and patriotically obliged to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations.
Owing to its colorful history, the preservation of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand can help strengthen the community’s future.
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand’s imposing presence in a piece of property of the former Customs House Plaza, would have helped create vibrant, cultural downtowns that will further draw art, festival, tourism, and other activities which in turn draw investment, revenue, and economic growth for Iloilo City aside from solidifying a community’s past./WDJ