“Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river.” –Cordell Hull
I hope the news of Iloilo City Mayor Jose ‘Joe III’ Espinosa III planning to rename the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, which has recently been moved to Muelle Loney Street and facing the Iloilo River, to the “Dinagyang Grandstand” is not true. It would add insult to injury for those who constructed the original facility back in the 1950s, which was built to commemorate RA 1209, or the Iloilo City Freedom Law; the law restored the rights of Iloilo City residents to elect their own mayor, vice mayor, and city councilors.
From the start, the decision to transfer the grandstand from Sunburst Park to its current location was met with bitter derision from city residents who wanted to preserve local history and heritage, along with both millennials and senior citizens who wanted to retain the city’s spirit and aesthetic. However, Espinosa and fellow proponents insisted the transfer was “necessary” in order to pave the way for a revival and redevelopment of the park – the mayor won, protesters lost; tuloy lang ligaya.
Wait – the mayor was already thinking of the changing the venue’s name before it was even completed? The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand was only supposed to be “physically transferred,” but instead it will be demolished, transferred, and permanently erased from memory?
Espinosa is also expected to issue an executive order officially renaming the facility before this year’s Dinagyang Festival highlights, which are scheduled to run from January 25 to 27.
When revelers visit the venue, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand name, along with glorious recollections of the iconic structure, will be a ghost.
Will the new grandstand be exclusively used for the Dinagyang Festival? What about other educational, medical, cultural, political, spiritual, business, and civic activities?
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is a household name and known around the world.
Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon and others who care about the city’s history and heritage are expected to ask Espinosa to reconsider the decision to permanently discard all the glory of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
As an Ilonggo who was born and raised in Iloilo City, I mourn the mayor’s latest boondoggle./WDJ