Don’t add insult to Iloilo Freedom Grandstand’s injury

ABOVE THE BELT | ALEX P. VIDAL

“Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river.”–Cordell Hull

NEW YORK CITY — I hope it is not true that Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III will rename the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand to “Dinagyang Grandstand,” which has been transfered to the Muelle Loney Street fronting the Iloilo River.

It will add insult to injury of those behind the construction of the original grandstand, built in the 1950s to commemorate Republic Act 1209 or the “Iloilo City Freedom Law” authored and sponsored by the late former senator and mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon.

The law restored to the residents of Iloilo City their constitutional right to elect their own mayor, vice mayor, and councilors.

In the first place, the decision last year to transfer the grandstand from the Sunburst Park in front of the Customs house or Aduana to its present location, was bitterly met by derision and opposition from Ilonggos who wanted to preserve local history and heritage; Ilonggo old timers and millennials who wanted to retain Iloilo City’s spirit, aesthetic and ingenuity.

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But Mayor Espinosa III and other proponents insisted the transfer was “necessary” to pave the way for the revival and redevelopment of the slumbering Sunburst Park

Ergo, Espinosa III, et al won; the protesters lost.

Tuloy lang ligaya.

But, wait a minute.

The mayor is already thinking of changing the name of the P45-million project even before its completion?

We thought the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand “will only be PHYSICALLY transferred to a new location for purposes of development?”

Demolished, transferred, and now permanently erased from memories?

Reports said the project will be completed “before” the highlights of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival on January 25-27.

Mayor Espinosa III announced the decision to change its name on January 8 or two weeks earlier.

That’s pushing the cart ahead of the horse.

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The mayor is also expected to issue an executive order to officially rename the grandstand before the Dinagyang Festival highlights.

When visitors and local folk occupy the new grandstand during the week-long religious and cultural festivities, the name Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, as well as all our glorious recollection and imagination about the iconic structure, are already a ghost?

Is the new grandstand to be used exclusively only for Dinagyang, or in honor, benefit, and spirit solely of Dinagyang Festival?

How about the other mammoth educational, medical, cultural, political, spiritual, business, and civic activities held prominently in the grandstand since time immemorial?

Iloilo Freedom Grandstand became a household name, famous from all over the world from people with great experiences and evocations of the structure, even before Dinagyang Festival was born.

We expect Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, son of the illustrious the late former senator, and those who care for Iloilo City’s history and heritage to ask Mayor Espinosa III to reconsider his decision of permanently putting away all the memories and glories attached to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

As an Ilonggo who was born and raised in Iloilo City, I mourn Mayor Joe III’s latest boondoggle.