The white bread in the room

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By Giano M. Libot

I have issues

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


CAGAYAN DE ORO’S strongest tourism pitch has always been its portal to the outdoors and its relatively robust commercial center, the perfect marriage of urbanization and an opportunity for a great escape. And whatever cultural heritage site it could throw in, it wasn’t much. Either because there hasn’t been much support to market it, or it just doesn’t have any appeal.

Now, it seems the city has turned its back completely on any priority for the culture and the arts–or least the preservation of heritage sites. Whenever I asked my friends about Cagayan de Oro, they rarely seem to mention any heritage destination, unlike say the now – ruins of Bohols old churches. Or the restored attraction of Paseo del Mar of Zamboanga, they don’t seem to remember much from our city.

A few though have always fondly recollected the storied Gaston Park, a former Spanish settlement established in late 1622, and whose cherry blossoms (which I hope are still alive) were a gift by the Japanese Government. Had always been a site of many tales, and in this modern era at least – I grew up remembering the fountain at the center of the park.

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What lately just started with the complete concrete flooring (a move I have mixed feelings about), the Park it seems has completely lost its identity, now seen to be sporting a giant bread loaf at its center. Folks this is where corporate interest do not mix well with culture, and it is not just a complete eyesore – I mean imagine it being around the old water tower, and our very own cathedral, it is not only atrocious to any remark of history that still remains on that site, but it’s hilarious as it is, a giant piece of bread!?

Just a month ago we had divisoria’s famous city islets get occupied by a giant snack box, good heavens! What was that all about? Did our national heroes suddenly find the urge for some snack box occupation?

I find no other justification from this than just plain corporate greed, if this was levied through a hefty price I sure hope this transpires into something productive. Until then the loaf of bread is a sore thumb in an already vague and fairly distant looking Gaston Park.

We’ve already ruined the Rizal Park in Luneta by having a soon to be finished skyscraper build on its background. I think this is part of city planning – give it to commerce what commerce deserves, but leave historic parks alone! Alone from the perversion that destroys whatever remaining spirit it still has. As a child I remember the fountain, not that white piece of bread.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 27, 2014.

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