A disgrace-A A +A
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
IMAGINE you're a tourist freshly arrived at Davao's airport. A hotel shuttle bus is waiting bound for your downtown accommodation. It speeds along the Diversion Road, a ribbon development of industrial trading lots and subdivision development, turns left over the Buhangin underpass, and heads towards the Bajada J.P. Laurel intersection.
So far nothing remarkable, the busy outskirts of a developing city but, as the bus hits the smooth tarmac of the J. P. Laurel overpass, a city vista opens up. It's a 180 degree view -- to the left is the bell-shaped roof of the Lon Hua Buddhist temple, further round and to the right the slender iron diamond of the Pinnacle Hotel's roof ornament and the bedou tent-like frontage of a downtown city mall. In front is the strait cutting Samal Island off from the mainland, Samal itself a long, low gray-green often back dropped by towering cumulus. On a cool clear morning it's an exhilarating panorama and our bus-born tourist's first view of Davao's city skyline.
Some nameless pen pusher down at the City Building Office or whatever agency sees to these things has seen fit to approve the construction of a gigantic billboard right next to the flyover off a Palm Village cul-de-sac. And, in order to be seen from the flyover's upper deck, the billboard's metal frame is what the hamburger people call upsized. I paced it out to be forty feet across and it looked to be higher than those electric utility poles which march up the Buhangin road and I know those to be ninety feet tall.
This city skyline view has gone forever thanks to some rubber-stamping official who probably never gets out of his or her chair. Who doesn't comprehend that tourists -- outsiders, maybe a few Dabawenyos -- appreciate a pleasant-looking city rather than, in this case, be confronted with a vast image of some B-rated celebrity endorsing meatloaf or laundry detergent.
It's a disgrace. The City Building Office and the SP's Committee on Tourism and Beautification (That's a laugh) should be hanging their collective heads in shame but they won't because -- let's be honest -- who gives a hoot what the city looks like as long as we can make some
Some weeks ago there was a newspaper item -- I wish I'd kept the cutting -- reporting on the City Building Office, which regulates billboards and hoardings, on how they were undertaking a survey of the city's billboards to weed out the illegal and unsafe and so on and which is all well and good but does anyone actually look to see where the billboard is to be erected -- How it will impact on the immediate neighborhood -- Or diminish the aesthetic appeal of the city -- I think not. The word eyesore or monstrosity or even blot on the landscape are terms obviously not in their remit (Nor in the SP's Committee on Tourism and Beautification). Money up front, down comes the rubber stamp. Application approved without anyone noticing what they are actually approving, the City Building Office another supposedly regulating and implementing agency which doesn't work, which exists solely to provide employment and, heaven forbid, that anyone should actually quit their chair and air-conditioned office to eyeball their approvals - maybe then, courtesy of their agency, they'd notice what a mess the city is becoming.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 08, 2013.