JOHN Castro, 10, used to look forward to spending his afternoons playing with the amenities at the Cebu City Children’s Park in Barangay Suba.
Since its opening last February, the Grade 3 student has been frequently visiting the place along with his seven-year-old sister Kay.
“We liked playing there because it’s so magical, like that place in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I was always eager to have my afternoon nap last summer because our mom rewarded us with an afternoon at the park,” he told Sun.Star Cebu in Cebuano.
However, fast forward to eight months, the “magic” that caught the Castro siblings’ attention seemed to have disappeared.
“We no longer go there. I feel different and the place no longer felt fun. My sister just plays with the neighbors now, while I play online games with my friends in the internet cafe,” John said.
The cranes and other animals crafted out of tires, which used to decorate the park, have been removed and piled at the far end of the place.
Instead of young kids playing around, wild shrubs now fill the place until a recent cleanup.
The site where the park is built is where the old Pasil Fish Market stood.
The area was converted into a park, after the facility was destroyed by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu on Oct. 15, 2013 during the term of then mayor Michael Rama, to complement the San Nicolas Parish Church nearby, the oldest church in the city.
Also, two tennis courts were supposed to be developed in the area.
After Rama lost to Mayor Tomas Osmeña, a barangay personnel, who asked to not be named, said the fate of the devepark has yet to be discussed.
Village officials of Suba are known allies of Team Rama.
“As for the park, we’re leaving it to the mayor and those in City Hall to decide. But from what we’ve heard, there were talks of converting it back to a market to make it more convenient for shoppers,” she said.
While the idea of not having to go far to buy fish seems like a good deal to Renato Suarez, 48, he said he’d prefer if the mayor leave out the park.
He explained that before the market was constructed some time ago, it used to be a playground.
“I played there almost every day. Sometimes when I pass by the area, it makes me nostalgic. The happy faces of the kids make me smile as well. I’m fine with the market returning, but can’t we just develop this for the kids instead? Let’s give them something to hold on to, instead (getting involved with) drugs,” he said.
While unsure if he will set foot in the park again, John shared Suarez’s sentiment, saying that he wishes children like him will be given a space for them to enjoy their childhood. In 2015, Maya Franco, an architect told Sun.Star Weekend, “Public spaces like plazas, parks and gardens are essential to any city to make it livable. Cebu right now is in need of open spaces that provide opportunity for social interaction, spaces that allow people to contemplate and connect with nature, and spaces that aid in circulation. Well-maintained public parks, gardens, jogging paths and bike paths are among the types of public spaces that are vital to civic health.”