HOW much does it take to rent out the whole Cebu City Sport Center (CCSC)? In the case of Knowles Electronics, the company that shut out the public from entering the facility yesterday, it must have cost an arm and a leg.

The facility has been closed before for private functions but it never turned back anyone who had official business at the CCSC office.

So what the heck was the company doing inside that had to be hidden away from prying eyes?

I only wanted to pay for a badminton court reservation that I made for today. What was the harm in that? I couldn’t care less what the company was doing to its employees.

I knew the facility would be closed for a private event but I didn’t realize that also meant the CCSC office. I had asked last Thursday when I forgot to bring money if I could make the payment on Friday, which was a public holiday, or yesterday, and I was told that it would be okay…either way. And it’s not like this was my first reservation for a badminton court. My transaction would have taken less than five minutes. I could have sprinted to the CCSC office and paid the P250 reservation fee. And I would have been out of there. End of story.

But who am I to demand special treatment? I’m just a mere taxpayer of Cebu City.

But wait. When I called the CCSC office yesterday to complain about being barred entry by the staff of Knowles, Christine, the woman on the other line, told me that the company had rented out the place for the day. Hello! I knew that, I told her. I had no intention of using any of the facilities. I just wanted to go to the office to pay for my court reservation. I said to her.

I ended up getting so riled my voice may have risen a teensy, weensy bit. Short of a bellow, really. So I asked her, in my most modulated, this-is-CNN voice, how much did Knowles pay? She wouldn’t say. Either she was withholding the information or she just didn’t know. Beats me. I reminded her that the sports center is a public place, but no, she corrected me. Christine pointed out that the facility is—wait for it—semi-public.

What? How’s that so? Wasn’t the CCSC built using public funds? And--and a very big AND—where does it say that the sports center is semi-public? Unless, of course, someone in the City Government sold shares of the facility without anyone knowing about it.

Hmmm. Christine sounded so sure and having just huffed and puffed from the facility to the office, I didn’t have the energy to cimafranc (yes, it is now a verb) but I did have an ounce left to Google the CCSC. So I politely thanked her—really, I did--and said my goodbyes. I had no desire to spend part of my weekend banging my head against a bureaucratic wall.

Maybe I should have introduced myself to Christine. Then again, I called the CCSC to air my grievance not as an individual but as part of a long-suffering, invisible public subjected daily to the whims and caprices of public officials and their minions (for full effect, this sentence should be read in a crescendo starting from the word “but”).

Anyway, I looked up CCSC on the Internet.

Lo and behold! The ever reliable treasure trove of knowledge that is Wikipedia has this to say about it: “The complex was built by the City to serve as the main venue for the 1994 Palarong Pambansa and to accommodate large events of various kinds. It is owned and managed by the Cebu City Government.”

Ummm. Paging Christine, I think you should get your facts straight.

Going back to my original question, how much did Knowles pay for the whole-day affair? And was it legal for CCSC management to relinquish control of the facility to a private entity even if it was temporary?

The City Government must be so bereft of funds that it is now pimping public facilities. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.