DAVAO CITY -- The inclement weather on January 26 did not bother key officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) to proceed with the simple ceremony of unveiling the symbolic marker of the 20-hectare sports complex, a dream project that was about 20 years in the making.
The P180 million-worth sports complex is a partnership between UP Mindanao and the local government of Davao, the promising future besetting this facility can be seen through its ongoing construction of infrastructure, widening of roads with concrete, and leveling the land.
It took four chancellors since UP Mindanao was established in 1995, to keep the sports complex dream to rolling. But it was the outgoing chancellor, Prof. Sylvia B. Concepcion, who have seen most of its groundworks; and yet she did not forget to acknowledge the Campus Planning and Development office in the preparations for the simple event.
“Maiyak-iyak po sila na nagkaroon ng ilaw sa facilities dito kagabi (they were almost teary-eyed when there’s already power in these facilties last night),” she said.
“Sila po ay lahat UP contractual, sila po ay nagtatrabaho ng gabi, umaga, weekend, araw, at ulan (They are all UP contractuals, working in the morning, evening, weekends, sunny and rainy days),” she added.
Chancellor Sylvia would then lead officials from the UP System, led by the UP president, Atty. Danilo Concepcion, walking through the oval with new seats and green football field and the ongoing construction of the aquatics facility, an international standard swimming pool.
Before heading on with the tour, Concepcion addressed the crowd beaming with optimism for the Sports Complex endless possibilities and opportunities in the future.
“Ang aking pakiramdam, baka ako ang pinakamapalad na pangulo ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (What I feel, is that maybe I am the luckiest president of UP),” he said.
“Dinatnan ko na ang malalaking improvement na ito sa ating pamantasan (I have witnessed most of the big improvements to our university),” he added.
But the UP president admitted that despite this development, there is still a long way to go, in order to fulfill the needed improvements for the sports complex.
“Marami pa po ang kakailanganing salapi, para makumpleto ang complex na ito (we still need more money in order for this complex to be completed,” he said. However, he would hope, that Isidro Ungab would still continue to support the needed funding.
Ungab is an alumnus of UP Los Baños. He was the only UP graduate in the 90s to be sitting in the city council, when he was one of the main proponents for the creation of a City Sports Complex.
“That time (1995), I was then the youngest councilor in Davao. They (the city government) are planning to build a sports complex. And during that time also, was the birth of the University of the Philippines Mindanao,” he said.
“So while we were looking for an area, the first (UP Mindanao) Chancellor Rogelio Cuyno told me that we could come up a sports complex in (barangay) Bago Oshiro,” he added. The 204-hectare UP Mindanao campus is situated between barangays Mintal and Bago Oshiro, but Ungab said that most area of the campus are already part of the latter barangay.
He recalled that when he presented the then proposal to the city council between 1995 and 1996, “people were laughing at me.”
“Because during that time there was already the PTA (Parents Teachers Association) stadium,” he said, referring to the old sports center of the city, which is now converted to a public park known as the People’s Park.
Bago Oshiro, the place where the sports complex is located now, was a thick wilderness back in the 90s. It was one of the city’s rural barangays. Ungab said that other than it was not feasible to be put up with an athletics facility at the time, other councilors were proposing other areas.
Years passed, the spots complex was not immediately materialized, more so that there was a time when there was a change of leadership for city mayor.
Until Ungab became a representative of the Third District of the city for the first time in 2007, and Rodrigo Duterte was back as mayor, when the original plan of a sports complex in partnership with UP Mindanao gain traction again.
It would take another 10 years when the actual groundbreaking ceremonies started. The city government is catching up to make the sports complex ready for the 2019 Palarong Pambansa this April.
But a day after the ceremonial unveiling of the Marker, the oval was put to good use in the week-long sporting event organized by the Davao Regional Athletics Association (DAVRAA).
For President Concepcion, there are endless possibilities that could happen when the Sports Complex will be fully constructed and operational.
“In UP Diliman, we have the College of Human Kinetics, and with the completion of this Sports Complex, maybe we can also offer the same program here in UP Mindanao,” he said.
The UP president, along with the members of the Board of Regents, Chancellors from other UP campuses, and other UP officials, has seen for himself the status of the Sports Complex. It may not be visually attractive for now, especially when the rain that time was making the earth muddy.
But as what the UP officials believed in, rain can be a symbol of blessing and abundance, and they hope, too, UP Mindanao and the city government’s Sports Complex will have it as well.