A GROUP of blind massage therapists working at the City Amphitheater is asking Mayor Oscar Moreno to extend their stay in the area, after they were relocated due to the planned rehabilitation of Divisoria.
Alan Binayon, one of the 28 blind masseurs who came to the mayor’s office on Monday, March 4, said the city has transferred them to a tennis court in Barangay 40, but the transfer had “hurt” their income.
“Wala pa man nabalhin ang police ug barangay hall, so temporary sa unta mi diha sa Amphi until makasugod na sila sa pagguba (the police station and barangay hall were not transferred yet, that is why we are asking that we will be allowed to stay temporarily, while the amphitheater was not yet demolished),” he said.
Binayon also pleaded that if the city insists to transfer them, it should be a place of convergence, where the public gather in large numbers.
He also said that the city should understand that giving people massages is their primary and for some, their only income.
“Kung mamalhin mi, didto mi sa lugar nga plantada gyud ang tawo, dili tong tago kaayo, sa barangay 40 hilit kaayo, among customers mahadlok muadto. Wala pa gyud comfort room, ug walay ceiling,” he said.
(If we transfer, we would prefer to be in a place where many people come, not in those secluded areas like in barangay 40, where people were few; our customers were afraid and there were no toilets and ceilings.)
He asked that they will be relocated in parks instead, like in Gaston and Bonifacio parks, and even in Magsaysay Park, although it is within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental already.
The city's central business area known as “Divisoria,” will undergo rehabilitation this year. Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III already allocated P80 million to fund it.
The project envisions to transform remaining open spaces along City Hall riverside and downstream into modern recreational areas suitable for picnic, biking, and jogging activities, or simply turn these covered areas into river esplanade.
Cheryl Gacita, focal person for the city’s Persons with Disabilities said that barangay 40's tennis court is the only area they found to be a public property.
“Naa man gyud period of adjustment ug kahibalo sila ana kay gikan pud na sila gi-transfer sa una from Bonifacio park to amphi kung asa sila karon. (There's a period of adjustment for that and they know that they've already been transferred from Bonifacio park to amphitheater, where they are working now),” she said.
She said that this group of blind massage therapists have complained before when they were newly transferred to amphitheater years ago, because only few customers come, but years passed the customers come back eventually.
Gacita said the tennis court is fenced, and visible to people since it is along the national highway, and it was just temporary while Divisoria is being renovated.
“For our long-term plan, we will put up clinic inside the public markets,” she said.
The blind massage therapists still plan to meet with Mayor Oscar Moreno for a dialogue and address their concerns.