IT WAS a sight to behold! One that pleases but regrettably eluded the Cebuanos in decades past.
I am referring, of course, to a photo of a section of Colon St., which was thankfully featured in this paper as having been cleared by Cebu City Hall. Whether the clearing operation made innocent reference to the revolutionary act of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno of ridding his city’s congested streets in Divisoria and Plaza Miranda of illegal vendors and structures, or was done in compliance with the Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 2019-121 directing governors, mayors and punong barangays to reclaim public roads from private purposes, doesn’t matter. What counts is the liberating feeling of comfort and convenience it gives to the Cebuanos frequenting or passing thru the area.
Having studied at a university situated right across this cleared section of Colon S. and having stayed as a student in a house located at the corner of Ibarra and Simoun Streets in the nearby Pari-an District, I’ve known Colon St. and its arterial roads like the palms of my hands. Back then, Colon St. was a beehive of mundane activities—legal to not so legal to illegal. In short, this side of Colon St. was a picture back then of chaos and disorder, deceit and pervert behavior.
Notwithstanding the messy and muddled condition of Colon St. of yore, the significance and the image it projects as a commercial and entertainment hub prevailed and remained indelibly etched in people who visited the place. To provincianos, like me, who hails from Surigao City, a trip to Cebu City would not be complete without a visit to the Colon area for bargain shopping or entertainment. Of course, it helped that in those years, circa ‘70s and ‘80s, Cebu City’s commercial and entertainment centers revolved in and around Colon St.
Sweet and memorable are my personal experiences and past encounters on the Colon St. of old, there isn’t any doubt though in my mind that I prefer to see a Colon St. with its sidewalk free from all forms of obstruction, and where both the historical and cultural significance of the place is preserved, appreciated and enjoyed, especially by the younger generations. It is my hope then that this pleasant and admirable state of Colon St. as captured in a photo op of SunStar, will be maintained for as long as it is necessarily desirable.
To do this quite difficult task, however, requires the officials concerned to take to mind a basic principle in local governance. Section 16 of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, states: “Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant and scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of the inhabitants.”