THE little cat crossing 29th Street looked like it was about to go under a silver SUV when the vehicle slowed down. The cat reached the curb, unperturbed.
One cannot simply unsee roadkill. I still remember riding with my father and sister to school. In the 1970s, Mango Ave. in Cebu at 6 a.m. was a placid unspooling ribbon of asphalt outside the St. Theresa’s College.
And then a public utility jeepney roared down the opposite lane and hit a pack of dogs sniffing around on the street. One dog rolled in the gutter, a red banner tailing its hind legs, the keening more unendurable than the sight, still indelible all these decades.
Last Monday, the driver in the silver SUV was not speeding despite the morning rush. She or he slowed down, observing a rule observed by many motorists at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, Manila to give way to the pedestrian. Even the four-legged ones.
The older son and I were sitting on a park bench at the Burgos Circle when the little cat crossed the street. The park is named after the patriot José Burgos, who, with fellow priests Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora formed the Gomburza trio that died for espousing the equality of Indios and Spaniards during the Spanish Period.
Although members of the religious elite, they saw the discrimination of Filipinos, including the native clergy, and challenged the authorities to conduct reforms. In a mock trial, where their own lawyers testified against them, the priests were found guilty of stirring an uprising of workers at the Cavite Naval Yard. They died by garrote at the Bagumbayan, now the Luneta Park.
Against such history, is the Burgos Circle simply an enclave of the privileged? It IS surrounded by the headquarters of multinational firms, condominiums, and international chains of cafes and bars.
Yet, it is not only the moneyed or privileged benefitting from the Burgos Circle. Beneath its center island, the Burgos Park, is a retarding basin. Constructed at the initial phase of the BGC development, the P60 million retarding basin stores run-off during heavy rain, directing the floodwater to the creeks that empty into the Manila Bay.
The Burgos Park retarding basin is only one of two existing in Metro Manila, credited by the Department of Public Works and Highways as preventing the flooding of the Edsa and the Kalayaan Ave.
The Gomburza died proving that one can overcome the blinders imposed by class and privilege to fight for a just cause that benefits not only the people born sharing one’s circumstances and biases. One day in a park named after the patriot Burgos, I reflected how the Gomburza legacy lives on in our times.
October 26, 2019
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