Limpag: Greening Cebu

BACK in 1996, as a freshman newly arrived from Mindanao, me and a few friends found our way at the Cebu Business Park (CBP) with a football. A cousin of a friend lived near the place and since she had a ball, she suggested that we try kicking around at one of the many green spots at the CBP.

So we did, only to be shooed away a mere five minutes later by guards.

It was then that I realized that it would be very difficult to do the things in Cebu City we who grew up in rural Mindanao take for granted, like play in a grass field.

Of course, the management at CBP had a change of heart a decade later. No longer were footballers shooed away, they were welcomed. And not just the footballers, but the joggers, rugby players, anyone who needed an open space. In fact, it assigned the guards to make sure those who jogged or played at Ayala were safe.

But of course, it didn’t last. CBP is precious real estate and when the area where hundreds used to gather to jog around trees were bought, the joggers went elsewhere. For a while, that elsewhere was the Cebu IT Park, but that too didn’t last because of the real estate boom in Cebu City.

That’s why I’m hoping that Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera’s resolution to have at least 10 hectares at the South Road Properties (SRP) dedicated to an open green space gets approved. For a Cebu City resident, it’s a rare privilege to be able to sit in a tree-laden grassfield. I mean, the nearest that you could do that is in the Osmeña rotunda, but would you really want to do that at 8 p.m? You’d be competing with the guys who sleep there and well the guys and gals who sleep there.

So, 10 hectares for a green field at SRP, that would be something, wouldn’t it? I know, if you want to be cynical, we all have heard of SRP plans before. From sports stadiums, sports arenas to what have you, they never went beyond talks.

But Garganera’s suggestion is doable.

You won’t be putting up expensive infrastructure. You just have to allocate 10 hectares for an open space. A few trees here and there wouldn’t hurt also.

Central Park of New York is one of the most visited US parks. I guess part of that is the marvel and admiration of visitors at how the planners of New York had the foresight to allocate 843 hectares for an open space.

I hope, 50 years from now, the nearby residents will have the same thoughts and admiration when they visit that 10 hectares of green space at the bustling SRP.