In defense of public parks
The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero famously stated: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Inarguably, that would nearly be a complete life. I say nearly because it is beyond contestation that in order for us to have a good and meaningful lives and worthwhile existence, we utterly need those necessary elements.
They are vital ingredients that we need to use for us to fully harmonize, develop further and ultimately complete ourselves and our humanity.
Nonetheless, in light of the present era, I would very much like to add, in my view is another utterly indispensable need or element and that is no other than public parks.
Today, I am sad and disappointed to note that in our country, the state and well-
being of our parks are decaying. Worst, their numbers are not only dwindling but miserably limited.
When I was working a couple of years ago as an expatriate (I taught philosophy, ethics and anthropology at Nilai University in Malaysia), I was enamored and enchanted by their numerous and spacious public parks and recreation sites.
The same is true of Singapore. That nation-state is truly amazing. They are so small yet the number of their public parks is outstanding.
Hence, every day after my work and lectures, I just change my clothes at my hostel, put on my sneakers and go to their padang (park) either to play basketball, walk or simply sit at one of many tables where I could write my notes on a piece of paper or to simply enjoy the scenery and surroundings.
Here in our country, I am utterly dismayed. Do we all have to go to Luneta to enjoy our right for a public park?
Why can’t the central government order the local government units or better yet, the LGUs themselves have the initiative, imagination and will to create their own public parks?
The world today is becoming more and more compartmentalized. It seems that we are (de)limiting our already squeezed public spaces in the name of “modernity,” instant satisfaction, fast-paced “lives,” tap-and-go “mentality,” on-the-spot “pleasure,” etc.
Consider the case of the malls. Prior to their arrival and eventual proliferation, we already have monstrous traffic woes. Now the future of our public metropolis is even bleaker.
Malls seem to have contributed in no small way to the destruction and decimation (at least in aesthetic terms) of our cities and communities.
Because “everything” is already there or available at the mall, people would rather go to the supermarket instead of the local market (palengke). This seems to be a nonissue but think about it in the long run. What will happen to our palengke in the future? Palengke is one of our childhood’s beloved public spaces. Will we also say goodbye one day to the talipapa (wet market), too?
Another utterly important thing that I would like to highlight is the playground. Because of our limited or lack of public parks with playgrounds for our kids, a great number of parents today are patronizing “playgrounds” available at malls. Again, if we will look closely, this will pose some problems in the immediate future.
As a philosopher and an educator, it is my belief that our children should play outside/indoors, in the full view of the world, not in an encampment, a closed space, in short, in a given structured box — subject to monetary and time regulation.
To a child, playing is everything and time for that matter does not exist for them.
I call on all the relevant authorities and agencies of this government to look unto this matter with utmost and utter urgency.
In conclusion, public parks are utterly necessary in order for us to further develop ourselves.
JOSE MARIO DE VEGA,
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