QC Park is becoming a concrete jungle
There is now a clamor to give a National Artist Award to comedian Dolphy, who is fighting for his life in a hospital.
Why only now? Why is it that it is only when an artist is on the brink of death that there is a rush to make him/her a National Artist? Why not give the award while he/she is still hale and hearty so that he/she can enjoy it? Why wait until he/she is about to die?
The award won’t cure Dolphy. And it won’t cheer him up. After the Carlo J. Caparas fiasco, the National Artist Award has ceased to be a badge of honor. Instead, it has become a joke among artists—that an artist should watch out when people want to make him/her a National Artist. That means people think he/she is about to kick the bucket.
Why is it that the award-givers are so stingy with artists who deserve the award, but too liberal with those who don’t? Writer Bienvenido N. Santos and painter Anita Magsaysay-Ho should have been National Artists, but they were denied the award allegedly because they were no longer Filipino citizens. But then, when somebody with just one drop of Filipino blood in him/her distinguishes himself/herself in his/her field, we are quick to claim him/her as our own even when the person himself/herself insists that he/she is not a Filipino but a citizen of some other country.
Before his recent fight with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao boasted that he has convinced Jessica Sanchez, runner-up in the 2012 “American Idol,” to sing the Philippine National Anthem before the bout. Instead she sang the Star-Spangled Banner.
Let’s face it, the award-giving body is dominated by cliques, and lobbying is intense. Some nominees hire public relations people to beat the drums for them. If you are friendly to a clique, your chances of becoming a National Artist are high. But if you are a critic (like Malang, undoubtedly one of our outstanding painters and a nominee for the Painting category many times, was never awarded because he often criticized some denizens of the art world), you may never get it.
Let’s go through the list of National Artists and we will find names that have no business being there. On the other hand, names that should be on the list are not there. And let’s look at the members of the award-giving bodies and we will find there the names of people who don’t know anything about art. Reforms are needed not only in government, the judiciary and politics but also in the field of art, especially in art and cultural bodies like the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
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We got a quick reaction to our June 20 column about the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) from Tadeo Palma, QMC administrator and secretary to the Quezon City mayor. That column was a criticism of what is being done to the park by the city government since it assumed control of it a few years ago. Too many structures are being built inside the park and it is becoming a concrete jungle. Grass has been removed and areas under the trees are paved with concrete to make way for parking spaces, the column noted. There are too many sari-sari stores inside the park, and a carnival is there not only during the Christmas season but the whole year through. The place is fast becoming less of a park and more of another government enclave.
In his response, Palma of course praises what he has been doing to the park. He says the park is visited by 8,000 people daily. I don’t know how he counted them, but if there was less concrete in the park and more space, plants and flowers, perhaps double that number would go there every day.
President Aquino held his post-inaugural party there, Palma boasted. But that was not because the QMC was the paragon of parks but because there was no other place in Quezon City big enough to hold the crowd. The Quezon City government should be ashamed that for a city as big as Quezon City, it has only a mini-park. A city that big should have a main park as big as the Luneta or even like the Central Park in New York or other parks in other cities.
Palma also boasted of public facilities recently put up like the Seminar Hall, Century Hall, People’s Hall, covered courts and stage. These are the reasons the park is becoming crowded: too many structures are being built inside the park.
Alas, Palma misses the whole point. The purpose of a park is not to give room for seminar halls and other halls for people to gather in. A park is a place with plenty of space, fresh air, grass, trees, plants and flowers, a place where people can escape the narrow confines of the cramped houses they live in. A place where people can lie down on the grass and watch the clouds roll by in the blue sky, listen to the wind blowing through the tops of the trees, watch the butterflies and bees flit from flower to flower, feel the cool breeze caressing their bodies. A park is a place where a man can picnic with his family on the grass under the trees, and afterwards sleep on the soft grass until it is time to go home. Under Palma, the grasses under the trees are now gone, replaced with concrete parking spaces.
A park is a place where children can watch fish swim in a pool and pet baby domestic animals like calves, kids, piglets, colts, lambs, chicks, ducklings, and goslings, rabbits and guinea pigs, etc., in a petting zoo. A park is a place with a vast open space where children can fly their kites or play softball. With the now cramped park, children cannot do these things. When they run they are bound to bump into a store or some other structure.
We need some other person, someone who knows what parks are supposed to be, to administer the QMC. Meanwhile, Palma can spend his time looking for other spaces that can be turned into parks.
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