P250-million surplus? It’s time we fix the oval


Mayor Tommy Osmeña, Acting Mayor Mike Rama, Cebu City Councilors Jack Jakosalem, Yayoy Alcoseba and the entire Cebu City Council: Let’s rebuild our Cebu City Sports Center track oval now!

Built in 1994 by Mayor Tommy and spearheaded by then-Councilor Joy Augustus Young months before we hosted the Palarong Pambansa, our rubberized track oval’s life span is 10 years. Using simple math, this means that, five years ago—in 2004—when our maroon-colored sports circle exhibited signs of weariness when wrinkles sprouted and corrugated lines bloomed, it should have been overhauled.

Should have been. Because here we are, 15 years after it was constructed, and it’s the same rubber that’s glued.

Why, you ask, how much does it cost to extract the old layer and implant a brand-new blanket?

Considering that our Cebu City government amassed revenues totaling P2,649,247,546.13 for the year 2008—and, as proudly announced by Mayor Osmeña last Sunday, a surplus of P250.74 million—the cost of a fresh and spic-and-span oval is meager and tiny: Only P20 million.

That figure amounts to only 7.9 percent of the city’s P250-million surplus proceeds.

Surely, given that our track oval (1) is the only rubberized track oval in the entire Cebu City; (2) is patronized by an estimated 15,000 Cebuanos who sprint, jog, trot, walk on its surface every week, (3) is utilized by hundreds of track-and-field varsity students from UC to UV to USC to SWU to Cebu Doc to USJR and dozens of other schools who use the grounds to practice, (4) is the premiere athletics facility in the Visayas where local, provincial, regional and national events are hosted—then it’s a no-brainer to conclude that we need to rivet a state-of-the-art oval now, right?

Right. And right now.

I hope that Mayor Tommy Osmeña, who hustled with an iron-fist for the CCSC stadium to be built in ’94, will, before his political term ends in May of next year, leave behind his beloved city not a dilapidated and embarrassing and injury-inducing sports facility but one that mirrors a brand-new face.

I hope that Acting Mayor Michael Lopez Rama, a lifelong fitness buff who runs 5K runs and is often seen dripping with healthy sweat at the Sports Center, will consider this an utmost priority. And, among all, let me add: VM Rama can deliver the biggest impact… according to newspaper reports, his surplus allocation is a huge P30 million.

I hope that Councilor Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba, the winningest basketball coach in possibly all of Philippine history, and whose many ballplayers use the track oval for cardiovascular workouts—will shoot for this.

I hope that Councilor Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem, one of the city’s top sports officials and one who publicly promised last September with the words, “I will make it a personal commitment to make sure we have a brand-new oval before my term ends,” will spearhead this effort among his esteemed colleagues.

I hope that Councilor Edgar Labella, another lifelong runner who arises at 4 each morning to run 20 circles around the oval for an 8-km. equivalent, will help persuade the 16-person City Council to contribute—possibly at P1.25 million per councilor to total P20 million—and make this a reality.

I hope that the Cebu City Sports Commission, whose members include the influential Michel Lhuillier (chairman) and city councilors Gerry Carillo, Joey Daluz, and the youthful Rengelle Pelayo—plus my sports-writing colleague, Nimrod Quiñones, who himself wrote an impassioned plea for a new oval at The Freeman—will act today.

I hope that we, fellow Cebuanos, will prod, sway and persuade our city leaders to act. And to act not next year—moments before the election to help sway our votes—but to act now.

Categorized as Cebu
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. Hi John,

    I hope you don’t mind, I created a “Cause” page on my Facebook account. I hope to recruit as many members as possible. This is an e-signature campaign to show to our top officials that Cebaunos wants the oval fixed!

    It really would be a shame and a waste if the oval was not saved.

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