An appeal to Tommy, Mike, our city councilors

Let’s act. Now. With the funds of the South Road Properties (SRP) about to enter the Cebu City government’s bank accounts in the coming months, can we get a commitment from Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Acting Mayor Michael Rama and our Cebu City Councilors to repair our Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) track oval this 2009? Please?

The Abellana grounds (as many still refer to our facility) is the lone sports complex of our city. I repeat: The. Only. Sports. Complex. In. Cebu. City.

And, are we not the city that’s envied by our neighbors from all over the Philippines? Don’t the words “Cebu City,” when mentioned to foreigners from Alabama to Madrid to Zurich, evoke a positive image that leads many to prefer visiting our Sinulog and bathing in our Mactan beaches more than any other RP town? Are we not The Queen City of the South, the capital of the Visayas and Mindanao? In the arts? In the academe? In super-malls and shopping complexes? In commerce? In music?

In sports? Yes, we are. Because we are CEBU CITY. We’re proud of our history, our resilience from typhoons like Ruping, our independence from Imperial Manila. We’re Cebuanos.

How many times, in the 23 years that I’ve resided in this city since our family moved from Bacolod, have I heard classmates from Manila, vacationers from Los Angeles, California, entrepreneurs from Makati, all say, “We love and want to reside in Cebu.”

Because we’re Cebu City. Proud Cebu City.

Sad to say, when we speak of sports—of the lone athletics complex of our land—there is only one line to utter: It stinks! Not literally. But, if you replace your sense of smell and open your eyes, you will see that our CCSC track oval is crumbling. It’s dilapidated. It’s decaying. It’s impaired. Corrugated “snake-like” lines have formed. Creases have sprouted. Wrinkles, erupted. Today, our track oval is a 93-year-old man enveloped with wrinkles.

Proud? Is this Cebu City? Our Cebu City?

CAMPAIGN. Last Thursday night, a group of nearly 40 individuals representing the academe, the running clubs and the Dep-Ed met.

Bernard Ricablanca of UC was there. Ryan Aznar of SWU joined. So did Honorato Conpin. Bro. Carlo Bacalla of Don Bosco-Pasil came. Dr. Danilo Villadolid, one of the most respected names in Cebu athletics, sat on his appointed chair. Cathy Vestil, the charming Athletics Director of the Cebu Doctors’ University, smiled. The University of San Jose Recoletos’ Dioscoro Himotos entered.

Jesse Taborada, the president of the Cebu Executives Runners Club, was accompanied by his CERC members Barry Marquez, Raffy Osumo, Harthy Satina, Meyrick Jacalan and Raffy Uytiepo. The CRRC’s Blas Hipulan dared not miss the event.

Dr. Yong Larrazabal joined. So did Alex Ong, Charlie Berberio, Roel Militar, Danny Eraño, Se King, Bobby Lozada, Charles Jayme, Josie Vergara, Alma Albaño, Rey Duque, Jofre Nastor, and Brian Bon. The Rotary Club of Cebu West’s Andrew Jimenez arrived. Same with top coaches Berto Banzon and his brother, the president of UTAFA, Ilde. So did the 4th placer at the Hong Kong Half-Marathon race, Mendel Lopez. Atty. Mike Yu, a former 800-meter competitor, arrived. Nimrod Quiñones was there. Same with my editor, Mike Limpag.

Most of all, there was Ricky Ballesteros, the executive director of the Sinulog Foundation and the manager of the CCSC.

Ricky spoke. Yong spoke. I spoke. So did Dr. Villadolid. Plenty shared their sentiments. Many voiced their comments. Suggestions were aired. In the end, we were unanimous. We launched a signature campaign whose purpose is to urge, to convince—and, if needed, to plead—our city leaders to fix the CCSC oval.

Not next year. Not five years from now on the 20th death anniversary of the oval. But to repair the track this year.

We hope to raise 6,000 signatures. Maybe, 12,500. If possible, 33,838. Or more. Each line will bear not only a Cebuano’s name and signature—but a special prayer: For our leaders to listen.

Please, we ask, do not run away from our running oval.

Categorized as Cebu City
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!

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