While having lunch, my wife Marj was listening to a speech delivered by Senator Pia Cayetano answering allegations on the building of sports facilities becoming white elephants.
I was already thinking of writing my column for Edge Davao after seeing the post of Prof.Henry C. Daut, a indefatigable co-worker in the Sports for Peace Mindanao movement, about the ongoing construction of a beautiful rubberized track oval at the Mindanao State University campus in Marawi City.
Senator Cayetano, herself a former national athlete, is fully aware of the situation and so she lauded the construction of modern sports facilities in the country under the Duterte administration that led to the successful hosting of the Southeast Asian Games. The building of the sports facilities is now well supported with a sports program because of the creation of the National Academy of Sports.
You see, the problem with sports facilities becoming white elephants has become a common scene years back simply because there is the absence of a genuine and comprehensive sports development program.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, himself a member of the academe, has been calling for this for many years because it is the only way to sustain a major sports facility.
You construct a sports facility, track oval like the one in Marawi City. If there is no sports program to support such an expensive facility, no organization to maintain it, no sports association to run a sports program, then it would be a shame because that facility will become “bulok” in the long run. Nasayang lang ang mga paningkamot sa tanan to build that facility. And what will Mayor Digong, the President of this strong Republic, PSC chairman Ramirez, Dr.Habib Macaayong and the people in Marawi, Lanao and their neighbouring towns and cities will say? “Na white elephant gyud”. We don’t want to hear that, never!
That is why these days, you will notice that local governments tie up with universities that offer sports degree courses. It is the best partnership.
The Davao City Sports Complex, which hosted the Palarong Pambansa, was built at the University of Philippines-Mindanao campus. As long as Prof. Erwin Protacio is alive, there is one sports official with the “malasakit” who will keep a close eye on that facility. And if there are things to be done to improve it, I’m sure he will make a “sumbong” to Congressman Sid Ungab, a staunch sports supporter, or worse, Prof. Protacio will report directly to Mayor Inday Sara if there is one “badlongon” in sports, aron ma sumbagan ba (komedya lang Mayor Inday, puwede pud tinod on).
Pare Dennis “Mr.Sports Complex” Lazo, then with Bombo Radyo, has been very noisy for many years in the 1990s as to why the City of Davao has no sports complex, unlike other cities and provinces. He will even go to the extent of asking news sources during the interview, in a jokingly fashion, if they are willing to donate a sports complex to Davao City. Natuman na imong mga pangandoy pare Dennis Rivera Lazo, so okay na.
As the years go by, we have little by little become mature in the sports community.
We have a strong private sector to support government sports programs and that has benefitted athletes, coaches, trainors, BBQ saging, ice water, ice candy vendors.
I could not forget PSC chairman Ramirez teaching us that sports development is as basic as food, clothing, shelter and health care. That teaching has been written in our hearts and our minds and that is precisely, we will be fuming mad if there is exploitation and abuse done to the sports community.
Once that track oval is fully operational in Marawi City, that will definitely change the course of sports development in the Bangsa Moro land.
A world-class facility in a once war-torn area that would bring all sports lovers together.
Would that be a beautiful sight?
Of course, it would be.
Prof.Henry, although officially retired as MSU professor, will have his hands full again because he will be one sports official who will keep a watchful eye on that facility.
And someday, the kids playing there will become friends and if they go their separate ways, become good citizens of the Republic, will one day give something back to sports because sports has made them better Filipinos.
“Ngano barilon man nako na siya nga kadula man mi ana tung bata pa mi?”
You see my point?