Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Magsaysay Park - Green Lung in the Old City

Davao City, Philippines - Before the advent of pop art venues, dance clubs, cooled out malls and coffee shops, Davaoenos trooped to the park by the bay – Magsaysay Park. Laidback and unassuming, this park, located near Santa Ana Wharf, in one of the older turfs of the city with crumbling shops, is the metropolis’ green lung. The supply of fresh air seems limitless, what with the constant supply of breeze coming from the Gulf of Davao from the east. 

 The crux of this public park rises at the northern corner, an 82-feet (25 meters) tri-pillar monolith that houses the statue of the Philippines’ third President, Ramon Magsaysay (one of the country’s beloved Presidents who perished in a helicopter crash in Cebu). President Magsaysay’s likeness has been standing here since July 31, 1960 when the region’s veterans turned over what could be this district’s most familiar landmark.

Sadly, homage isn't synonymous with maintenance, and slabs of this concrete structure are starting to fall piece by piece. Nearby is an open-air amphitheater that’s seen better days. This could very well be Davao’s smaller version of Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre in New York had there been artistic programs that would support this medium, but of course, I am wishful thinking.

Teens are seen practicing their dance moves nearby, while the sea breeze billows through leaves of grass (move over, Walt Whitman).

President Ramon Magsaysay

There is a skating rink, a fad that has since lost its crowd, thus the concrete lies like a structure who has lost its cause. There’s a Ferris wheel decked in the most eye catching colors. Meanwhile, the sea wall provides a languorously relaxing traipse into melancholia – or inspiration, whichever mood you’re in. The water that goes eastward start out shallow until the reflection of the dark sea bed soon turns blue, onward where one could see Samal Island. It is there where leisure now equates with cash.

The view of the shore is uneven: blue waters, dark sand, huge cargo ships, fishing bancas, and houses on stilts all punctuate the view. As we turn back inland, we find a chapel – Nuestra Senora del Pilar, with its eye-catching blue mural, cream-colored benches with blue bases. Marian devotes are supposed to regularly visit for “peace, prosperity and good health”, but all we see beyond the gates are people sitting under the shade. I, of course, couldn’t wait to offer my own selfish intentions before heading further south to where the Children’s Playground is. It features concrete slides and a rotating platform that looked unscrewed, among others.

The benches nearby look inviting in their mint green-and-red paint. Young lovers populate them mostly. Further south are government offices, a tourism center and a radio station. There’s a restaurant and a “canteen” in the vicinity. Ambulant vendors sell mangoes, guavas and papayas. A limited parking space is provided at the southern part of the park.

Near the west entrance, facing the Chinese Arch, is a Pamathalaan Marker (installed on September 21, 1997), which symbolizes the God-centered frame of mind of the Mindanao folks. Designed by National Artist Napoleon Abueva, its placement beside the gate feels undeserved. People mostly ignore it. But if you take the time to look at it, the statue (funded by Philippine Tourism Authority) tells an interesting story. Think of “alamats” (legends) and folk heroes. Better placed is a statue of the Durian fruit, standing on a pedestal. But why view a concrete fruit when there are literally hundreds of real ones being sold just outside the gates?

This is the Eye in the Sky!


Dancing away.


By the seawall.

David and Goliath?
Samal Island beckons

Not fishing. They're actually "collecting" fingerlings and fries.

A banca (outrigger boat) stationed near the houses on stilts.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar

Colorful benches

The sweetest of loves are those from the young?

Concrete slide (two of them)

Stair to the slides

Marvic's Ferris Wheel

Does it look safe? I feel as though it would disintegrate once I step inside it. :)

Skating rink

An Abueva art work called "Pamathalaan" circa 1997 (above and below).

Limited parking inside the park.


My Unfinished Life said...

beautiful park that needs some upkeep...

i have heard about ramon magsasay..he was a great person


eye in the sky said...

@ shooting star:

I am glad you've heard of Ramon Magsaysay. The Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Price was named after him too. :)