By: Alex P. Vidal
“I’m the kind of person who would have liked to have lived at the Plaza. I love crystal chandeliers and gold leaf, velvets and mirrors, Oriental rugs and marble.” – Candace Bushnell
WE laud the Treñas administration for its recent decision to free Iloilo City’s public plazas from “eyesores” that branch out during annual fiestas and other religious and cultural festivities.
There should be no need actually for any law to prevent “ukay-ukay” and “trade fairs” from destroying the aesthetics of our plazas
Common sense tells us that these spaces aren’t for commercial use but act as a focal point for the civic and social life of a city, a place where impromptu gatherings, people watching and even, political discourse all naturally intersect.
Also, we laud the Treñas administration’s attempt to collaborate with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the rehabilitation of the public plazas.
It’s about time.
Our public plazas – from the City Proper’s Plaza Libertad to the districts of Bo. Obrero, Arevalo, Mandurriao, Jaro, and La Paz – have been neglected and abused since time immemorial, and no local government administration has initiated a dramatic move to even free and protect them from vandals and commercial activities that defeat the purpose why they were built.
Central plazas and squares play a crucial role in successful urban areas.
When neglected or designed poorly, they can act as a black hole, sucking the life out of a city center.
Most colonial cities in Spanish America and the Philippines were planned around a square plaza de armas, where troops could be mustered, as the name implies, surrounded by the governor’s palace and the main church.
A plaza de toros is a bullring.
The term plaza is a Spanish word, cognate to an Italian piazza, Portuguese praça, Galician praza, Catalan plaça, Romanian piața, German Platz and French place (which has also been borrowed into English).
The origin of all these words is, via Latin platea, from Greek plateia (hodos), meaning “broad (way or street)” thus even the creation of Presidential Decree 1216, which provides that parks are for public use and therefore “beyond the commerce of men”, was no longer necessary if we only use common sense.
Rob Dyrdek once reminded us that “The evolution of the plaza always came from the idea of just a really good place to ride a skateboard that you could ride at any time, and that’s what the foundation always stands for – being a place that’s free, open and legal… for those that are technical, to do really hard stuff, and for those who are learning, to just have fun.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)