Where’s our plaza?

A marker in Sta Rosa reminding its visitor of the infamous massacre of Samar

A marker in Sta Rosa's plaza reminding its visitor of the infamous massacre of Samar

Most of our plaza’s are sadly neglected and unsafe. Local government usually do some cleaning from time to time, especially on important occasions, mostly political meetings. No wonder these places have become notorious for crime activities, defeating the purpose why they were built in the first place.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these open spaces lately, looking at some old photos, you can’t help but think back. Keeping it safe and clean is one thing, making it relevant to the people is another. Old plaza’s are rich in history, these social spaces are important components of our old towns.

If only the old plazas could talk it will tell us what it had witnessed. In Cebu, they’ve excavated Plaza Independencia (one of our oldest) and found astonishing discoveries, from prehispanic remains to Spanish coins to WWII bombs. The treasures found was literally a narration of the Filipino evolution. In just one portion they uncovered early 1900’s vintage bottles together with what looks like ancient coffins. Though the plaza remains neglected (the excavation was accidentally uncovered byDPWH personnels) the recent Plaza Independencia discoveries just showed us how important these places are to our history.

Picture taken of the remains of a prehispanic native.

Picture taken of the remains of a prehispanic native.

Earthen wares

Earthen wares

Assorted bottles. DPWH personnels sougth the assistance of Museo Nacional and USC to excavate all these items after theyve accidental uncovered the site.

Assorted vintage bottles. DPWH personnels sougth the assistance of Museo Nacional and USC to excavate all these items after they've accidental uncovered the site.

More items from the plaza. The uncovered treasures were all exhibited in USC months later.

More items from the plaza. The uncovered treasures were all exhibited in USC months later.

Another plaza that I recently visited is that of Sta.Rosa in Laguna, although not a trace of its past can be seen, it is clean but the park vandals had already left their graffiti on some of the walls. I’m not sure where the local government that rebuilt the plaza based their lay out, it’s poorly conceived as the parks elevation has partially blocked Santa Rosa’s church. The landscape should be connecting all; the cabildo, Iglesia, school and the plaza – to separate them would be a mistake, since this  blueprint was conceived with bringing the people closer to the government and the church, its history lies on how it was established. According to Fr. Arcilla some of these complex was planned to endure typhoons and earthquakes. Of course state and church is a world away from each other today (is it?) but this does not mean that what was established before should also be divided.

If there is anything that impressed me about the plaza of Sta. Rosa is these commemoration plaques made of marble that you’ll find in these tall cemented post designed like bamboos, Written are important events in our history, though some were already badly vandalized, it still serves as a very good education tool. Same experience I had in Plaza Independencia, although its grounds now serves as temporary shelter for the homeless, the monument built to honor Legazpi still stands. I learned a thing or two about our history just by walking around these plazas. These parks can remind people about the historic and victorious struggles of our ancestors. I think its time to return it back to the people.

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