By Marilou M. Aguirre
Old PTA grounds, which used to host athletic meets and sports events in the city, has just been turned into a People’s Park, where one can find a collection of tropical rainforest trees or enjoy a fantasy-themed park with the children, free of charge.
Engr. Elisa Madrazo, head of the Park’s project management office, said these are just one of the features of Davao city’s four-hectare People’s Park, which opened here over the weekend to add to the city’s major attractions.
She said the park’s five interconnected avenues are planted with an estimated 1,101 species of plants and trees from the rainforests of the Philippines, Southeast Asia , Australia, New Guinea, South and Central America, and Africa and Madagascar.
Of the park’s over four-hectare land area, almost 10, 000 square meters are allotted to plants, Madrazo said. Horticulturist groups, like the Orchid Society of Davao and the Mindanao Federation of Cutflowers, are also invited to display their plants whole-year round, she said.
The 71-million peso development of the PTA Park, which started in July last year, is one of the flagship projects of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. “The park will become a landmark of Davao city in the future,” said Madrazo.
The park also showcases a 425-square meter visitors’ center built with a durian dome design, which houses a Bambusetum (a collection of the different species of bamboo); a Shady Plaza where African tulips are planted within the 3, 750 sq. meter-area; and an Open Plaza with a walk-through rainbow drive featuring some collections of potted palms.
A pond with a diameter of 16 meters will be built with an interactive falls, so called because its water effects move or dance with the music; and a dancing fountain, the first in Mindanao.
Performances and outdoor entertainment will be hosted in The Great Lawn or Green Theater, which features a collection of pine trees already grown in the city.
Joggers and health buffs will continue to enjoy the PTA’s old oval, which is renamed “The Promenade;” while the old swimming pool will be turned into a Sunken Garden. The Greenhouse Museum will also feature exhibits, showcasing orchids, tropical flowers and ornamentals coming from the mountainous regions in the Philippines.
People will also enjoy the piped-in music at the park, or the 10-meter high waterfalls with a pond made of volcanic rocks. Since parks are mostly visited by families, a fantasy-themed park is designed especially for children.
As part of security measures, the park also has its built-in surveillance system. Madrazo said eight monitoring cameras will be installed in strategic places and security personnel will be deployed.
Park goers can enjoy all these park amenities, free of charge, according to Madrazo. “This is part of the local government’s intentions to make it the People’s Park,” she said.
Madrazo said the project is already 90 percent complete. Its full operation is set in January next year or anytime within the first quarter. The Park made a soft opening during the Kadayawan festival in August.
Madrazo said everybody is welcome to look around and visit the park. A number of excursionists, members of the academe, government employees and officials coming from the different regions and provinces in Mindanao have already visited the place as part of the Lakbay-Aral program. Local television networks have also been using the park as the venue for various entertainment programs on air.
But Madrazo is worried that some people might vandalize the park. She said some park properties were damaged during its soft opening in August.
“Plants were destroyed and trees were climbed upon by the park-goers,” she said. She urged park goers to be more responsible. “Otherwise, this park will turn into just like another park, where comfort rooms and other properties are destroyed,” she said. “I hope that residents of Davao will regard this park as their own property.”
Of the 918 entries for the “Name Davao’s New Park Contest,” Mayor Duterte finally chose the entry naming it the People’s Park. (Marilou M. Aguirre/davaotoday.com)