Monday, November 25, 2019

Constructing the cauldron was not excessive

Many online have aired their disbelief at the price tag, and feel that the money could have been spent by the government on other needs, such as public school classrooms and further funding for local athletes.

What was supposed to be the landmark of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines has become the centerpiece of controversy in the host country days before the regional meet, as Filipino taxpayers question its P50-million price tag.

Senator Franklin Drilon, at a Senate hearing on Monday, November 18, also said as much.

The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) initially requested P9.5 billion for the hosting of the games, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved P7.5 billion. The Phisgoc itself raised the P1.5 billion through sponsorship.

For many Filipino netizens, it would not be on a gigantic kaldero (cauldron) for the torch-lighting ceremony of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) this December. However, the actual kaldero has already been built, and now sits in wait at the New Clark City in Tarlac.

For the design, the national artist was paid P4.4 million, although government seems to misrepresent that fact by insistently pointing out that the monument’s cost was largely because it is a work of art. While it is a work of art, there really isn’t much information on the structural integrity of this concrete torch and as to how faithful it is to Mañosa’s design. The artist earned his name for incorporating indigenous materials into modern design, and that much we may find wanting in the final version that Cayetano wants to sell.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay) himself said the cost was “imeldific,” and if he understood his adjective, he’d just pointed out the obscenity of the spending. Does the P50 million budget also cover the tower on which the cauldron was mounted or does it only cover the cauldron itself and its fuel contraptions?

The government spent some P18 million for a "mechanism" that would keep the game's symbolic flame burning for 11 days, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), earlier said.

Organizers have yet to clarify if the contraption was meant to be installed inside the cauldron's hollow space.

The government also shelled out some P7 million for the design and construction of the main cauldron, among the last pieces of national artist for architecture Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa before he passed away in February 2019.

Some P17 million was earmarked for the development of the structure's site.

Cayetano had said constructing the cauldron was "not excessive."

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Suspension of classes during SEA Games

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has recommended the suspension of classes in at least seven universities and colleges in Manila as part of its traffic management plans for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next month.

La Salle chancellor Br. Bernard S. Oca on Tuesday announced the development at the Manila campus "in view of activities directly connected" to the country's hosting of the SEA Games.

The approval will come from the Department of Education or the Commission on Higher Education but so far, none of the agencies has responded, MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said on Tuesday.

Classes and office work are likewise suspended in Benilde Manila and the Benilde Deaf School "due to the anticipated traffic conditions" during the SEA Games.

While the MMDA did not identify the schools where it had recommended the suspension of classes for the sport event, the Inquirer learned that these were the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Assumption College, Arellano School and Wesleyan College, all on Taft Avenue; St. Paul College Pasig and Poveda School, both in Pasig City.

One of the schools, however, De La Salle University (DLSU), announced that there would be no classes at its campus on Taft Avenue from Dec. 2 to 7 to give way to the SEA Games. DLSU officials said they would also limit access to the campus.

During the nearly two-week games, centerpiece events, like athletics and swimming, will be held at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, while the other major sporting events – like basketball, volleyball, and weightlighting – will be conducted in Metro Manila.

She said road closures were recommended around the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, including parts of Adriatico Street and Pablo Ocampo Street.

Since the current sales ban only covers weekdays, the MMDA also recommended banning sales on weekends for malls along EDSA and other SEA games routes, including billeting and sports venues.

At the Balintawak Toll Plaza, two dedicated toll lanes will be provided for SEA Games official vehicles. These lanes will be manned by NLEX traffic personnel.

When the vehicles reach the main NLEX thoroughfare, the convoy will go along the leftmost lane.

The agency has also coordinated with the Truckers’ Association of the Philippines to prohibit trucks from plying NLEX from 11 am to 6 pm on November 30. Truck drivers will make their deliveries earlier than 11 am.

The MMDA will also deploy 2,000 men to assist the convoys along yellow lanes.