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Let’s waltz back into the 50s and 60s: Scrapping our public sports venues (Those happy places etched forever in our memories)

Part 14

A game-ending strike-out at the home plate with bases loaded at the bottom of the 9th or a woozy pugilist sprawled on the canvas, bloodied, senseless and counted out by the referee signalling a KO.

These are illustrative depictions of the tragic endings of the lives and times of the various sports venues around the city. Just proves that sports is dispensable when it comes to government priorities, easily pushed to the corner like a meek lamb on its way to the altar of sacrifice. Sports as well as the physical facility itself comprise the entire package in promoting health, discipline and sportsmanship for the players. To the avid spectators, it is watching a live, exciting competition, relieving and cushioning the daily stress and tension from the monotonous drudgery and boredom of life.

Sports is leisure and recreation time that keeps kids off the streets, gangs and drugs and benefits society big time in the end. Keeping a few hours off from TV and straining one’s eyes from long and intense use of mobile phones would add up to its bountiful benefits.

What we have seen in the last few decades were the tearing down of various public sports venues, specially tennis courts and in their places, the construction of new government buildings, schools and offices to house the high officials and employees in the administration of government functions.

In the late 80s, we saw the fall of the dead-center-of-town, Capitol Tennis Club, just across the San Pedro Cathedral. The two hard courts were a huge attraction for the everyday racket-wielding folks, blue collared, mid income sportsmen. Then from out of left field came the heart- piercing news that the old Capitol building and the adjoining 2 concrete courts had to give way to the construction of a modern edifice. Ultimately, the twin courts were demolished and in their place the new Sangguniang Panlungsod Building rose from the graveyard of the facility.

A block away was the iconic Magallanes Tennis Club which had seen happier days since the 40’s. It had a hard concrete court and a soft bounce, low impact shell court, a good turf mix to offer the young and elderly the choice which court favors their physical condition. It was a great place, with a long history of lively memories, profused with unforgettable matches, get-togethers and laughter through the years. But decades of legal wranglings with the city and school authorities on the issue of ownership was the sword of Damocles hanging over its head.

When the school prevailed, they had to tear down the facility and a new Magallanes school building was erected on its place, sending away a few hundred dejected member-players to search for other playing venues.

The PTA grounds was our biggest and famous sports arena along Camus and Palma Gil Sts. having hosted national sports competitions, international shows and events for more than 7 decades. After a lengthy deliberation by city officials, it was transformed into People’s Park, with an aesthetically designed mini forest, a much-needed lung in the city that absorbs pollution in our high density traffic conditions. It also offered a track oval for health-conscious folks. Twin hard courts along Camus St side offered a great playing field for daily club matches and tournaments with a homey and comfy club canteen, sandwiched by the two ends of the courts.The club had high rated players who carried the club’s image in inter club tournaments. But the courts never had a chance as they were summarily stricken out of the grand plan and interred into their graveyards.

A new day dawned for the city tennis buffs when two concrete courts were opened in Sandawa, SIR area adjacent to a small market, just a block off Quimpo Blvd. Hundreds of displaced city players whose sport facilities were demolished trooped over to the new habitat. But it was just short lived as the city’s grandiose plan called for the demolition of the courts and paved the construction of new buildings that housed the Public Safety and Security Command Center ( PSSC) and the Davao 991 Emergency Center. To be continued

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