What’s killing the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) on Vito Cruz and Taft Avenue in Manila?
Malls, that’s what is spelling death for the iconic 83-year-old stage for almost every sport in the Olympic calendar, at least before the inclusion of trampoline, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, to name a few that, surprisingly, have seemed to draw in television viewers in more recent editions of the quadrennial games.
The coup de grace to the sports complex will likely be delivered by an animal called “urban development program,” as one Metro Manila mayor was recently quoted as saying in a newspaper report as he pointed out that it is already “antiquated.”
The complex is being eyed by a big business developer as, again, what else but a hub for “commercial buildings, a mall and (thank you?) a sports museum (apparently an afterthought).”
When the grand plan to flatten the more than eight hectares of prime real estate that is the RMSC comes to pass, Philippine sports in general will have lost a symbol for post-war excellence of Filipino athletes and an accessible and free venue for competition and training for collegiate players of today and the future.
But it will have guaranteed for the country a podium finish in the race for mediocrity, partly because training, an important part of preparations of tracksters or swimmers for even the “lesser” regional and world tournaments, becomes a luxury as no Rizal Memorial Sports Complex is available anymore for them, gratis.
Well, they can settle for other places but they will have to pay for even entrance or toilet fees. Philippine sports honchos, of course, are not planning to make professional shoppers of our promising athletes by making them practice the sprints and the relays in lanes of the malls that seem to be popping up in many small and big cities in the Philippines, are they?
If they are, then by all means, sell it, sell it, that is the sports complex that, incidentally, is named after national hero Jose Rizal, who by historical accounts was quite an athlete himself.
Heroes don’t matter to “sports-minded” businessmen because the likes of Rizal are obviously very dead anyway, so why should they be bothered if they decided to “kill” Rizal, in particular, one more time?
These tycoons’ mindset being apparently the way it has been since the invention of the wheel, then sell it, sell it, the RMSC we mean, not whatever the businessmen have between their ears.
By selling the venerable sports complex that is already being drowned anyway by high-rises there, squatters’ colonies there, everybody will be happy, except the Filipino athlete and, we suppose, the people who have no say on what the overlords in Philippine sports and politics do as they please.
So, repeat after me, sell it, sell it!