URBAN RENEWAL: Iloilo poised to become prime tourist, biz haven

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NEW PARK IN THE CITY. Iloilo City’s newly restored Sunburst Park boasts of a wide public space, a walkway, a chess playground, park benches, and parking area. Originally known as Plaza de Aduana, it complements the Iloilo Esplanade in terms of providing the public open spaces where people can leisurely walk, exercise and enjoy the beauty of the environment, thus promoting a healthy and an active lifestyle. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – This city is undergoing an urban renewal and the restoration of Sunburst Park is part of it. It is only a matter of time before the metro becomes a prime tourist and business destination in the country, according to Ilonggo senator Franklin Drilon.

Yesterday, the renovated Sunburst Park, located in front of the century-old Iloilo Customs House, was turned over to the city government of Iloilo. Its renovation was part of Drilon’s Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project.

Sunburst Park is a wide public space with a walkway, a chess playground, benches, and parking area.

The Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project, conceptualized four years ago, aims to preserve iconic architecture and historical landmarks in Iloilo.

Ang Iloilo madamo gid ipakita in terms of our rich culture pero ginpabay-an naton sang pila ka tuig,” said Drilon.

The restoration of Sunburst Park, originally known as Plaza de Aduana, took several months.

“With this project, we hope to strike a balance between the economic success that we are experiencing now and our concern for the environment and our heritage,” said Drilon.

To give way to the restoration of Sunburst Park, the old Freedom Grandstand was demolished and reconstructed along the nearby Muelle Loney Street facing the Iloilo River.

With Drilon during the turnover yesterday was Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) chief operating officer Pocholo Joselito Paragas.

TIEZA oversaw the park’s restoration that cost P19.46 million.

Drilon suggested yesterday that the park be officially renamed to what it was once called, Plaza Aduana.

“Maybe the city council could study this,” he told Mayor Jose Espinosa III.

Plaza Aduana was renamed Sunburst Park in honor of the American 40th Infantry Division of the same nickname that liberated Iloilo City from the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

The renovated Sunburst Park complements the Iloilo River Esplanade – Drilon’s pet project which won the Best Landscape Architecture Award in 2018 – in terms of providing the public open spaces where people can leisurely walk, exercise and enjoy the beauty of the environment, thus promoting a healthy and an active lifestyle for Ilonggos.

Other heritage buildings restored under the Iloilo Heritage and Urban Renewal Project were the old Iloilo Customs House (also called Aduana); the nearby Elizalde Building; and the Ker and Co. Building.

Next month, the newly renovated Elizalde Building would be opened to the public.

“We converted it into a museum of Iloilo’s economic history,” Drilon said.

The museum would show how Iloilo was earlier known as the “Queen City of the South” because of its flourishing trade and commerce, and how the city has endeavored to bring the back the city to its old glory.

“We will continue to create more public spaces so that we can further promote the city as a truly walkable and livable city, and a model for environment and heritage preservation,” Drilon said./PN

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