FROM ASTRODOME TO ASTROTOMB
By ROGER M. BALANZA
The funniest post-Halloween news we got in Davao City is this news circulated in text messaging about a plan by the local government to convert a mothballed P300 million sports center into a mausoleum and its surrounding area a public cemetery.
Some jokers have suggested the Artica Sports Center also known as Artica Astrodome be renamed as Artica AstroTomb.
The completion of the sports center, a large structure sitting on a hill at the outskirts of the city started in 1999, was stopped after the election of 2001 after comebacking Mayor Rodrigo Duterte trounced Mayor Benjamin de Guzman.
During the campaign period, the half-completed sports center was in the middle of corruption charges levelled against de Guzman, Duterte’s former ally turned foe, who allegedly refused to honor an agreement to serve only one term for Duterte to return to City Hall in 2001.
The Duterte campaign zeroed in on alleged anomalies in the construction, and with a large billboard with the building’s photo hung on the campaign stage, the mayor regaled the crowd by pointing out defects in the building, spicing it up with jokes about de Guzman’s inability to lead the city.
The Artica AstroTomb, err, astrodome, has since been lying idle with the mayor vowing not to complete the project.
The sports center that Duterte once tagged as de Guzman’s “monument of corruption” may indeed be soon converted to a “monument for the dead” given that the city’s is in bad need of new cemeteries the existing ones now exploding with overpopulation the dead squirm at loud noises when humans—by local tradition—spend whole-night vigils during Halloween at cemeteries.
With this, the local government may find use for this idle building and may even have itself land in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the biggest mausoleum in the world if the Artica AstroTomb and its 5,000 square meter floor area is converted into a monument for the dead.