New ‘Freedom Park’ set to serve original purpose

·3 min read

MODERNIZATION alongside the preservation of history and culture.

This is why the Cebu City Government and a private developer are keen on restoring the century-old Freedom Park at the downtown area to its original glory.

Mayor Michael Rama and executives of the Megawide Construction Corp. (MCC) led the ceremonial groundbreaking for the development of the park on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022.

Located on Magallanes St. near the Carbon Public Market, Freedom Park used to be an open space for Cebuanos to enjoy and an area for demonstrations or protests.

The park was originally part of friar lands owned by the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) before it was acquired by the City in 1880.

Historian Jose Eleazar Bersales said American troops occupied the park in 1899 and installed a military barrack named after Maj. Oliver Warwick.

After the Second World War, the park became a venue for candidates to hold campaign rallies in the 1950s and 1960s, thus the word “freedom” in its name.

In the ‘70s, during the Martial Law period when rallies and protests were banned, the park transformed into a street market for flowers, baskets and other products.

Now, with the joint-venture agreement of the MCC and Cebu City Government for the modernization of Carbon market, Freedom Park will be restored to serve its original purpose.

Rama said transforming Freedom Park into what it was before is part of the Singapore-like Cebu City vision of his administration.

“We need to bring back the foundation. We deserve order and authority being observed and we should have a beautiful environment including everything about human existence,” said Rama.

Cebu2World president Louie Ferrer said the park will be open to the public in October and will feature a tall obelisk at the center.

The development of Freedom Park is part of the P8-billion investment that the MCC is pouring in for the modernization of the Carbon Public Market complex.

The 2,000-square-meter park also used to be a venue where people peacefully debated about different topics, such as religion and politics.

Ferrer said they are hoping that these kinds of activities will return once the park will be restored.

The park’s restoration will somewhat serve as a corporate social responsibility project of the MCC since the company will not gain profit from the initiative, he added.

“We want the Cebuanos to rest here. We want the park to welcome everyone who goes to Carbon market,” said Ferrer in Cebuano.

Historical artifacts

During the initial construction works for the park, the Cebu City Historical Affairs Commission unearthed more than 700 artifacts consisting of trade ware porcelain from China, butchered animal bones and marine-harvested shells that can be dated back to the late 1500s onward to the 1800s.

The findings suggest that the old Freedom Park was once used as a coastal settlement and Cebuanos were actively involved in maritime trading.

The collected artifacts will be turned over to the repositories of the National Museum of the Philippines.

The Archaeological Impact Assessment of the park is a requirement under Republic Act 10066, or the National Culture Heritage Law.