Seares: We didn't know or we just forgot: 1. Noah's on land owned by Cebu City, which wants to keep on using it. 2. Capitol now uses CCQC site, city-owned before, to assail land swap.

·4 min read

Tale of 2 quarantine sites

WDK/WJF: NOAH'S LAND. Three hectares of land at South Road Properties where Noha, one of Cebu City's quarantine center, has been located, are still owned by the City Government.

The lot was leased by Bigfoot Global Solutions, owner of Bigfoot Studios, in 2007 for 25 years, meaning the lease wouldn't expire until 2032. It was not disclosed how much rent Bigfoot has been paying; only the fact that it was "expected to pay in advance" P25 million in rent.

Whatever the exact rent, it must have been not stiff since Bigfoot promised huge development in the area that would've boosted the SRP value, increased city tax incomes and created thousands of jobs. It promised a 15-hectare development, including a mega yacht club, an all-in-one leisure and commercial facility. The leased three-hectare was just initially a sound stage for its film and television academy expansion. All that prospect of business, plus the fact that the Bigfoot owner and then mayor Tomas Osmeña were friends.

Forward to 2020 and 2021 and not much of the promise was kept. Even the studio was empty. When Noah, through city officials, asked to use the property as quarantine center site, Bigfoot agreed.

But when Noah asked for an extension, until a month or so later, Bigfoot refused. Noah will vacate the property this May 30. The firm is also expected to refuse the planned request of Vice Mayor Michael Rama, chairman of the city's Vaccine Convenors, to use the site as another vaccination center.

Some kind of irony here: the lessor having to plead with the lessee regarding the use of the leased land.

'Argument for rescission'

WDK/WJF: CITY QC ON CAPITOL LOT. The Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) was opened on April 25, 2020, billed then as "the biggest and most sophisticated quarantine facility built by a local government in the country." Budgeted at P200 million, the CCQC cost only half the amount, or so claimed City Hall. Private groups must have pitched in, as it was then a season of giving during a public health crisis.

The problem was that theoretically, the quarantine facility sits on province-owned land, no longer the property of the City Government. Block 27 at the North Reclamation Area was reportedly among the real properties Cebu City had swapped for Cebu Province lots under the 93-1 agreement.

Good or bad? For the city, the lot was useful as quarantine site during the pandemic. For the province, it proved to be useful in its move to rescind the 83-1 land swap. Capitol lawyers now argue that the re-taking of Block 27 by the city constituted "constructive rescission" on its part.

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Long names, short memory

The people being served by government usually complain about delay and shortage of services, more sharply during the pandemic. They hardly complain about the long names of government offices. They show their anger or disgust by not using them.

Example: Who ever mentions the isolation facility Noah by its full name? "Taxi, take me to New Oasis for Adaptation and a Home." How many understand what it means? People have to Google to remember from schooldays what oasis is. And "oasis" is a big promise -- refuge or relief, which one's home may not provide. No wonder why some Noah patients, expecting a lot from the facility because of its name, complained about allegedly deficient services. Why "adaptation" and "a home"? One may adapt to the oasis and call it his home?

The heavier baggage for the user is the length of the name. People use Noah but to that name sticks the image of the biblical character who saved the land animals from a great flood by building the Ark at God's command.

Metaphors to some of us can be tough.

NDRRMC or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council used to be NDCC or National Disaster Coordinating Council: from four letters to six in the acronym and from four words to seven in the full name. Why the need for the words "risk reduction" when any government agency on disasters is never assumed to work for increasing the danger of property damage or loss of people's lives? If it "coordinates," does it not necessarily "manage"?

The quarantine facility's naming problem is less annoying as it offers the shorter, easier-to-remember alternative, Noah, to its kilometric full name.

NDRRMC, the shorthand for the seven-word disaster council, contains six letters, which taxes not just the memory but also the tongue. The US federal agency is Fema or Federal Emergency Management Agency. In England, it is even shorter: CCS or Civil Contingencies Secretariat.

Whoever coins names and acronyms in our government offices and agencies need to study the skill and art for it. Noah's full name is not as disastrous as the disaster agency's acronym and full name. Yet Noah's full name pales in comparison to Citom's full name, which would've been an example of excellent naming were it not for its obviously narcissistic and "epal" indications.

Names and acronyms shouldn't distract the public from judging on its merit the office or agency. Unfortunately, it often does.

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