Night Flesh Market

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By Jun Ledesma


Friday, April 11, 2014

OSMEÑA Park used to be the prime park in Davao City. This was during the time when the venerable Vicente Duterte was governor of the undivided Davao. There used to be a mini-zoo which provided simple delight to the city residents as well as visitors from other provinces. I was among the hoi polloi who would frequent the place.

What is now the legislative building used to be the provincial capitol. There the patriarch of Davao’s most respected political leaders, the Duterte family, held office with the most austere necessities which is still the norm of those who came after the venerable governor. The governor is known to be extremely frugal. Corruption was never ever thought of or written during his watch. When he needed cool air, he would just open the windows in his room. The vegetation around the capitol was lush enough to bring down temperature even in the hottest of summers.

But times have changed. Long before the children and grandchildren of Gov. Vicente Duterte were drawn and drafted into politics by forces of circumstance and soon after Davao province was divided into three, the capitol was converted into the city legislative building. The political subdivisions altered not only the discipline and moral standards that exuded from the capitol where once Vicente Duterte governed but also the physical landscape of Osmeña Park.


The city leaderships supplant everything that the governor painstakingly put up and replaced these with their own concept of how a park should look like: instead of live animals, cement molded creatures, they cut down mahoganies to give way to kiosks, in lieu of grass cover a wide swath of bare, muddy or dusty earth punctuated with hollow blocks and concrete and dilapidated seats here and there. There was an attempt to put up a tiny replica of ethnic houses but the city planners just could not make up their minds whether it will be a resting place for vagabonds or as tourism spectacle. It’s a hodgepodge of anything and everything that comes out from the petty whims of the architects of change which had nothing but commerce in their minds.

Even if it was rustic in the past, the park used to be a place where families spent their time like it was the best place to go for family bonding. No longer. The colorful birds are long gone and in their place “mga batang kalapati na mababa ang lipad”. The four-legged animals which used to offer priceless delights to adults and children are long gone and in their place derelicts and vagabonds who inhabit the kiosks by night time.

Before you see elderly women exchanging gossips while picking lice from their uncut tresses, these days you see ambulant vendors, masseurs and manicurists rumored to be “Mama Sangs” by night. Osmeña Park has become a veritable flesh market.

The P300-thousand peso-lighting project that would have illumined the dark corners of the park had long broken down, by the looks of them, they were substandard. Either that or these were intentionally busted to conceal the iniquities that are wantonly taking place in the park.

Prostitution happens with impunity even as the park is right in front of the elite San Pedro Police Station. Is it because some cops have a little of this and a little of that from the “services” clandestinely offered by those who appeared to have the exclusive franchise on the park? My gosh! The area is under the noses of the city legislators and for Almighty’s insult is right in front of the biggest catholic cathedral in Mindanao. What a despicable shame.

The flesh market goes on unabated. The moment dusk settles they do it inside a “patadiong or malong”. When total darkness comes it provides a virtual mantle for child prostitutes and their clients to do their thing. Who knows, but maybe drugs are sold too in the cover of the night. All these happen in a city where CCTVs are sprouting like mushrooms.

It is obvious that the perpetrators of this bestiality and unconscionable shenanigans have mistaken the kindness of the heart of the Dutertes for the poor. But while the virtue of kindness of the present city leadership is not diminished it is never weak when it comes to dealing with crime and grave abuse. And the offenders cannot hide in the cloak of poverty.

It is about time City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, puts an end to this decadence. Save the children, mayor, and after that, give Osmeña Park back to the people.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 12, 2014.


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