(CEBU CITY – Public Information Office) One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Queen City of the South is Plaza Independencia.
This historical site is strategically located between Fort San Pedro and Casa del Gobierno de Visayas which was used as the Provincial Capitol until 1938.
Several excavations have been conducted in the place and at the adjacent areas of the Plaza, which have yielded tremendous information about the pre-colonial trading port called Sugbu. These include the 1984 excavation conducted by the University of Michigan and the 2000 and 2006 excavations conducted by the national museum.
Four centuries of human activity combined with the forces of nature and the elements have raised the site by an average of two meters from its original surface.
Excavations at that dept have unearthed burial sites with earthen ware and ceramics from China, Thailand and Vietnam marking pre-colonial trading.
In 1971, the excavations of the University of San Carlos inside Forth San Pedro yielded Ming Dynasty blue and white China as well as Thai ceramics dating back from the year 1368 and the 1500s multicultural trading, migrations, upheavals.
Only the age-old acacia trees dotting the area stand as silent witnesses to the many phases and events that once took place in this historical and cultural landmark of Cebu.
The Plaza Independencia has been called by a number of names. In 1600 it was known a Plaza de Armas when it served as a public square for military training and parade grounds. Later it was called Plaza Mayor when it was expanded to include the area near the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Once, it was called Plaza Maria Cristina in honor of the then Queen Regent of Spain.
When the Americans came, the name was changed to Plaza Libertad to commemorate the Liberty of our Filipino ancestors against the Spanish rule.
With the turns of events in our country, it became known as Plaza Independencia, a tribute to Philippine independence. But like so many parts of the City, Plaza Independencia has not been spaced by urban decay. For many years, more and more people heed a widely negative perception of the area sighting many concerns, safety and security especially.
Today, however with the emerging concept of urban space rehabilitation, many old cities and areas in the world has been revitalized.
The city government’s step to rehabilitate Plaza Independencia is a response to the changing times, paving towards a more humane environment in the city.
In 2007, Plaza Independencia was temporarily closed to the public because of the tunnel construction beneath it. The grand old lady of all parks all over the Philippines became a haven for furtive activities at night. She had lost all her attractions becoming, instead, a place to be avoided even feared.
In order to restore its old glory, the Cebu City government has allocated a Php20 Million budget for its rehabilitation. This project started right after the completion of the tunnel last November 8, 2010.
The century-old site has been refurbished with a modern design more attuned to the changing lifestyle of the Cebuanos and better equipped as a tourist destination. This was spearheaded by the Geety Construction and Realty Development Incorporated.
The enhancements done in Plaza Independencia include the installation of new benches and lampposts, the restoration of the original fountain, addition of triangular concrete pavers thus making the Fort San Pedro the center of attraction upon entering the main gate of the Plaza, redesign of the walkways for better access, flexible use, safety and to highlight and direct attention towards Fort San Pedro, Architecturally significant landscaping to create more green areas with carabao grass and additional palm trees among others, the rehabilitation of the Magsaysay and War Veteran monuments; and the re-structuring of the Plaza Kiosk and Legazpi Obelisks.
Mayor Michael Lopez Rama has emphasized that this is one of the major projects of his administration. As such, no detail is to be left out especially the concern for safety - there are plans of installing CCTV cameras to ensure the security of the public while they are in the vicinity.
President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III has said, “Plaza Independencia has witnessed important moments in our nation’s history, and through the years, has continued to play a part in our continuing struggle to assert and strengthen our national identity. What was once a mark of dominion is now a symbol of our country’s independence, a reminder of our long journey to freedom and of people’s unity and determination to realize our aspirations.”
Last May 8, 2011 Plaza Independencia was was re-opened to the public which marked the beginning of another phase in Cebu’s history. It serves as a venue for exercise and other various fun and leisure activities.
The restoration of this hallowed site is a timely undertaking that coincides with our efforts to usher in an era of transformation and renewal for the Filipino people. This will reinforce the vigor of Cebuanos and make active contributions in our drive to attain our collective goal of comprehensive growth and equitable progress.
The city government’s effort to enhance and preserve Plaza Independencia has bear fruits. It achieved recognition as the Best Public Park by the SunStar Publishing Incorporated 2013 Best of Cebu Awards.
A concerete example of Mayor Rama’s aim for a People-Privately Driven Governance, more importantly Plaza Independencia reminds every Filipino of our most precious heritage – our Independence. With your involvement we shall realize the promise of our true potential as a great nation. (By: Greggy Jiggs P. Senados, PIO Staff)
The New Plaza Independencia
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