By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
No, the Iloilo Sports Complex, a facility owned by the Iloilo Provincial Government, is not a hideous place.
It is just that it should never be allowed again as last judging area for the Dinagyang.
I am not against the festival but racketeers crowding City Hall who treat every opportunity like the proverbial cookie jar to dip their hands into.
Yours truly was among the unlucky souls there last year in the last two culminating days of the Dinagyang, Saturday and Sunday.
The least that I could say is, I regret having been there and second, I wish Gov. Arthur Defensor rejected city hall’s request to use the sports complex anew.
City Hall racketeers, for one, oversold tickets and hapless merry goers have to squeeze themselves through the throng who overflowed the rafters. The stadium of the facility is capable of accommodating 10,000 people sitting capacity.
Racketeers oversold tickets top the point that even the isles overflowed. A classmate at law school, PNP Supt. John Jamili, went all the way from his assignment, Caraga Region, to see the Dinagyang. He bought one ticket worth P300 but finding no space at the stadium, he went down to the ground. He found himself sidling by the stairway.
Unknown to him, city hall racketeers had deployed “marshalls”, actually, volunteers sporting media IDs who accosted him and told him to climb back to the stadium. Luckily, a pair of police officers recognized him and told him to bear with the throng along the stairway overlooking the performance area.
The “media” marshalls were so arrogant they even had the gall to accost Bombit Heler, chief of the Iloilo Province’s Office of Economic Enterprise that managed the sports complex. “You cannot believe it: they even have the temerity to bar me and my subordinates from entering the sports complex?” he exclaimed.
I shelled out P300 to buy a ticket a month earlier, as a matter of courtesy. However, when one marshall accosted me to check my ID and saw her calling up her superior asking help to kick me out, that did it.
I showed her my capitol and press IDs showing I had all the right to be there at the ground to cover the event. I turned the table on her and gruffly interrogated her on her media ID. She admitted she was only made to wear the media card and she was not even a masscom student.
She confessed she and many others strutting around as “media-media”, were instructed by “Ma’am _______” to clear the ground of persons wearing the wrong “press ID”.
As I panned my eyes around, I saw an army of people sporting press IDs, actually bogus journalists who outnumbered legitimate ones.
These bogus journalists that city hall racketeers accredited were actually commercial photographers while some were bloggers who neither had the discipline nor skill to write regular reports or columns.
Maybe, it was just not my day that I forced the issue and cornered the volunteer.
Maybe, I just felt bad because yours truly and four other companions had gone there too early in the morning, skipping breakfast, believing the bogus program peddled by city hall racketeers would start early.
The PNP worsened that by its outrageous security policy. A companion was held briefly for refusing to turn-in her parker pen. The officer refused to issue her receipt, so her firm refusal. She created a scene speaking in English at that. The guards gave in.
An elementary student was unfortunate though. She was made to “deposit” her pair of tiny scissors but when she exited and asked for it, the guard could no longer account for it.
The program started late contrary to announcement. Performing troupes already arrived but the show began at past 12 noon because the VIPs were not around yet.
When the VIPs did arrive, led by a certain Jed Patrick Mabilog, the long wait was not yet over because the entire opening ceremonies at Freedom Grandstand or stage one five hours earlier, had to be reenacted, from the opening prayer followed by the national anthem, and finally torrents of speeches of politicians, capped by Mabilog’s kilometric verbiage. That happened Saturday and Sunday.
Many missed lunch.
Enough of the sports complex!