An open letter to Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama
Editor's Note: This post was first published in the author's blog.
Dear Mayor Rama,
Not long ago, Cebuanos were overjoyed when a road beside the Mabolo Parish was renamed into the Pope John Paul II Avenue. Fronting the Seminario de San Carlos and Carmelite Monastery, it truly deserves being labelled after a well-loved Saint who once visited our city, which is also known as Asia’s Cradle of Christianity.
The renaming becomes even more significant because this road will host the convention center that serves as the main venue of the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) which will hopefully be graced by Pope Francis, the successor of John Paul II.
The avenue itself speaks of humble dignity. Although not very wide, it is quite far from being heavily populated or polluted compared to others in the city. A vital link to various points of interest, this avenue’s charm comes mainly from a center island that hosts graceful fire trees.
Since these trees are among a few that remain in our streets (similar ones mysteriously disappeared when the Serging Osmena Boulevard was widened), I was therefore dismayed when you sought permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cut them so that the road could be widened for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Summit (APEC).
Mr. Mayor, please do not cut these trees. Doing so would not only be sacrilegious to Saint John Paul II. It would be bad for a city that’s trying to show itself as liveable and earth-friendly. Besides, no amount of tree-cutting will ever compensate for good traffic planning and enforcement. Otherwise, we might as well cut all the trees in our city and trust that our traffic situation will improve right away.
I do believe that our APEC visitors will appreciate tree-lined streets better than wide highways devoid of trees. In their respective countries, these visitors surely have environment-friendly roads that feature trees. I even doubt that they will be happy knowing that their visit here will cause the cutting of our trees. I’m sure there are other ways to improve traffic management for APEC, the IEC and other events that Asia’s Cradle of Christianity will be hosting.
I leave this matter to those who are officially mandated to do it, but let’s not include tree-cutting as the shortcut solution to this concern, as if it would suffice in solving congestion now and in the distant future.
To better emphasize my point, may I thus remind you of a timely and relevant quote from Saint John Paul II: “The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
Mr. Mayor, I trust that you will heed the words of the beloved Saint who once passed through this historic avenue that now bears his name.
Very truly yours,
Ka Bino Guerrero
Ka Bino Guerrero is a resident of Cebu and a heritage advocate.