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Coronavirus Park
By Elson T. Elizaga
Concert for HIV-AIDS awareness at Coronavirus Park!Concert on AIDS awareness at Golden Friendship Park, Cagayan de Oro. Note the globular lights that look like coronaviruses.

Lots of talk recently about the vice-mayor not following the dress code of the City Council. He wears his trademark striped polo shirt instead of the barong. Fine with me as long as he doesn’t sport a miniskirt and a thong.

I studied in Silliman University and we didn’t have a dress code. Teachers wore T-shirts sometimes, and even male students used bakya. A cousin from Xavier University who gave me a visit was quite disturbed. He saw a poet teacher with tsinelas and said the teacher looked like a gardener. But students didn’t mind. We learned a lot from our writers, logic professors, scientists, and musicians.  I got a C in statistics, but I understand and get a well-earned diarrhea when a government project is overpriced. And do you know that the best mayor of Cagayan de Oro is a Sillimanian? Justiniano R. Borja. Yup, the guy with a monument at the divisoria.

A German mechanic who died some years back told me: “You Filipinos like show. You put antennas on jeepneys with red flags on the tips but you don’t have radios.” He was right. Just look at multi-colored lamps of the divisoria recently. They call them globe lights. A writer friend describes them as garish, i.e., “marked by harsh color or excessive ornamentation”. My architect brother’s phrase is “jeepney colors”. I think I’m conservative because I’m only reminded of funeral parlors and drag queens.

The globe lights have featured prominently in recent posters and websites about Cagayan de Oro. They have become symbols of alleged progress. But if you’re reading this, and you have a computer connected to the Internet, look for “coronavirus” in Google Images.

Illustrations of coronavirus from Google Images

See? The SARS, HIV, and H1N1 viruses are proud members of the coronavirus family. And their shapes are like -- holy shit! -- the globe lights of our hometown Cagayan de Oro!

But why should we care? Some years ago, the City Council enacted an ordinance prohibiting SARS patients outside Cagayan de Oro from using our hospitals. Remember the SARS suspect pushed back by the police to Bukidnon? That’s how our officials love the people here -- never mind if there are no medicines at the city hospital, and three pregnant women, according to Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, have to share a bed. That’s a total of six people, really, if you count the fetuses. Or nine, if each of the ladies has a pair of twins. Nine people in bed!

So, we have a microbiological illustration of the deadly coronavirus in our heroes’ park and the park facing St. Augustine Cathedral. Is that kalandrakas? Of course, not. It’s part of the city campaign of “Bloom, Blossom and Boom”.

Talking about BBB, our heritage conservation egroup recently discussed the exciting rediscovery in Northern Mindanao of a species of Rafflesia last month -- the world’s second largest flower. Huge. Bigger than your average electric fan. And extremely rare.

But stinks. Before the flower dies, it farts. The flies descend and take charge of the business of pollination. Wonderful, natural phenomenon. But since it’s a bloom, blossom, and bahoo, it won’t be nice to use the flower for our ads, even if we transfer the City Hall to the garbage dump. End

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