By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has promised Ilonggos that he will assist in sourcing funds for the expansion of the “congested” Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
The House Speaker emphasized the necessity of expanding the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, especially for the world-renowned festival that attracts thousands of spectators.
“Palagi kong binibisita itong magandang Dinagyang Festival. Pero sa totoo lang, masikip (Iloilo Freedom Grandstand) na kaya siguro susuportahan ako ng mga kongresista at mga senador na i-expand natin itong grandstand ng konti para hindi na tayo masikip,” Romualdez said in a short message during the Ati-atihan tribes competition on January 28.
[I always visit this beautiful Dinagyang Festival. But honestly, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is cramped, and I hope that I will get the support of the congressmen and senators to expand this grandstand a bit so that it won’t be crowded anymore.]
He furthered that the source of funds for its expansion will be deliberated this year.
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand serves as the main stage for key activities of the Dinagyang Festival, such as Kasadyahwan sa Kabanwahanan and the Ati-atihan tribes competition.
The grandstand is located at the corner of Aduana-Muelle Loney Streets in the City Proper district, facing the scenic Iloilo River.
The infrastructure, completed in 2018, was built in the more or less 2,600 square-meter property and has a seating capacity of 4,000 — double the size of the original Freedom Grandstand (now Sunburst Park) on J.M. Basa Street.
Initially called the “Dinagyang Grandstand,” the infrastructure was renamed by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to “Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand” through an executive order.
Romualdez also revealed plans to extend the riverside lateral park, commonly known as the Esplanade, in front of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
“Itong taon maguumpisa na ang bagong Esplanade dito sa harap ng grandstand,” he said, noting that funding for its construction is currently in progress.
[This year, a new Esplanade in front of the grandstand will start construction.]
The Iloilo River Esplanade is a 9-kilometer-long linear park along the Iloilo River in Iloilo City. It stretches on both sides of the river, from Carpenter’s Bridge in Mandurriao and Molo districts to Muelle Loney (Drilon) Bridge in the City Proper and Lapuz districts.