Renaming the Capitol streets

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

BACOLOD Councilor Carl Lopez has filed a proposal to rename the two roads that serve as boundaries of the Provincial Capitol at the north and south wings. Across the north side of the Capitol from behind the Philippine National Bank to San Juan Street to the west are other provincial offices.

The councilor’s proposal was approved by the Bacolod Sanggunian on first reading last week.

The North Capital Road is proposed to be called “MassKara Road” while the South Capitol Road will be called “Smile Road”.

I think that the land on these two roads traverses belong to the Provincial Government, the reason that Occidental Negros Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson wants to study this proposal and has asked the Bacolod City government a copy of the resolution “requesting Congress to rename the two roads.”

If the land on which these roads traverses are owned by the province, the province will be the one to make that change, but if owned by the national government then it is the President or Congress that has the authority to make the change. The City has no authority over them.

There are new guidelines (aside from the Local Government Code) before the name of roads, streets, government structures as schools and plazas can be changed.

“The sanggunians of component cities and municipalities may, in consultation with the National Historical Institute, change the name of streets, roads, schools, health facilities or any other public place or building within its territorial jurisdiction (Letter “c” of Sec. 13 of Local Government Code).

Note that any change must be done upon consultation with the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines) so that the SP has no authority to make the changes without this consultation which implies consent.

Did Lopez seek the NHCP opinion on this?

Even the name to be used must follow the guideline which says that the “proposed names must have historical and cultural significance and must contribute to the positive development of national pride through the good example exhibited by the name being used.”

Considering the two names proposed, what historical significance do “Smile” and “MassKara” have? In fact, what “cultural significance” does the MassKara dancing have in relation to our national culture? The MassKara dancing has no historical or Filipino roots. It was a festive creation for tourism purposes that followed a foreign theme, music, movements and costumes.

When the festival began in 1980, I was asked, “What are the historical or cultural roots of the festival” and I replied, “None”. It was intended merely as entertainment and anyone who watches the festival dances, costumes, choreography and gyration cannot point to a single Filipino root, except the dancers if they took off their masks.

The second requirement is that recommended names for public places should be appropriate in terms of historical value and significance to the place to be named or renamed. One reason given in this proposal is that the MassKara Festival is held there. “Smile” was a tourism slogan that now evokes laughter and sneers considering the state of the city’s garbage, traffic, floods, etc. Our readers have their own reason not to smile but make fun of it.

The MassKara Festival has never been held on these two roads, except as starting points. Even the Electric MassKara is held at Lacson Street so that there is no relevance of the names to the streets.

There is another criterion: Indigenous names of roads, streets, barangays and other places should always be preserved especially if that name is unique to the place.  (e.g. places named Sampaguita, Tagaytay, Kundiman, Tayuman, etc., should not be renamed).

What about the Capitol Roads? They are “indigenous names”. They were there since the beginning when the Capitol building was occupied by the provincial government in 1932. Not only are these names of historic value, but they also evoke the sense of “belongingness” appropriate to the provincial seat of power. Would “MassKara” and “Smile” evoke that kind of image to the center of provincial authority?

The proposed names have no relevance to the provincial government because they belong to Bacolod City that is not a component of the province of Occidental Negros. When we speak of MassKara and Smile, the images that come to mind are the dancing, colorful costumes and fast beat drumming but not the Capitol and what it represents.