Many of the problems that beset Philippine society may be minimized by a plain remedy: the establishment of public parks in every barangay, municipality, city, and province of the country.
Well-equipped public parks in all our local government units may unlock solutions to the many ills of our society: the prevalence of drug addiction among our youth, the rising health problems of our people resulting from inadequate physical activity, and even the dearth of world-class Filipino athletes.
Also, the increased human interaction that takes place in public parks will foster a sense of community among our people, enable exchanges of ideas on burning issues that affect our lives, and increase public sensitivity to environmental concerns, among others.
Land is a most precious natural resource that should primarily serve the public needs of our communities. It is a very limited resource, and its use by private individuals for personal purposes should play second fiddle to the communal needs of our people.
A public park should be the principal piece of property in every community, and it must be equipped to become the focal point of everyday community life.
If we survey our cities, however, we will see a suffocating sight: precious land cramped with private dwellings and business establishments. There are virtually no public parks to satisfy the collective needs of our people to congregate and interact with one another, as well as provide a venue to engage in enjoyable outdoor activities.
Whatever public parks we see in our cities and municipalities are merely the unoccupied land in front of municipal or city halls, pathetically covered in cement, and lamentably barren of trees.
The huge malls that proliferate all over the country do not substitute for parks because people patronize these commercial venues for shopping and dining purposes, which are entirely different from the communion with nature and congregation with people that outdoor parks engender and bestow.
In every nucleus of a community, starting with the barangays, there should be a substantial chunk of land devoted to a public park planted with numerous trees and plants that stimulate a gratifying communion with nature. It should have spaces for sporting events where the youth can expend their boundless energies.
Our local and national government units should embark on a major program to acquire land for the purpose of establishing as many public parks in as many barangays and municipalities as possible, starting with the communities where land prices are still affordable. The government must follow through by providing these communities with the services of landscape planning experts, supplied with appropriate trees and plants from the Bureau of Plants, and allotted with sports equipment that will encourage team intramurals among the youth.
In cities and municipalities where property prices are prohibitive, the land parcels they foreclose from landowners delinquent in realty tax payments can be transformed into public parks. Alternatively, the funds generated from these property foreclosures can be set aside to acquire land repurposed into parks.
Every barangay, municipality, and city bestowed with a public park should have an inventory of sports equipment that will enable residents to play a variety of sports, such as soccer, volleyball, badminton, baseball, and basketball, among others. If we aspire to move beyond our solitary preference for basketball and excel in a variety of sports in international competitions, we must go to the grassroots by providing multipurpose spaces that will enable our youth to freely engage in as many sports activities as possible.
We need public parks as centers of life in our communities, where our people can picnic, run, walk, bike, play sports, and even hold demonstrations to vent complaints against our leaders.
Let thousands of public parks bloom all over our country.