There is a sense of panic and urgency surrounding the repairs being undertaken to restore the 85-year-old Rizal Memorial Coliseum’s former glory and splendor.
Workers are doing two 12-hour shifts to ensure that the construction company tapped to do the job meet the Oct. 30 deadline imposed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as the country prepares to host the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Scheduled Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Metro Manila, New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, and various major cities in Central and Southern Tagalog, the 2019 SEAG is being touted as a showcase of the Philippines’ quest to make heads turn as host of the 11-nation biennial sportsfest.
Last time it hosted the SEAG in 2005, key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao staged games alongside Metro Manila, which operated on a meager budget.
But this time, the host is putting premium on pomp and pageantry as well what with the construction of a track stadium and aquatics center in Tarlac.
Allan Lucero, one of seven engineers assigned at rebuilding the coliseum, swears that meeting the deadline is doable.
While the flooring and new seats have yet to be installed, Lucero said the 250-strong workforce will get the job done in time for the deadline.
The lower-level area of the coliseum will have retractable seats while the bleachers section won’t be touched.
For the first time, the coliseum will have an airconditioning unit that will be imported from Malaysia. VIP and various function rooms are also being made to help it get modernized.
In fact, some parts have already arrived and Lucero makes it clear that it won’t likely be installed by Oct. 30 but will nevertheless be fully operation by the time the SEAG opens.
Gymnastics will use the coliseum but after the SEAG, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) expects the collegiate leagues to hold their games there as it has been the case in the past.
“We already have inquiries about the collegiate leagues wanting to use the coliseum,’ said PSC Executive Director Guillermo Iroy.
Utmost care was applied when builders began working on the venue, according to Lucero, noting that the original design and even paint will be retained once it formally open to the public.
The coliseum is a part of the sprawling Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, which in 1954, hosted the Asian Games. (Nick Giongco)