Arsenic’ back at Manila City Hall, marks Estrada bid for new Golden Age
An 8-foot-tall bronze statue of late former Manila Mayor Arsenio “Arsenic” Lacson was unveiled Thursday at City Hall’s Freedom Triangle, signifying efforts to revive the capital city’s “Golden Age,” according to the current mayor.
The statue, the third monument to rise in the city in honor of the man considered by many to be the “best mayor Manila ever had,” was inaugurated on Lacson’s 101st birth anniversary.
“May we all be inspired by Mayor Lacson and together bring back the sparkle of the Pearl of the Orient and see a renaissance of the Golden Age of our beloved Manila,” Mayor Joseph Estrada said in a speech.
The former President said plans had also been drawn up to rehabilitate the Manila Zoo and the first city underpass in Quiapo, now named after Lacson. Both were built under the latter’s administration.
The underpass, he noted, had become an eyesore and a haven for criminals, “that’s why we plan to privatize it to get rid of illegal vendors and other unsightly images.”
During Lacson’s second term, a group of American city mayors named Manila one of the 10 best administered cities in the world, he said. “By the time I step down as mayor, I hope that we would have laid the foundation for Manila to receive this recognition in the near future once again.”
Lacson’s family led by his daughter Millie Lacson-Lapira graced the ceremony. “My family and I are touched and humbled by the noble gesture of President-Mayor Estrada,” Lapira said.
“My father was not one who liked ceremonies and testimonials. Nonetheless, I’m sure he would have been very pleased with the honor given him today by the City of Manila,” she added.
Lapira also thanked Estrada for sprucing up Lacson’s tomb at Manila North Cemetery and for restoring his statue on Roxas Boulevard, which was also made by sculptor Julie Lluch and commissioned by then Mayor Lito Atienza.
The first Lacson monument was built in the 1970s by Ed Castrillo. It stands at Plaza Lacson, then known as Plaza Goiti, in Sta. Cruz and was commissioned by Mayor Ramon Bagatsing.
Estrada noted that these earlier statues had been vandalized in the past but that requests from Lacson’s children to have them restored were left unheeded by the previous city administration.
“This is not the way to treat a hero. It is only fitting to treat a memorial to a hero with respect,” Estrada said. “It is truly with great pride that we remember how Mayor Lacson built and transformed Manila into a roadmap city.”
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