Built in 1969, the Marikina Sports Park was originally named the Rodriguez Sports Center after the governor at that time. It was then named after then Governor Isidro Santiago Rodriguez Sr. (1915-1992), when Marikina was still part of the Rizal Province.
Left to neglect over the years, it was taken over by Mayor Bayani Fernando and fully renovated by 2001. The Sports Complex boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, track and field facilities, a gymnasium, and courts for basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton. Many local and international sporting and cultural events have been held here, including the 1972 ISF Men’s World Championships, the 1973 Asian Athletics Championships, the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, the 2017 Philippines Football League inaugural games, and the 2014 ASEAN School Games.
The façade of the Marikina Sports Park has similar bas-reliefs that feature images of sports and competition. These were created by Eugenio Bunuan, who was also responsible for the reliefs on the Marikina City Hall and Quezon City Hall.
The main part of the Marikina Sports Park is the track and field with bleachers. Every day, residents come in and out freely to exercise in the oval. Around the four “corners” of the track are twelve sculptures of athletes in various poses. These were created between 1992 and 2002, as part of the citywide collection of sculptures entitles “Naghihintay ng Bayani” (Waiting for a Hero). Designed by Arch. Ernesto ‘Bong’ Leaño and sculpted by local craftsmen, these statues are meant to inspire the locals to find their heroes among the ordinary works or athlete, and not the so-called celebrities and personalities. Among the featured sports are:
Atop the northern tower of the Marikina Sports Park is another sculpture of a person in four stages of a sprint:
The Crouching Position at the Starting Block
The Star: Firing Out Low
Reaching the Finish Line
I assume that these sculptures were created by the same team who made the “Naghihintay ng Bayani”.
At the southern end of the Marikina Sports Park is the Victory Arch, with this present version constructed around 2002.
Outside the arena, at the corner of Shoe Avenue and Sumulong Highway, is the Bell Arch. The bells can be played like a carillon.
Scattered around the track are five junk sculptures entitled “Robot City”, by Mark David O. Cerezo. These were created in 2007, as a means to promote recycling, and were once distributed all over the city.
Mark David O. Cerezo (born 1984) is a self-taught artist, and a stalwart advocate of positive development in Marikina City. Nicknamed the ‘Rubberman’ by some locals, Cerezo was first recognized for his creativity in creating toys and costumes out of scrap rubber. Cerezo has used his talents in educating the youth on environmental awareness, as well as developing alternative sources of livelihood using waste materials. Although Cerezo has focused most of his efforts to the people of Marikina, he has also extended his developmental work to the towns in Leyte and Samar, after the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, in 2013. Because of his unwavering sense of Bayanihan, Cerezo has been recognized by various institutions, and has been honored as the 2011 Best Innovative Employee of Metro Manila; 2011 Ten Outstanding Employee of Metro Manila; 2011 Most Outstanding Public Servant in Administrative and General Support of Marikina; 2012 Cobra Pinoy Hero awardees; 2013 Model Employee of Marikina; National Awardee of the 2014 Most Outstanding Volunteer of the Philippines and featured as one of the 2015 Tapat Dapat Modern Day Heroes of Champion Detergent Soap.
Aside from promoting a health conscious and clean environment, the City of Marikina uses art and culture to uplift the spirit of its residents, and the Marikina Sports Park is one of these efforts to create that community.