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Rediscovering Manila: Rizal Park

       Luneta Park is a 58 hectares premier public park in Metro Manila and in the Philippines. It is a symbol not just of Manila but of the country's heritage. Luneta Park is home to the Rizal Monument, a  42 ft. memorial built in honor of our national hero, Jose Rizal. The monument consists of a standing bronze sculpture of Rizal, with an obelisk, set on a stone base within which his remains are interred. A plaque on the pedestal's front reads: "To the memory of José Rizal, patriot and martyr, executed on Bagumbayan Field December Thirtieth 1896. This monument is dedicated by the people of the Philippine Islands".

Rizal Park entrance along Taft Avenue
       It is also known as the "kilometer zero" - a point of origin from which all distances in the Philippines are measured. Aside from the statue of Rizal made by renowned Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, Luneta Park boasts of a relief map of the Philippines in a man-made lagoon, Open Air Auditorium, Japanese and Chinese Garden and more.
Relief Map of the Philippines
      From Taft Avenue, the first attraction that you'll see is the relief map of the Philippines in a vast man-made lake. Relief map is map model with elevations and depressions representing hills and valleys. You can easily spot several famous volcanoes that can be found in the the country. I believe this is the largest relief map of the Philippines anywhere.

National Museum of the Philippines
        I cannot ignore the architectural beauty of the National Museum so I took a photo of it. It serves as an educational, scientific and cultural institution in preserving the various permanent national collections featuring the ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological and visual artistry of the Philippines.

30 ft bronze Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom
       That's Lapu-Lapu! He is a native Muslim chieftain of Mactan (in the modern province of Cebu) and a representative of the Sultan of Sulu. He is regarded by Filipinos as the first national hero for having been the first native of the archipelago to resist Spanish colonisation after killing Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

TRIVIAS:
  • Sculpted by Juan Sajid Imao
  • The Korea Freedom League under the leadership of Kown Jung-Dal donated P15 million to erect the statue.
  • This statue is 400 feet from Rizal Monument. The distance between the two statues symbolizes the 400 years between the time of Lapu-Lapu and Rizal.
Department of Tourism
       The Department of Tourism head office under renovation. This will be now the Museum of Natural History. This building will soon be retrofitted to house the third museum in what shall become Manila’s Museum Precinct. Anchoring the precinct is the newly completed National Gallery of Art, formerly the Senate Building on Burgos Drive, where the country’s definitive collection of paintings is on display.

Open Air Auditorium
       Then there's Open Air Auditorium where mini concerts and shows are held.

Man-made lagoon
       This man-made lagoon in the middle of the park is equipped with mechanical devices which are responsible for a dazzling dancing fountain display at night. The lake is surrounded by benches so people can simply relax at the view of the placid lake.

Chinese Garden
      Built by Chinese community as an additional attraction, the serene atmosphere at this garden is perfect for picnic and relaxation.

Japanese Garden
      Like the Chinese Garden, this place is perfect for relaxation with a touch of Japanese atmosphere. Japanese Garden is found in the middle section of Rizal Park or Luneta. It is built to promote friendship and tolerance between Japan & the Philippines. Inside can be found a lagoon & a bridge.

Rizal's Execution Site
       Few meters away from the Rizal monument, lies a hidden historical site where our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was executed. We all know that the monument is where his remains are interred, but that is not where he was executed. The Rizal Execution Site is represented by a diorama, a  three-dimensional full-size bronze statues of about 8 feet representing the actual and dramatic scene and on how Rizal was executed. Entrance to the site is PHP15 for children and PHP20 for adults.

Full blog here.

Nayong Pilipino
        This is the former Orchidarium. I wonder if this place is still filled with orchids. Entrance fee are PHP50 for adult and PHP20 for seniors, children, and students. It is noted as a park within a park. It was established in 1994, home to varieties of indigenous plant life and also holds some of the richest collections of orchids.

Senior Citizen's Garden
       Luneta Park pays respect to elders and gave them a place where they can feel right at home for a relaxing and gratifying park experience. The new park attraction called the “Senior Citizens Garden,” people in their 60s and above would be able to hold aerobic dance classes and other special events or gatherings.  Outdoor fitness equipment, mostly for cardio exercises, were also set up in the area to allow them to flex their muscles and keep in shape. Senior citizens would be able to simply relax and savor the fresh breeze amidst tall trees and flowering plants.

Kanlungan ng Sining (Artist's Haven)
       A small park within a park. Entrance fee is PHP10. It's a site of artistic and natural artworks, it houses the gallery run by the Arts Association of the Philippines (AAP), in collaboration with the NDPC.

The Bust of Sultan Kudarat
         Around the man-made lake, there are several busts of prominent people who contributed something significant to the country. There's a short description of who they are and what they've done. One can start cultural exploration from here.

Gomburza Marker
       On this spot, on February 17, 1872, fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, Jacinto Zamora were executed for alleged complicity with the military uprising in Cavite on January 20, 1872. They were executed by strangulation by a vile device consisting of an iron collar which the executioner tightened slowly until the martyrs met death.

Mini Train
       I'm almost done touring you around and before I forgot, you can actually ride on this mini train for touring the whole park. Recommended for seniors and children and of course for everyone who wants to experience it.

Rizal Monument
       Finally, we have the Rizal Monument, the main attraction of the park. The perimeter of the monument is guarded continuously by the Philippine Marine Corps’ Marine Security and Escort Group. And who will fail to notice the photobomber in the background? That's Torre de Manila. It's construction was put on hold after the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a temporary restraining order. Heritage conservationists wants the construction to be halted totally as it ruins the sightline of the monument. People called it "Pambansang Photobomber" (National Photobomber) and often referred to it as "Terror de Manila" (a play on its name Torre de Manila).


Luneta Flagpole
       The towering150 ft flagpole in front of the monument. This best represents the the Philippines as a nation and Filipinos as brave people. Mabuhay tayong mga Pilipino!

How to get there?
       Rizal Park is in between the Roxas Blvd., Taft Ave., and the streets of Padre Burgos and T.M. Kalaw in Manila.  If you’re coming from South of Manila, you can ride a jeepney bound for Taft Ave. and get off at T.M. Kalaw or at in front of the "Rizal Park" word.  You can also take the LRT 1 train and get off at United Nations (UN) Station, and walk for few minutes towards T.M. Kalaw.  If you’re coming from Cubao area , you can ride a jeepney, take a Quiapo-bound jeepney, get off at Quiapo Church, and take another jeep via T.M. Kalaw route. You can also ride LRT 2 from Araneta Station and drop off at Recto Station. Walk towards the Quezon Boulevard and ride with "Luneta" sign on it. And if these directions still didn't work for you, take a cab.
   
     Luneta Park is a must-visit if you're here in Manila. You will learn a lot of things here about the past so we can better understand the present day. After all, we owe it to people who fought for our freedom, who suffered and died for this country's liberty. -Jon-

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