Last December we were on a do it yourself walking tour of the best field trip destinations in Metro Manila. Me, Kenneth and Titus visited Manila’s top tourist spots from the Walled City of Intramuros to Fort Santiago then to Rizal Park or Luneta along Roxas Ave. After the metro’s historical tour we went to the shopper’s haven in Greenhills and then to SM Mall of Asia. All these sites on just a single day and by way of walking and public commute; it was a very affordable way to discover Manila. And you too can experience the best sites of the city without signing up and paying for any Manila Tour Package. Some adventures are best done by walking!
Welcome to Rizal Park, Manila
Field trip experiences and story resumes … we were sort of tracing the last steps of Dr. Rizal so we walked back from the Fort to Intramuros, got out at the gate near Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and walked all the way to Luneta. It was a long walk hehehe but it was windy and cloudy so it was okay. (Weather then was gloomy, the week after our trip to the capital Sendong happened).
I was really interested to have another photo with the kilometer 0 marker but arghh the marker only reads “K 0”, the “M” fell down or something. I hope authorities will repair that signage, the distance marker is very important after all. So we decided not to cross the street from the main flagpole to get to the KM 0 marker.
When Titus was a kid, he and his brood of cousins usually trooped to Luneta Park on public holidays. It was a favorite place for Pinoy families and barkadahan to have picnics or just to site see years ago and more so now that Rizal Park has been restored. The restoration and park improvement is still on-going, hopefully the park, the largest man-made park in Asia, will reclaimed its former beauty.
Rizal Shrine and Statue, Rizal Park in Manila
One of the best improvements lately is the re-operation of the Rizal Park dancing fountain laser lights and music show. This musical fountain show is enticing more visitors to come to Luneta at night. There are also shows, mini concerts and presentations especially during special holidays like Christmas, Independence Day etc. And they are always for free, something that Manilenos, tourists and visitors appreciate.
Luneta’s Importance in Philippine History
Luneta, in Spanish days was called ‘Bagumbayan’, it’s very famous as it was the site of Dr Jose Rizal’s Martyrdom. The Philippines National Hero Dr. Rizal was executed at Luneta by a firing squad. As a tribute to Dr Rizal the country’s main Rizal Shrine and Statue was built there. That’s the shrine you see fronting Roxas Boulevard. Every December 30th his death is commemorated by a special program that is usually always attended and spearheaded by the current President of the Philippines.
Unknown to many, Luneta is also the place of execution of the 3 Martyr Priests charged with the Cavite Munity – GomBurza. Do you know what GomBurZa stands for? Hoping you do!
Sidenote Rizal Trivia: Do you know that the tallest Rizal Statue can be found in Calamba, Laguna? Yep it measured 22 feet high. This statue beat the record previously set by the statue in Nueva Viscaya which was only 18.6 feet tall.
What can you see in Rizal Park?
You will of course see the Rizal Shrine and Statue but aside from that you will see the following if you visit Luneta:
1. Kilometer Zero or KM 0 — <<< click that link to read about how to read the marker and assess distances from Manila to other places in Luzon.
2. The biggest Flagpole in the Philippines – this is the flagpole in front of the Rizal Statue. On its base, you can read about details relevant to Philippine History. It’s so long we can’t capture the whole pole.
Rizal Park Flagpole
One of the markers on the base of the Rizal Park Flagpole
3. Bust Relief of Heroes – If you want to know the contributions of famous heroes in the Philippines fight for independence, read up on each of the bust relief (or are they sculptures?) Get to know the important men and women in our history even through a snippet. They are all lined up on the right side and left side of the central area of the park.
4. The big, I mean huge, ultra mega biggest statue of Datu Lapu – Lapu of Mactan! (I am a Cebuana from Mactan so please ignore the superlatives heheheh).
Sentinels of Freedom – Datu Lapu Lapu Statue
5. The Philippine Relief Map – find your province or your island! 🙂
Cebu Island on the Philippine Relief Map
6. Rizal Park Dancing Fountain – Watch laser lights in harmony to popular songs, enjoy the dancing musical fountain.
7. Japanese Garden – a good place to just reflect but hmm I wish park management will have enough funds to beautify the area even more.
8. Chinese Garden – another area where you can just sit still, let time pass and forget about the ‘hustle and bustle’ of Metro Manila living.
9. Children’s Playground – ahhh if you’ve got kids, ‘release’ them here hehehhe
10. Butterfly Pavilion – Errr I know there is this place in the park but wasn’t able to check it.
11. The Rizal Park signage – very important to have pictures here if you are like us who loves signages and markers =)
12. Picnic grounds for families and friends – just spread your mat and bring out your baons.
13. A complex with Sari Sari stores where you can buy your candies, chips, biscuits, burgers, softdrinks etc.
14. The Luneta photographers and vendors that roams the park looking for the next customer.
Oh I almost forgot, there is no 15 🙂
15. Luneta Park mini-train – kids and kids at heart will love to ride this one. Relaxing way to roam the park!
Mini Train in Luneta Park
Entrance to Rizal Park is free but if you want to go to special area like the Japanese Garden or the Chinese Garden there is a very minimal entrance fee. I think it was P15 per head not so sure though. The park being a public park is open always; it does not close so you can come real late or so early at dawn.
Nearby Attractions in Luneta
If what Luneta offers serve only to wet your appetite for Philippine History, you can add to your Manila tour itinerary the following attractions which are near Rizal Park. You can just walk to them but some are a bit far but still kaya pa ding lakarin kung gugustuhin: National Historical Institute, National Library, Museong Pambata, Quirino Grandstand, and National Museum of the Filipino People. If you want modern attraction, Manila’s Ocean Park is also nearby.
Manila Field Trip Experience continuation…
Back to our field trip for the nth time, what struck me the most about Luneta was the inscription on the Lapu – Lapu Monument, the monument is a gift by the Korean people to the Filipinos. Its official name is “The Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom”.
You can find Datu Lapu – Lapu’s statue at the back portion of Luneta and it follows a straight line to Dr Rizal’s statue. No worries it’s impossible to miss him hehhehehe
Gloomy Day when we visited Datu Lapu –Lapu in Luneta
Datu Lapu – Lapu is considered as the First Filipino Hero, Dr Jose Rizal is the considered as the Philippine’s National Hero. Both men are sentinels of our freedom. The period from Lapu – Lapu to Rizal marks the fight for freedom and independence of the country from colonial rule. From Rizal to the future, I sincerely hope the freedom and democracy we enjoy today will be for eternity.
The Sentinel inscription starts with: “In Appreciation and Honor of the Memory of Freedom Loving Filipinos Who Sent Their Sons to Help Save Korean Democracy”.
Please click here to read the FULL INSCRIPTIONS on the Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom.
Marker for the Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom, Rizal Park
After having tons of pics with Mactan’s ruler we ventured further to the Philippine Relief Map. I wish Rizal Park management will install something like a scaffold we can climb on so we can have a bird’s eye view of the relief map. It’s pretty hard to identify the 7,107 islands by looking at it from the side. And you can’t take shots that capture the whole map from its sides. Can we have something to climb on please?
Luneta – Relief Map shows Island of Palawan behind Kenneth
Our last picture taking area was at the sign of Rizal Park along Taft Avenue. Hope you enjoy the short sojourn to Luneta. Visit Rizal Park the next time you are in Manila. Just because we are out of school, it doesn’t mean we can’t have field trips to the city 🙂
Adios Rizal Park!
You can read what we did on our Manila Field Trip Adventure and our experiences by visiting these posts:
Star City: Rates and Rides for 2012 ( best to visit this site separately para sulit yung bayad sa entrance fees).