When we think of traveling, what immediately comes to mind are exotic locales, white sand beaches, the off the beaten path etc. Basically we think of places that are far from the place where we live. But just in case you are thinking of going out this weekend and you do not want to go to the mall, the best place to go to is the Rizal Park.
Why Rizal Park? I know it is such a cliche place to go to, citing the fact that it is on every tourist's list of must-see destination in Manila and that it has been there since time immemorial but the refurbished park is worth a visit or two dear readers. I work in Intramuros and pass by the park on my way to work everyday but I still stop by when I can.
Situated in the heart of the city of Manila, it is at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard, overlooking Manila Bay. According to Wikipedia, while the social and business activities during the Spanish rule were confined in nearby Intramuros, a small area south of the walls was cleared to prevent sneak attacks from the patriotic natives. The area was shaped like a small moon (lunette) thus the name Luneta. Also called Bagumbayan, the park is now named after the martyr of Philippine revolution, Jose Rizal.
If you are coming from Taft Avenue you will see the newly refurbished sign which provides an imposing facade for the park. The relief map of the Philippines which is located right at the back is yet to be renovated.
For those with kids in tow, the best place to go to is the newly renovated Children's Playground which is right beside the neo-classical building of the Department of Tourism. Entrance fee is just Php10.00 both for kids and adults. There are monoblock chairs and tables with umbrellas where you can sit down and eat or rest after the kids get tired of playing (if they do get tired). The mandatory slide and swing is there for the kids to play in along with the giant shoe, fish, turtle and dinosaurs that are bound to delight even those who are not so young.
The statue of Lapu-Lapu located in the Agrifina Circle, also known as "The Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom" is right in front of the DOT building and will not be missed by anyone. Before Mactan's hero there used to be a giant globe and a skating rink there. My mother even has a picture in front of the globe back in the '70s.
If you are looking for a more relaxing entertainment then you can head over to the newly upgraded Luneta Dancing Fountain. Constructed in 1968 and redesigned by the same man who developed the original fountain, German-Filipino William Schaare, it features as much as 88 feet high of pulsating fountain, while 38 smaller squirts of water surround it. On a given day you can hear Katy Perry, The Glee Cast, Craig David and many other pop stars songs blasting from the speakers providing the background music to the dancing fountain. It is a prettier sight at night as the fountain is given a boost of color by multi-colored lights.
Other attractions are The Japanese and Chinese Gardens (Entrance fee is Php5.00), the usual pasyalan of lovers)
Of course a trip to Rizal Park will not be complete if you do not take a picture or have your picture taken with the Rizal Monument.
At the end of the park is the Quirino Grandstand, where various historical events have taken place. You can fly a kite, play badminton, run or join the folks who work out or dance there every morning. If you have some cash then you can proceed to the Manila Ocean Park or you can just watch the world famous Manila Bay sunset to end the day.
In a city filled with smog and busy people working day in and day out, it is nice to take a break and relax in the Manila's answer to New York's Central Park. Pilipinas Tara na sa Rizal Park!
How to get to Rizal Park