After spending time exploring the Paco Park and Cemetery (Check: Paco Park and Cemetery), we headed to our next destination. A very common site in Manila and an attraction that often gets crowded. I used to pass by this place but never really get the chance to explore it. My mom used to tell me that she used to bring me here when I was a kid but I just can’t remember anything about it.Rizal Park or Luneta National Park or simply Luneta is one of the largest urban park not just in the country but also in Asia. With 140 acres of land, your whole day is actually good enough just to explore this place. Whenever we are talking about Luneta, I can only think of one attraction in mind, the Rizal Monument but I was surprised to see many other attractions in this place and each is special in their own right.Rizal Park is not just your typical urban park because exploring this place is like walking down the memory lane due to its huge historical significance. The place have witnessed so many events in Philippine history. One of the most notable would be the execution of our national hero.
Rizal’s Execution Site
Contrary to the beliefs that the monument is the exact spot where Rizal was executed, you can actually find the actual spot where he was martyred in “The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal” or “Ang Pagpapakabayani Ni Dr Jose Rizal” site. This particular area in Rizal park features a diorama depicting all the notable events in Rizal’s life including his execution. The spot where you can see Rizal being shot by gunfire is the same spot where he is really executed and died. The entrance fee to this site is Php20
The Chinese Garden
Not too far from Rizal’s execution site is another interesting themed garden. The Chinese Garden welcomes you with ornate Chinese-style gate and the garden is adorned with many interesting Chinese inspired details much like that Chinese-inspired area in Botanical Gardens in Baguio City (Check : Botanical Garden). There are gazebos and pagodas and man-made lagoons. There’s an entrance fee of Php10 per head.
La Madre Filipina Monument
Another interesting sculpture in Luneta Park is this white-washed statue of La Madre Filipina. This might look new but this statue is actually built along with other three in 1921. It has witnessed the nightmarish Battle of Manila. This was sculpted by Ramon Martinez and was once located at the abutments of the approaches of the Jones Bridge linking Binondo and Intramuros, it was relocated at Rizal Park after the Liberation of Manila. It was retouched by F Caedo.
The Gallery of Heroes
Another set of artworks in the heart of Rizal park is the long Gallery of heroes. It features a row of bust sculpture monuments of historical Philippine Heroes. There are 2 rows on both sides of the Central Lagoon, one row on the North Promenade and another row on the South Promenade. From the first hero Lapu-Lapu and many others.
The Independence Flagpole and the Musical Dancing Fountain
Standing at 150 feet, it is considered as the highest flag pole in the country. It is standing just in front of the Rizal Monument. Not too far from the pole is another interesting sight in Luneta which can be more appreciated by night, the Musical Dancing Fountain. Dubbed as the biggest and most vibrant dancing fountain in the country, The central lagoon present a show with waters soaring up to 88 feet., fireballs, exploding water rockets and more. You can also enjoy the loud music coming from the open air auditorium.
The Open Air Auditorium
Located just across the pool is the Open Air Auditorium which features performances provided for free to the general public by the National Parks Development Committee, Department of Tourism and the National Broadcasting Network. It also features free entertainment including mix of performances from dance, theatre, to musical performances by local and foreign artists. The building is designed by the man behind the Theater of Performing Arts of CCP, Leandro Locsin.
The Mini Trains of Luneta
The park is best explored by walking but if you are not into such, then there’s also another interesting way to explore the area! You’ll spot different mini trains navigating around the park and each of them features their own special themes to attract visitors. The one above is inspired from a toy trainWe also spotted another one being pulled by an owner-type jeep. It carries an old Filipino house – inspired carriage adorned with polished wooden walls and ceiling, Capiz windows and other intricately designed details
Relief Map of Philippine Islands
Another interesting spot is the relief map of Philippine Islands. It is basically a giant raised-relief map of the country and is freely accessible to the public. I don’t know how accurate the map is in this man-made lake but it includes the controversial Scarborough Shoal, Kalayaan, and eastern part of Sabah.The Palawan Islands
I guess a trip to Rizal Park will not be completed without visiting its most popular attraction, the Rizal monument (and yes, sad to say, it includes that “Pambansang Photobomber“). The monument was built to commemorate with our National Hero and his incomparable contribution to our country. It features a set of bronze sculpture of Rizal along with his family and comrades. The monument also houses his remains. The remains of Rizal was secretly and initially interred in Paco Cemetery (Check : Paco Park and Cemetery). Along with the sculpture is an obelisk with three stars on top to symbolize Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao
The three stars on top of the Obelisk
. The monument depicts Rizal in overcoat holding a book, that represent his novels Noli Me Tángere and El filibusterismo.
The perimeter of the monument is guarded continuously by the Philippine Marine Corps’ Marine Security and Escort Group, the changing of the guard having become a daily ritual. The Front marker of the Rizal Monument
Historical marker in front of the monumentThe Rizal monument could have been a picture-perfect view but the Torre De Manila ruins everything indeed. The Torre de Manila has been considered as an eyesore by its critics and we couldn’t agree more.But you know what, there’s always a way to remove this Photobomber without Photoshopping the picture and you can do so by looking for the right angle. You can either take a selfie and block the view where the Torre De Manila can be seenOr better yet look for the spot where you can manipulate the details and hide the Torre de Manila much like what I did on the picture above.
It was really a great journey we had there. Exploring the entire park could be very exhausting but generally fun. There’s just too many areas to explore and we actually missed some interesting spots in Luneta (that calls for another Manila tour). After the Rizal Park, we headed to another interesting destination in Manila but before that, I’ll take you to two of the attractions here in Luneta for my next #LetsExploreManila entry.
Le’s check out the Dioramas in Rizal Execution sites in my next entry!
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In case you missed an entry, here are the rest of the entries you might want to read.
LET’S EXPLORE MANILA TRAVEL SERIES
►Let’s Explore Manila Prologue
►Journey to the Past – Intramuros Part 1
►Journey to the Past – Intramuros Part 2
►The Papier Tole Souvenir Shop
►Intramuros In Black and White
►Go Hotel Otis : A Traveler-Friendly Budget Hotel In the Metro
►Paco Park and Cemetery
►The Historical Rizal Park (Luneta Park)
►The Rizal Execution Site
►The Chinese Garden
►The Manila Zoo and the Current Condition of Mali
►Baluarte De San Andres and Baluarte De San Diego of Intramuros
►The Seven Great Churches of Intramuros
►The Manila Baywalk