Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reflections of True Freedom in Luneta Park, Manila

Last Sunday, June 12, 2011, the country celebrated its 113th Independence Day and on June 19 it will commemorate national hero Dr. Jose Rizal's 150th birthday. About four months ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take a stroll along the place which played significant roles to these two historic events--the Luneta Park in Manila.

After the first module of our Real Estate Appraisal Program training in U.P. Diliman, we stayed at the Landbank Training Center in Intramuros for the weekend. It was a Saturday when we had our "historical walk" in Manila. From Intramuros, we went to Binondo China Town, Manila Cathedral and then Fort Santiago. After lunch we went back to the training center to get some rest. Because of the walking we did that morning, I slept for about two hours (zzzzzz).

At about 3 in the afternoon we walked our way from Landbank Training Center in Cabildo Street to Luneta Park. It was my first time to visit Luneta Park and I was really thankful for the opportunity. At last I had the chance to walk in the place which, before, I only read in history books.

I discovered that Luneta Park, now officialy called Rizal Park, actually occupies a very huge area. Within the park are Chinese and Japanese gardens, orchidarium and butterfly pavilion, several historical markers, plazas, a grand stadium, an observatory, a concert hall, an artists' sanctuary, a light-and-sound theatre, restaurants, food stalls, playgrounds, and dancing fountains. 

This place was formerly called Bagumbayan, an area outside the walls of Intramuros which was cleared to prevent attacks from native fighters. Since it is shaped like a small moon (lunette) it was later named Luneta.  It was then renamed Rizal Park as a tribute to the country's national hero.

Some historical events that happened in Luneta:

* The execution of three Filipino priests , Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (popularly known as Gomburza), on February 17, 1872. The three priests, more popularly known as Gomburza,  were accused of of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.

 The Gomburza marker in Luneta Park

* The execution of Dr. Jose Rizal on December 30, 1896. This event sparked the Philippine Revolution against Spain. Luneta was renamed Rizal Park and a granite and bronze monument was built to honor the national hero.

Located on the monument is the remains of Dr. Jose Rizal. His poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" ("My Last Farewell") is inscribed on the memorial plaque. The monument is guarded by ceremonial soldiers, known as Kabalyeros de Rizal (Knights of Rizal) round the clock.

* The full independence of the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed in the spot fronting the Rizal Monument on July 4, 1946.

It is also interesting to note that fronting the Rizal monument is the Kilometer Zero marker of the Philippines. This marker serves as the point from which road distances from Manila are measured.

A tired man seeks respite from the heat of the sun in this grandfather clock which fronts the Kilometer Zero marker.

In Luneta, I obeserved families on picnic, couples dating and several gatherings of friends. It is indeed a "place for the masses" where common folks can hang out and relax for free. On the other side, I was saddened to see some beggars and homeless people seeking refuge from the heat of the sun underneath some historical structures. Hunger and hopelessness are written all over their faces.  For me, this is a clear manifestation that though our heroes' sacrifices may have freed us from oppression,  poverty still holds a tight grip on many Filipinos today.  So tell me, are we really free?

A hungry man is not a free man.--ADLAI STEVENSON

Poverty is a noose that strangles humility and breeds disrespect for God and man.--NATIVE AMERICAN PROVERB


  1. Even before I love dropping by here just to watch people play chess underneath one of the trees, now that they renovated it - its even more appealing to spend a lazy afternoon in this place, time for Filipinos to live the 'parklife' and get out of the malls.

  2. @marky: Nice to know that. Hope I could visit the renovated park one day. These pics were taken last February pa kasi...Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Nice one earl. Its the same experience when I stepped on this famous and historical landmark in Manila, an inexplicable feeling of true freedom because of the work of our National Hero and giving his life for the rest of us and we enjoyed that freedom more than 100 years now.

  4. Isang beses pa lang yata ako nakakapunta dito at sobrang tagal na, hindi ko pa naikot buong park. Nasulit mo talaga pagpunta mo ng Manila :)

  5. @bon: i agree.a nice place to hang out and reflect about the sacrifices our heroes did for us to be free

  6. @lakwatsera: I never thought that Luneta Park is that huge. Di ra namin nalibot ang buong park pero, you're right, sulit talaga ang pagpunta namin sa Manila dahil marami akong napuntahan for the first time.


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