PicturePhoto by Maria Velli Badillo
By Maria Velli Badillo

As soon as you enter Rizal Park, it is quite astonishing to see how spacious it is. The plants are luscious green and well-trimmed, music can be heard from a bench you choose to sit in and different colorful horse-carriages, locally know as kalesas, can be seen parading around the park. It is definitely a place that could offer silence and excitement for tourists or Filipinos alike.

A couple of years ago, I never found the time to fully explore Manila. It felt too laborious and I settled to a plain mall visit. A few months ago, when I was working, I came go to the office very early and had nothing to do. I remembered that Luneta (commonly called by the locals) was nearby and curiously strolled to it. The park was enveloped by sunlight and joggers were zooming through the place. I heard the music embracing the place and saw a line of empty benches; I bought a cup of cheap coffee from a nearby vendor and listened to Manila wake up.  I had a full hour left and decided to see the stretch of the park. Apart from the uniformed plant boxes, you could see a planetarium, several fountains, an animal-kingdom-themed playground, an amphitheatre and the Chinese and Japanese gardens.

PictureThe king of Manila road | Photo by Velli Badillo
In the heart of Manila, her roads are full of students scurrying towards their school, swear-laced workers are trudging through the pavement and jeepneys are the king of the roads, hidden between the towering buildings, Rizal Park stands as a seducing beacon for the weary and curious explorers. 

The park is also an important site in the history of the Philipines, it is this place on December 30, 1896 that our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was executed by a firing squad. It is located along Roxas Boulevard, adjacent to the bustling walled-city of Intramuros.  The Kilometer Zero, the point from which all road distances from Manila are measured, is also located in the Rizal Monument inside Luneta. 

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