While I was at Nan Lian Garden in Hong Kong three years ago, I remember thinking (or rather, ranting) about the lack of similar parks in Manila where one can relax or unwind if he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Apparently I just didn’t know where to look.
One morning, I woke up a little too late for my 7.30 AM class and justifying myself and making up excuses, I decided to cut class the whole day. I think I was feeling a bit under the weather during those days and though a bit guilty, I believe my parents would forgive me as long as I don’t fail any subjects. Since I didn’t want to spend the whole day in bed and feel worse, I decided to go out and explore a place that one wouldn’t normally explore alone because well, you’re more prone to snatchers (ye, even in broad daylight). Yes, it’s Rizal Park.
The weather was cooperating because it was unusually cool and windy, perfect for long walks and people-watching. I wasn’t really expecting much. My mother used to tell me that my grandpa used to bring them to the park during weekends for picnics. I imagined Rizal Park was closer to the parks I read in books during that time. Nowadays however, the only stories I hear about the place are couples displaying their affection too publicly, the homeless sleeping everywhere and the disturbingly normal anecdotes of hold-ups.
Boy I was surprised. For starters it was clean. And aside from sidewalk vendors who don’t force you to buy from them and photographers who offer to take your pictures using outdated cameras (ah, brings back memories!), the surrounding was peaceful. No beggars. No scary looking guys.
I’ve been to Rizal Park twice or thrice in the past, all of them out of a school requirement and not of my own volition. It was only during my latest visit that I realized how huge the park is. It’s much more than the Philippine Map and Rizal’s Monument. There are maybe half a dozen gardens within and for a very minimal fee (the most expensive was 30 pesos, I think), you can have peace right smack at the heart of Manila.
I first thought that this train that goes around the area is for free only to find out that it costs 50 pesos for one round. Nah, I’d rather walk.
Kanlungan ng Sining is probably my favorite among all the places in Rizal Park. The atmosphere was so laid back and I saw a few artists engrossed in their art. Plus, there’s this place in the middle where you can lie down and not care about the world.
Nature and concrete CAN co-exist. Next time I swear I’m bringing a blanket and someone to make muni with. #arte
I was too early for the light show showcasing Rizal’s Execution. And our national hero photobombed by a condominium (I think Carlos Celdran is victorious and construction on the building is halted tho).I don’t know why but this picture reminded me of friends who are so passionate about our country. Ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo.
A little more walking and I found myself facing Luneta Hotel. I badly wanted to go in, have coffee or eat a meal in its restaurant or maybe even check in but I don’t have enough money to sustain my fantasy. Also, I think the tarpaulin with hearts should be removed because it messes with the elegance of the building. I ended up eating lunch at a nearby Family Mart. The sushi was okay but the revel bar was divine. So warm and gooey (ask the staff to heat it up for you).The people I saw around were mostly students shooting something for a project or practicing Sabayang Pagbigkas, couples on a date, a few foreigners and other lone wolves like me. Oh, I saw a family or two having picnics and I wish I had mine with me.
It’s time to end our obsession with shopping malls and start going outside.