A vast acre of land surrounded by a canopy of trees where flowers bloom at its peak and signage of "Bawal pumitas ng bulaklak." (Picking flowers is prohibited) prominently displayed, refuses to leave my memory bank as I recall the elementary textbooks' depiction of the Luneta Park also known as the Rizal Park.

For most residents of the metro, I bet only a few would take the time to leisurely walk on this historical urban park for varied personal and "reputational" reasons.  As for me, this is the time to validate of what these elementary textbooks have imprinted in my mind.

Dubbed as one of the major tourist attractions in the City of Manila, the Luneta Park is frequented every Sunday and national holidays by quite a number of families, friends and lovers.  While there are horse-drawn carriage (known as kalesa), parked within the vicinity and a ride offered for a minimal fee, a leisurely long walk is advised for a more intimate discovery of the park, not to mention visiting the place without a single centavo to shell out.

Commencing the trip at Philippine's kilometer zero along the Roxas Boulevard of Manila is the suggested game plan.  The marker is situated across the Rizal Monument and tallest flagpole in the Philippines and serves as the point from which all road distances from Manila are measured.

the Philippine flag stands proud in the skies

the Rizal Monument with guards on duty bearing the scorching heat of the sun

One can never leave the iconic Rizal Monument uncrowded.  Being one of the most visited and photographed landmark, photographers and visitors stay at varied vantage points as if guarding the statue armed with snipers.  The statue of Dr. Jose Rizal is surrounded by a number of flagpoles as well, amidst a vast expanse of well-maintained garden painted in green.

Rizal Monument facing Roxas Boulevard
As soon as the mandatory photo sessions with the iconic landmark has ended, the park will be a venue to various activities as well.  And as the walk continues, I can't help but locate where the flowers are situated in the park, as depicted on my elementary textbooks.  Unfortunately, the mission was unsuccessful as nowhere in the park are there flowering plants as per my expectations.

Nevertheless, the cleanliness of the park with solar lamps installed complemented by a shade of trees is already worth the leisurely walk as we breathe a relatively fresh air in a perceived polluted Metro Manila.

The park is further a home to various Filipino martial arts and various physical fitness groups, some doing aerobics and jogging.  We were even able to witness dancers rehearsing their routines near the Lapu-Lapu Monument known as the Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom.

The Lapu-Lapu Monument was a gift from Korea as appreciation and honor to the Filipinos who helped during the Korean War in the 1950s.

Apart from the prominent Lapu-Lapu and Rizal Monument there are various monuments on display as well, making the park a historical tour apart from a leisurely walk at the onset.

La Madre Filipina
The statue of the La Madre Filipina was first unveiled in the year 1921.  The said statue is a part of a set of four sculptures that depicted Filipina motherhood which adorned the pillars of Jones Bridge.  Only three survived after World War II and that two of the statues were relocated within the Court of Appeals complex.

Walking is indeed a tiresome activity.  Like any other parks in the Philippines, there are food stalls that surround the vicinity to cater to the needs of the visitors.  There are some who places mats and hold picnics with their friends and families and yet there are a number of lovers explicitly showing public display of affection at various levels as we may brand the act.

The Rizal Park at night is further a surprise.  The musical dancing fountain that sits at the center of the park is a good venue for meditation and entertaining the idea of being entertained (for those declaring themselves to have a miserable life).

Even by just sitting down at one of the benches of the park where the fountains are located, the Luneta Park experience is truly relaxing sans the notions of being just another dating place.

The Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium also provides free entertainment featuring shows of mixed performances from dance, theater and musical rendition both from local and foreign artists.

Indeed, it's about time we change the negative preconceived notions labeled to the Luneta Park.  Whether we admit it or not, a number of residents in the metro would never bother to drop by the park as it provides a provincial setting which to them serves as a rendezvous for nannies on day off, people from the rural areas who need space for their respective activities and lovers eager to express their feelings towards each other.

With the simple cause of validating the visual depiction of the Luneta Park on our elementary textbooks, a more thorough discovery faced my curious wandering soul and I'm glad I appreciated it.  

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  1. The other name of this park is Rizal Park and it’s located at Philippines. I visited there before grand canyon bus tours. No other place in the heart of Manila can one find serenity and diversity than in the 53-hectare Rizal Park. An excellent area for a stroll or walk in park. This can be a very relaxing outdoor park with its monument of Roxas Boulevard so must visit this park when you go to Philippines.