Rizal Park Case Study
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Luneta, or literally little moon, is a 58-hectare historical park overlooking the famous and stunning Manila bay, located at the zero kilometer mark in the midst of a busy and thriving city. For many decades, it was used by the Spaniards as execution grounds for Filipino rebels and mutineers. Through the years, it has bear witness to deaths injudiciously delivered. But today, through some restoration and renovation works, it is now one of the most treasured landmarks in the country. It is now a site of heritage jewels that portrays the rich tale of Philippine history and its patriotic characters. HISTORY
The history of Rizal Park began in the early 1800s during the Spanish rule. Even though Manila’s social and business activities were confined within Intramuros, a small area just south of the walls was cleared to prevent sneak attacks from the patriotic natives. The area was shaped like a small moon (lunette), thus it was named Luneta. The Park was also called Bagumbayan (New Town) during the Spanish colonial era. Over the years, the park has been the site of some of the most significant moments in Philippine history such as the execution of Dr. José Rizal; Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule; and the political rallies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino.
On September 28, 1901, the Philippine Assembly approved Act No. 243 — an act “granting the right to use public land upon the Luneta in the city of Manila upon which to erect a statue of Jose Rizal”. After more than twelve years after the approval of the act, the shrine was finally unveiled on December 30, 1913 during Rizal’s 17th death anniversary.
Rizal Park is bordered by Burgos Street, Taft Avenue, Roxas Avenue, and T.M. Kalaw. Going there is easy because of the availability of different kinds of public transportation. One could easily get to Rizal Park by riding a taxi (flagdown rate is at P40). One could also ride a jeepney bound for Taft Avenue (if from Monumento and Manila, Baclaran (if from Lawton/City Hall area), Quiapo (if from Cubao and EDSA-Taft MRT Station), or Divisoria (if from Taft Avenue or SM Mall of Asia); and get down at one of the roads bordering Rizal Park. One could also ride the LRT1 Yellow Line (accessible through jeepney rides or transferring from the MRT or LRT2) going to Taft Avenue, get down at U.N. Station, and walk towards T.M. Kalaw. Do take precautionary measures in crossing the street to get to Rizal Park as there are no pedestrian lanes. There are also no signboards pointing to Rizal Park from the LRT1 station, so ask around in order not to get lost. Another option is to ride a FX bound for Sucat-Lawton or Quiapo and ask to be dropped at Luneta or Rizal Avenue, respectively.
Rizal park is situated at the Northern tip of Roxas Boulevard, at the heart of Philippine’s capital, Manila. Within it lies the most famous monument of Rizal which is what the park is most known for. In front of this monument is where the Kilometer Zero or the 0 km point is found, the starting point of all roads, cities, and places in the country.
Aside from being a popular urban park for unwinding and relaxation, Rizal Park oozes of history and culture from way back the 1800s, during the Spanish Era. This is what mostly draws visitor to the park whenever there are no other events scheduled to be held in the park.
Rizal Park is the land where Dr. Jose P. Rizal, one of the most important men in the country’s history, as well as the three Filipino priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza) died martyrs by the hands of the Spanish colonizers. A monument was erected in honor of Rizal, which has been a popular photo-op for tourists and locals alike; it is even featured in most Philippine postcards. The monument also holds his remains. To the north of the Rizal monument, at the exact spot where Rizal was shot, is a diorama filled with huge metal statues that depict the last significant moments of Rizal’s life including his death. The Light and Sound Show performed during the night remind and educate the viewers about Rizal.
The flagpole in front of the Rizal monument also plays a great importance in the country’s history; it is not just some ordinary flagpole. The Independence Flagpole, as it is called, is where the Philippines was officially granted independence from the United States.
The National Museum is also within the vicinity of the park. It houses a wide collection of significant findings, inventions, and creations in both the arts and sciences. Visiting the museum will take one back to pre- colonial Philippines and even more to the period of Spanish occupancy in the country. One of the most popular paintings housed in the National Museum is the Spoliarium by Juan Luna. It is a massive, standing at a height of four meters and length of seven meters, and is arguably the most internationally renowned Philippine mural. It is said that the painting, which depicts bodies of dead gladiators, shows the horrors that the Philippines was experiencing under
the reign of the Spaniards.
Within the park are also kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) which will take the customer anywhere in the park and even to the walled city Intramuros at a price. The kalesas allow visitors to relive the Spanish colonial period, as this was the main mode of transport back then. There are also a lot of vendors selling food, refreshments, and souvenirs so one could take a quick break from touring or strolling the park. Also, during Sunday mornings, Filipino martial artists use the park to practice the traditional Filipino martial arts, eskrima which is also known as arnis.
Despite the importance of Rizal Park, it remains undervalued by Filipinos. According to Ka Doroy (Teordoro F. Valencia), previous vice chairperson of National Parks Development Committee: Few realize how Rizal Park symbolizes the neutral meeting ground of the national government and the government of the city of Manila. The President and the Mayor of Manila have had their differences off and on but they have never allowed Rizal Park to be part of that struggle for power. In a sense, city and national officials realize that Rizal Park is a people’s park, not a political arena for combat. Here, it is, that the varied segments of our fragmented society coalesce and live in harmony, even if momentarily. Few realize that Rizal Park is the mirror of our national greatness.
Also, the park is lined with trees of narrow leaves, giving less to no shade. Rizal Park only starts to bustle with activity during the late afternoon, when the sun starts to set and the temperature significantly cools down. There are noticeably more visitors during this time than during noon and early afternoon. A number of benches are placed around Rizal Park but they are usually unoccupied during noontime and early afternoon because of the heat. It is also notable that there is more soil than grass in the park, which results to formation of mud when it rains. Litter is also one of the major problems in the park because despite the numerous trash bins placed around the park, Filipinos remain undisciplined and throw their wastes wherever they want. This is particularly evident during Christmas, New Year countdown, Rizal Day, and other nationwide events. Last Christmas, it was reported by the NPDC that 50 truckloads of mixed garbage were collected from the area.
Rizal Park during Noon
There are a lot of attractions in Rizal Park, each offering something unique to the Filipino public. The entrance fees of the attractions (excluding Manila Ocean Park) are very cheap, ranging from P10-P50. If you are currently a student, it is quite handy to have your student I.D. as you can avail a student discount. Points of interest include: Chinese Garden
• From the outside, one would be able to see an ornate Chinese-style gate, carved with swirling dragons. As one enters the gate, lo and behold, a garden similar to the ones in old Peking. Along the lagoon, there are also pagodas and gazebos that are set off by red pillars and green-tiled roofs, decorated with different mythical figures.
Concert at the Park
• At the Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium, entertainment such as dance performances, musical performances, and theatrical performances are provided for free to the public by the National Parks Development Committee, Department of Tourism and the National Broadcasting Network.
Diorama of Rizal’s Martyrdom
• This contains life-size statues that depict the events in the life of Jose Rizal during his execution. Found here is the exact spot where Rizal was martyred.
Diorama of Rizal’s Martyrdom
Lights and Sounds Fountain Show
• An hour-long fountain show where the fountain dances with the music and the lights creating shapes and textures adding emotions to the music flow. Japanese Garden
• To promote friendship between Japan and the Philippines, this garden was built. It exhibits Japanese style gardens, lagoon, and bridge.
Located at Roxas Boulevard, in front of Rizal monument, the Kilometer Zero marker serves as the basis from where road distances in Manila are measured.
• Also known as the Statue of Freedom, the monument was a gift from the
Koreans to honor the Filipinos who helped Korea during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Manila Ocean Park
• Opened on March 1 of 2008, this oceanarium is located at the westernmost part of Luneta, behind Quirino Grandstand, and along Manila Bay.
• It holds programs featuring audio-visual shows and static exhibitions to disseminate astronomical information.
Museum of the Filipino People
• Located at the building north of Agrifina Circle, this contains the Anthropology and Archeology collections of the National Museum of the Philippines. National Library of the Philippines
• As the country’s premiere public library, it houses rich Filipiniana collections maintained by the librarians to preserve the institution as the country’s fountain of local knowledge and source of information for research and studies. National Museum of the Philippines
• Located on the northeastern tip of Rizal Park, this houses the natural history and ethnography museum of the Philippines.
National Museum of the Philippines
Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion
• In 1994, this one-hectare of land was dramatically transformed from a parking lot into a rainforest-like park that showcases the Philippines’ rich collection of orchid species and butterflies.
Relief map of the Philippines
• In the middle of a small man-made lake, erected is a giant raised-relief map of the Philippines, including the Scarborough Shoal, Kalayaan, and eastern part of Sabah.
NATIONAL PARKS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
The National Parks Development Committee is a government agency that is responsible for their’ beautification, development, preservation and maintenance of national parks in the Philippines, including Rizal Park.
As of June 2012, NPDC converted the park’s lampposts from the traditional lighting system to LED (light-emitting diode). According to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., “we are not lighting up Rizal Park because ghosts abound here and because we are scared of the dark. We are doing this because this piece of land is sacred. It was here where many noble Filipinos gave up their lives.” In addition, lampposts were changed to LED lights to make the park brighter at night while making it energy efficient.
As of November 2012, 30 close circuit television cameras (CCTV) was installed in Rizal Park. The installation of CCTV cameras within and around Rizal Park, from Quirino Grandstand until the LRT Station is a big investment made by NPDC in the hopes of enticing the public to visit the park because of its increased security. The CCTV cameras are high resolution with 360-degrees pan & zoom and operates 24/7. It also has the ability to make accurate predictions on the number of people within the park and it can also recognize a person should a sketch be provided to the system within the command center.
Apart from the CCTV cameras, there is also a “Quick Response System” in the park. With just a push of a button, the command center will be informed of the location of the incident so that a security team could respond to the situation. Through this, crimes may be prevented by the park visitors themselves. Also, Information and Help Desk System Kiosks can be found at the lobby of the NPDC office, police station near the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal, and the children’s playground. The kiosk features a digital touch screen that could be a source of information to the visitors of the park regarding the attractions that it houses. According to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., “to bring in more tourists to a tourist spot, peace and order must be guaranteed, just like in our Rizal Park. We have to give tourists our assurance that they are safe within the confines of our national park.”
The NPDC also holds many events in Rizal Park. Juliet Villegas, Executive Director of NPDC, has high hopes that these events will “dramatically grow the Luneta crowd and let people discover its new facilities and tourist attractions.” An example of these events would be the upcoming “Luneta Through Time”, a cultural event by the UP Asian Institute of Tourism Tour 151 Marketing Management class (in cooperation with NPDC, DOT, and Primer Group of Companies. It will showcase Philippine history through culture, food, film, and fashion. Other events by the NPDC are the Annual Rizal Park Photography Contest and the Paskong Pinoy.
BINHI NG KALAYAAN
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), it formally opened the Binhi ng Kalayaan Garden as the latest attraction at Rizal Park. Before the area was utilized, it was a bare and dull spot that was a probable target for garbage dumping. After spending roughly P10 million to renovate the area that has been neglected for many years, it is now the “No. 1 picnic area” for Filipino and foreign park-goers, and as a reception venue for special occasions.
The garden, located in the eastern section of Luneta, is now dotted with stone tables and chairs and barbeque grills under copses of trees. At the entrance, there are monuments dedicated to unnamed Filipino men and women who fought for the country’s freedom against the Spanish colonial rule. A two-story function facility and comfort rooms have also been erected in the garden.
Binhi ng Kalayaan Monument
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. commended NPDC’s action because Rizal Park was becoming the country’s “prototype” for public park development. According to Jimenez, a 54-hectare public park in the middle of the city is very rare in Asia. Therefore, it is important to continue to develop and redevelop the area. Also, continuing efforts to make the park more attractive is important to help draw local and foreign tourists to the capital. This year, the Department of Tourism aims to draw more than 5 million tourists abroad.
DMCI TORRE DE MANILA
Torre de Manila is a 41-storey high-rise condominium project of DMCI Homes that is planned to be built at Taft Avenue, just 40 meters away from from Rizal Park. Torre de Manila is actually clear of any violations under the national building code and other laws, and it even acquired a height clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority. There are also no heritage laws restricting the construction of buildings near
heritage sites such as Rizal Park.
DMCI Torre de Manila seen behind the Rizal Monument
According to a blog of Carlos Celdran, a Filipino tourist guide and a cultural activist, the problem is that:
The height of the DMCI Torre de Manila’s location behind Jose Rizal threatens to photobomb the monument. Making the Rizal monument secondary when one looks at it while promenading in FRONT of the Rizal Monument. (The Rizal Monument is oriented to face west and this is the angle where we are SUPPOSED to see it).
Rizal Park’s view will soon be destroyed if the construction of will finish because it will overwhelm Rizal’s monument. With this issue, concerned Filipinos expressed their desire to promote the conservation of Manila’s history and proper urban planning through making petitions. However, as posted on July 25, 2012 on Business World Online, according to Isidro Consunji, DMCI Holdings president and chief executive, they think they will push through the project because the Manila city council just had a few comments on the project which they will try to address. Consequently, if no solution will be presented and made, Rizal Park will be overwhelmed by the tower, destroying the view.
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