RIZAL PARK (LUNETA PARK)
Rizal Park is like an oasis for relaxation and fun in the midst of Manila and situated next to Intramuros. Rizal Park has gardens, historical markers, plazas, a grand stadium, an observatory, an open-air concert hall, an artists’ sanctuary, a light-and-sound theatre, restaurants, food kiosks and playgrounds, and dozens of fountains. Rizal Park is in the heart of Manila’s thriving financial, commercial, industrial and institutional centers, overlooking the famous and picturesque Manila Bay. The park was a tribute to the Philippine’s national hero, Jose Rizal, a doctor and novelist who was shot by firing squad at this site on December 30, 1896 on charges of fomenting local rebellion against the Spanish government. However the Philippines declared its freedom from Spain on June 12, 1898 but the American forces quickly replaced the Spanish colonizers. The US granted the Philippines its freedom on July 4, 1946 , after the defeat of Japanese forces in the country.
At the center of it all is the 1913 bronze Rizal’s monument situated a few meters away from the marker indicating the actual execution site.
An honor guard is on duty 24 hours a day. Behind the monument, the original Spanish version of the poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” is engraved, along with translations in other languages. Rizal wrote this poem while imprisoned in his cell in Fort Santiago from November 3, 1896 to December 29, 1896.
Many national dedication days are held in front of the Rizal monument. It is also where foreign leaders attend wreath-laying ceremonies during state visits.
The park is divided into three sections beginning with the 16-hectare Agrifina Circle adjoining Taft Avenue, where the Department of Tourism and the National Museum of the Filipino People (formerly the Department of Finance) are located; followed by the 22-hectare park proper that extends down to Roxas Boulevard; and terminating at a 10-hectare open field across Roxas Boulevard fronting Quirino Grandstand along the Manila Bay.
The 31-meter Philippine flagpole is called kilometer zero, because it is where the distance of the country’s towns and cities is measured from. Just beside the flagpole is Rizal monument, where foreign leaders attend wreath-laying ceremonies during state visits.
It is also where Manuel Roxas, first President of the Republic, was sworn in on July 4, 1946.From the Rizal monument, one can see the Quirino Grandstand, the Manila Bay, Manila Hotel, Army Navy Club, the Gallery of National Heroes, and San Lorenzo Ruiz Plaza, in honor of Lorenzo Ruiz who is considered by the Catholic Church as the first Filipino saint.
On the northern side of the park is the Lights and Sounds of Rizal – an audio-visual and three-dimensional diorama of Rizal’s execution, consisting of life-size sculptures by Eduardo Castrillo. The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, a Light and Sound Sculptural Tableau is a “living” memorial honoring the Philippine’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. The tableau is an open-air theater presentation, featuring a 30-minute dramatization of the most poignant moments of Rizal’s final hours, through 8 monumental sculptural clusters in an interplay of light and sound.