Also known as Rizal Park after Philippines' national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, Luneta Park could be considered the symbolic ... More
Also known as Rizal Park after Philippines' national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, Luneta Park could be considered the symbolic seat of the nation's heart and soul. A beautiful green space, the park is spread out over some 60 hectares (148 acres) of gardens, wooded areas and open spaces, drawing crowds from all walks of life. Points of interest include the Rizal Monument , the Site of Rizal's Execution , the central pool and fountains, the Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden , and a huge relief map showing the whole Philippine archipelago. The National Library and National Museum are next door.
Luneta (Rizal) Park is a bastion of green in a city of grey, brown and black. The park is designed to be open, spacious and inviting for family outings. There is a section which has a diorama of the islands that comprise the Philippines sticking out of a large fountain pool. Unfortunately, when I was there last the fountain was dredged and barren, so it looked as though the once proud display hadn't been maintained in decades. Equally, while the main lawn and fountain areas leading to the Rizal monument are relatively nice, the side attractions of the Japanese and Chinese gardens are deplorable at best. I don't know if there is no money to upkeep the garden, or if people have just forsaken it entirely, but it doesn't even qualify as a garden in my opinion since there was hardly anything living there when I was there.
So in essence, if you are looking for an escape from the concrete and pollution, there are things to do, and sitting out on the lawn that surrounds the main fountain would make for a nice picnic with scenic views of old Manila, but don't expect to see much else in working order. Kind of anticlimactic...
On a number of visits to PI, I made many friends in the Park, debated there, led a campaign to have debating restored when the authorities suppressed it, and much else.
But the Park, and Manila, have deteriorated in two ways: First, for an English-speaking foreigner, the deline of English means that there are many there now who cannot speak with you. Second, the air pollution has gradully reached the point that it is oppressive--sometimes one can actually smell it.
I liked the location of the Park. It is near a couple of Museums as well as a short cab ride to the Mall of Asia. The park was well laid out and the people were friendly. The side parks could hav had more flowers to make them even more beautiful. there are plenty of vendors there also. They no longer allow one to get close to the statue which is now guarded. The decline of English was not noticeable to me as my companions spoke it quite well. Many did use the dialect tagalog though. I see no problem with that as it is a dialect of their home language. Most filipinos are multi lingual. I can only speak English, very impressed with there compasion and hospitality.