When In Manila, do what other countries’ dignitaries do, visit The Rizal Park – formerly known as Luneta Park – and pay heed to history. Admit it, you can probably count in your hands the number of times you have visited the park and I can honestly say, I have been to this park perhaps just 5 times in my entire 13 years of stay here in Manila, and yes that includes University years.
I did not grow up in the Metro and certainly did not have the chance to join educational tours that would eventually stop at Rizal Park. I learned about it in books, seen pictures, heard stories but the worst connotation about the word “Luneta” stuck to me a few years back. Perhaps we can safely blame the news and movies on this one.
I am no hypocrite as not so long ago if someone would ask me about Luneta Park, I would bluntly say: it is unsafe because you could get mugged, it’s dirty, people go there to date – not that there is anything wrong dating there with matching HHWWPSSP (Holding Hands While Walking, Pa-Sway-Sway Pa), or perhaps it’s a place where couples have more than enough extracurricular activities, safely put extreme PDA.
But a lot has changed since then and I have had the privilege to know Luneta Through Time.
In the words of the members of Paradiso Group under Professor Roel Chan for Tour 151 class (Marketing Management in Tourism) in the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Luneta Through Time aims to relive the Philippine’s history through its culture, cuisine and performances in Luneta Park.
Realization knocking at our doors once again, we have a lot of malls around the metro and we lack parks. Instead of us heading to a park and bask under the mighty sun, we pay heed to the confines of air-conditioning, shops and perhaps aimlessly walk through 5 flights to kill time. Never minding that Luneta Park or Rizal Park today has been transformed to what it is now: Safe, Clean and Maintained.
Albeit part of the requirement in their class, the Paradiso Group’s project may have been a one day event for now but it aims higher, they see the need to further engage people in Filipino history and culture and promote Philippine Parks especially Luneta. Perhaps the lack for a better drive to get our attention to take a look at Luneta Park with fresh eyes maybe answered by this project.
If this gets pursued and further developed, we would get closer to the real purpose of Luneta or Rizal Park.
But for the meantime, here’s what we got in the 2 hour tour:
The attendees were treated with a picnic while being serenaded by 3 talented university students rendering beautiful songs.
Demonstrations from a Filipino Martial Arts group: Summit of Kali Brotherhood.
A poignant reminder of our Filipino culture through Filipiniana dance by UP Filipiniana.