Travel: Visiting Rizal Park in Manila

13 May 2016

When we visited the National Museum and the Museum of the Filipino People last May 5th (see the posts here and here), we knew that we needed more time to visit Rizal Park and its environs.  Today was the day we came back for more.  We started around 4PM to avoid the hot summer sun and we ended our walking tour around 6PM.  It was enough to visit most of the attractions between the Quirino Grandstand and Luneta, but ideally, we should have taken more time to include the ones opposite the Museum of the Filipino People. Read on for more of our adventure.

Just to give you an overview of how huge Rizal Park is, let's take a look at a map from Google.  I've indicated parking areas, main streets and the attractions that you can find there so you can decide how you want to begin your own adventure.  For our part, we parked at "B" (paying P40 flatrate) so we followed an easterly path.  We weren't able to visit the rest of attractions across the Ma. Orosa street, like the Children's Playground (O) and the Relief Map of the Philippines (P).

From our parking space, we walked to the Philippine Flag(Pole) which is the tallest flagpole in the country, standing 50 meters high.   We passed by this replica of the sculpture called "Dancing Rings" by Jose Datuin.  It won first place in the 2008 International Olympic Committee Sport and Art Contest at Lausanne, Switzerland.

In order to take a full picture of the Philippine Flagpole (C), we had to do it from across the street.  It's too bad that the Torre De Manila condominium building in the background ruined the landscape.

Before you cross the street to get to the other side, check out the Memorial Clock (B) which marks the Centennial of Philippine Masonry and all its achievements.

We then headed across the street for the Rizal Monument.  We picked the right time to visit since there weren't that many visitors so we were able to get a clear shot and unobstructed view.

From the Rizal Monument we headed left, planning on going clockwise around the whole area to get back to our car in the end.  We passed by the area where the life-sized dioramas of Rizal's final moments were staged, however, this exhibit was closed to the public.  Close to it was this marker, for Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora's execution during the Spanish era. On a side note, there is a public restroom in this area.  It's clean and well-maintained.

Moving forward, we come to the Chinese Garden (F).  This is a private tourist destination so you need to pay an entrance fee of P10 per person.  Walking inside the garden made me forget that I was in the middle of the city, honestly.  Everything is green and fresh and quiet.  I understand why there are some people who are literally sleeping on the benches around the area.  The breeze is calming and soothing and it's just really conducive to relaxing.  There are many picturesque spots that you can't help but take photos.  It's a great place to learn and upgrade skills in photography :)


Decorative art on the ceiling (the kids called it "The Dragon Scroll")

From within the Chinese Garden, you could actually see the National Museum Planetarium (G) but the path is closed because it is being renovated.  This is the landmark for entry and exit into the Chinese Garden.  The sound of that small waterfall is music to my ears.

When you leave the Chinese Garden, you'll come next to the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium (H).  We actually heard music as we were walking along the Chinese Garden and this was where it was coming from.  I suppose this a place where they hold concerts or plays.

While walking around Rizal Park, you'll find many busts like these.  They are of Filipino figures that have had an impact on our culture and history.   

Next stop was the Japanese Garden (K).  This is another private institution in Rizal Park and the entrance fee is also P10.  They expect you to put your ticket in a ticket box as you enter.  :)  The Japanese Garden is not as encompassing as the Chinese Garden.  It's still reminiscent of Japan and I was sort of expecting to hear the sound of crickets or that sound you hear in anime when it's tranquil and serene.

There is a shrine near the bridge.  It's hard to see, but it says on the stone tablet, "From Hiroshima".  There isn't any other plaque or sign to explain.  

Moving toward the entrance/exit, there is a pathway that leads to an open stage of sorts.  At that time, there were students or friends rehearsing a dance number.  After that part, we found some benches for resting just outside of the rest rooms.  

From the Japanese Garden, we moved to turn back, sort of made a U-Turn.  There was more to see across the street but we didn't have enough time and it was getting dark.  Oh and by the way, there are a number of food stalls and kiosks around the place if you're interested in taking a break and having some snacks.  There are usually bottled water, juices, hotdog sandwiches, pizzas and fruit shakes.  We actually paused for some fruit shakes (P45 each).

In the middle of this area is an impressive water fountain that exhibits refreshing water acrobatics.  There is also a pigeon aviary near it.  A train goes around the park (in this area anyway).  You may chose to ride the whole way for P50 but if you want to get on and off at any point, it's P75.  Near the Rizal Monument, is the La Madre Filipina statue.

We crossed the street again and this time, we took pictures with the Tamaraw.  This is an iconic display as I remember it from my youth.  :)

We went up the steps from the Tamaraw and headed towards the Quirino Grandstand.  We can see signs for the Manila Ocean Park too.  This statue of St. Lorenzo Ruiz (A) may be undergoing reconstruction or renovation soon as it is all fenced up and looking in need of repairs.

So that's our adventure for the day.  It was tiring but fun.  Believe it or not, this was the first time I even got inside the Chinese and Japanese gardens and I've lived in Manila my whole life.  That is why this trip was so important because I wanted to see these attractions and I wanted my children to see them too.