The robust jeepney blaze through the traffic, the streets are full, the sidewalks are filled with people from all walks of life. Some in business suits, some students, some beggars. Out of the melody of this commotion, the jeepney honked its horn and the driver said “Luneta”.
To this place lies a hero who spilt his blood for freedom we now enjoy, a person who believed that the youth is the future of our nation. Like the Nilads (a type of flowering mangrove) that once grew on the shores of Manila and to where the city got its name (Maynilad); Is patriotism now gone in the hearts of our youth to which the heroes of yesterday died for?
Is it not sad, I said to my countrymen, that we have to learn from a foreigner about ourselves?
-Dr. Jose Rizal
Luneta Park: A Place Full of Lovers and Martyrs
Amidst the buzzling activities of the city lies voices, stories written on markers, embedded on walls and monuments wishing to be heard and to be retold to the next generations. In realizing that I actually barely know the capital city of my country I decided to explore to visit the places where events shaped to who we are today.
And so it happened that after realizing that I reached Luneta Park I hopped of the jeepney and seen a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) just waiting for a tourist to take a ride, the sight was tempting to hop in but I chose not to since I wanted to observe people and the place in general.
Known to many this is the place where Dr. Jose Rizal was sentenced to death by firing squad on 30 December 1896 but few knew that this is the place where GOMBURZA (Mariano Gomez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora) the Three Filipino priests that were executed on 17 February 1872. Today the place is now hallowed having markers and monuments built for them.
Once an execution ground, Luneta Park now serves a an ideal place for families to bond together, to where friends hang-out together, for lovers to exchange sweet nothings together. A place that is really different from what I saw from books, a place so different from what I was told about.
I then proceeded to Malacañang Palace where the President resides and holds his office. I intended to visit the Presidential Library and Museum but due to security purposes I was asked to send a letter of request to the Presidential Security Group to allow me to enter the grounds and the museum, A letter I already sent and now waiting for approval.
I eventually returned to Luneta Park again to see the atmosphere at night and to my surprise it even gets livelier when fountains dance to the beat of the music and lights joins the symphony as well as occasional bursts of flames jiving to the rhythm.
The National Museum
Art is an evidence, a showcase of how the people of yesterday lived, it is an expression of their way of living, their struggles, their joys. The exhibits that are displayed on each room represents the life of our ancestors and how their way of living shaped ours. The entrance to the museum is free and it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
I am not that detailed on appreciating art but art does draws out my feeling to a certain idea or subject and of all the pieces exhibited it is the Spoliarium of Juan Luna that spoke to my heart. To me it signifies the cultural divide in between the merrymaking of spectators and the loneliness of perhaps family members are fallen gladiators that loosed their lives just to live as freemen. Aren’t we not different?; seeking freedom being more than willing to put our life on the line.
Intramuros: If Only My Walls Could Talk
If ever walls could talk, the walls of Intramuros will share the most stories and not a doubt everyone will listen. Intramuros is the most interesting place to visit atleast for me since it holds a lot of history before and after the walls were built from pre-hispanic period to the Spanish Colonial Period and when America colonized the Philippines until we gain our freedom. The place is filled with historic buildings churches and educational institutions. A day will never be enough to digest its colorful past.
Intramuros is quite a huge place and because of my limited time I just decided to do an ocular of the area and I will return for a more detailed tour. After the sun bid farewell to the day a cup of tea within a café inside a room within the wall allowed me to contemplate on how the day went. It is my first time being here and I did learn a lot.
Chinatown: Finishing the Day With Noodles
After a tiring day of walking without an actual itinerary to follow a treat from a local restaurant will soothe everything and the best place to eat will be in Manila Chinatown.
Ongpin Street definitely has a lot of good food to try but a local referred me to Café Mezzanine a popular place dubbed as the volunteer fireman’s coffee shop. The staff are warm and they suggested to try Siopao Asado and Beef Wanton Noodles that actually hit my palate on target! The Siopao’s color is purple and it is not from food color but because it is mixed with purple yam to add more flavor.
I may have walked through various locations within Manila City but I barely scratched the surface. I will definitely be back exploring more. If you have been here let me know more because it is very evident how rich this place is since not so many cities brag a collection of historical markers almost on every corner or every street.
The Philippine Flag held up high, 150 meters up and illuminated symbolizing a free country. I then went home with a renewed sense of patriotism. To answer the hero’s question; Yes! it would be really sad to discover something or to know ourselves better through a foreigner’s eyes. One thing that was taught to me by this city walk is that with the rich past and a vibrant future we stand as guardians of our heritage today. We must know well that we need to protect our history and it is our duty to pass this on to our posterity with all its grandeur and by so doing adding our own story. All of these wit a drive and a dream where the wall will remain standing proud, and hopefully Nilads will once again grow in the city.