Friday, March 1, 2013

Manila's Rizal Park

It's been over a month since I left the Philippines but I didn't get a chance to share all my adventures there. After visiting Intramuros, Kristin and I had our pedicab driver exit the gates of the Walled City and take the short 10-minute drive over to Rizal Park. Originally named Luneta Park, it was recently renamed in honor of Jose Rizal, who was executed here by the Spanish in 1896. A massive monument dedicated to his memory is the focal point of the park and an iconic image of the Philippines; it was here that the Philippines declared its independence from the United States in 1946 (of course, on the 4th of July).
Rizal Park is one of Manila's primary tourist attractions but it is also hugely popular with locals. The massive park is divided into three sections: the 16-hectare Teodora F. Valencia Circle, the 22-hectare Central Section, and the 10-hectare open field and Quirino Grandstand fronting Manila Bay. On any given day, hundreds of people can be found having a picnic, holding meetings, exercising, or just passing through Rizal Park. Not to mention that the park serves as a venue for a diverse range of events, from concerts to movies to fairs.
When Kristin and I arrived, we were surprised to find that the park was indeed hosting some sort of fair. There were people everywhere enjoying foodstands, live music, and more. I think our two favorites were the balloon man pictured above and this strange man that was dancing up a storm; I'm pretty sure he was not a real performer but had taken up center stage in front of a DJ booth and attracted plenty of fans.

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