Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heavy turbulence on Rizal Park

As we know, Rizal Park is overrated. People hear it from everyone then they decide to visit the place, only to find themselves bored and thinking "This is it?" It's a 54 hectare park, the largest urban park in Asia and this is just it?" Of course no one would blame how people would think.

It's extremely hotter than usual nowadays, families would rather bathe on resorts. The only way one could convince another to choose a walk on a park over a beach is to, well, put a beach in the park. Security was always an issue, with all those pickpocket blokes roaming like vultures. And most of all, there's nothing on the park itself, only old statues of persons whose nameplates were stolen and animals that children of today won't even recognize. Your kids will likely choose their computer or game console than go to parks.

I know this because I go to Rizal Park. I was here a month ago and many times before. Yes, there are still people and families every time I go here, plenty of them. And yes, it puts a smile on my face because of the thought that others still know we have Rizal Park. Certainly, some people still think "malls are stupid, let's go to the park". Its also nice to see people from other countries walking around, gazing at the statue of Lapu-Lapu, saying "ooh, so this is Rizal".

Then I was invited by National Parks and Development Committee last Saturday for a Luneta tour. Surprisingly, a month after my last visit, Rizal Park already made dramatic changes. The relief map of the Philippines for example, which was in drought in years, is now in the process of being fitted with board walk, so everybody would have a closer look of the country's topography. I'd have to say, even if it's not done yet, this would be stunning, and even more with a cafe on the side of the area.

Prior to the board walk, UP students repainted the children's playground's dinosaurs with staggering colors. Of course, you wouldn't have noticed this, but CNN did, they actually featured it. 

It gets better. After the short tour, we were entertained in an open forum by NPDC director herself, Juliet Villegas, at a cozy place called Vin. I was glad I came to this event but not because of the food. The Philippines is about to commemorate our national hero's 150th birthday, and no, not Lapu-Lapu's, so NPDC thought "why, obviously, it is right and proper that the best place to celebrate Rizal's birthday is in Rizal Park!"

The board walk over the relief map might be a good preparation for the upcomming event. Fitting the dancing water fountain with more colorful lights and more pumps would surely attract people of all ages, including me. But this would be effortless for Rizal's 150th birthday. If he was alive, he could have just done the boardwalk and fountain himself. Except for the boardwalk obviously. And maybe the lights on the fountain. The pumps would be tricky for him too. Kidding aside, NPDC needs to do more.

So they thought "why don't we have entertainment on our parks?". With that in mind, they have invited Cirque du Soleil to perform here in Manila. No big deal, not to mention Cirque du Soleil has performed in places we barely even know, like Vegas, Montreal, Macau, Los Angeles and many others.

You might think "No, this isn't a place for a computer geek like me", but the chaps at NPDC thought of that already, that's why they are planning on having the whole park WIFIed. Yes, it's for people who cant get enough of Facetube, or MyFace, and Beebo. Sure, NPDC isn't satisfied with just that, they already anticipated the volume of people visiting Rizal Park soon, and the more people, the longer the queue in the wash room. So they've improved it very, very well, good news for my friend Sam. They also have 100 police men and women watching the park at their disposal, 50 more than what they usually have. Including policemen who knows how to speak to foreigners who think Lapu-Lapu's statue is Jose Rizal.
So back to my point, I was glad I attended that Saturday, not just because of these changes on the parks, but because now I have something to look forward to. As you might notice from my blog, not that it is as unattractive as an open wound, I like photography, and Luneta, Intramuros, UST and the other urban parks and a few places were I find it most interesting to take pictures and capture moments, places that are underrated-covered-overrated.