|Area||58 hectares (140 acres)|
|Administered by||National Parks Development Committee|
|Plants||3,497 trees (2015)|
|Species||112 tree species (2015)|
|Public transit access||United Nations|
Rizal Park (Filipino: Liwasang Rizal, Spanish: Parque Rizal), also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historic urban park located in Ermita, Manila. It is considered one of the largest urban parks in the Philippines, covering an area of 58 hectares (140 acres). The site on where the park is situated was originally known as Bagumbayan during the Spanish colonial period. It is adjacent to the historic Walled City of Intramuros.
Situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, the park plays a significant role in shaping the history of the Philippines. The execution of Filipino patriot José Rizal on December 30, 1896 in the same area fanned the flames of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. The park was officially named in his honor, and the monument enshrining his remains serves as the park's symbolic focal point. The declaration of Philippine independence from the United States was held here on July 4, 1946, as well as later political rallies, including those of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino, the latter having culminated in the EDSA Revolution in 1986.
Rizal Park's history began in 1820 when the Paseo de Luneta was completed just south of the walls of Manila on a marshy patch of land next to the beach during the Spanish rule. Prior to the park, the marshy land was the location of a small town called Nuevo Barrio ("New Town" or Bagumbayan in Tagalog) that dates back to 1601. The town and its churches, being close to the walled city, were strategically used as cover by the British during their attack. The Spanish authorities anticipated the danger posed by the settlements that immediately surrounded Intramuros in terms of external attacks, yet Church officials advocated for these villages to remain. Because of the part they played during the British Invasion, they were cleared after the short rule of the British from 1762 to 1764. The church of Bagumbayan originally enshrined the Black Nazarene. Because of the order to destroy the village and its church, the image was then transferred to San Nicolas de Tolentino inside Intramuros, with a copy then translated to Quiapo Church. This has since been commemorated by the Traslación of the relic every January 9, which is more commonly known as the Feast of the Black Nazarene. This is why the processions of January 9 have begun there in the park beginning in 2007. After the clearing of the Bagumbayan settlement, the area later became known as Bagumbayan Field where the Cuartel la Luneta (Luneta Barracks), a Spanish Military Hospital (which was destroyed by one of the earthquakes of Manila), and a moat-surrounded outwork of the walled city of Manila, known as the Luneta (lunette) because of its crescent shape.
West of Bagumbayan Field was the Paseo de la Luneta (Plaza of the Lunette) named after the fortification, not because of the shape of the plaza which was a long 100-by-300-meter (330 ft × 980 ft) rectangle ended by two semicircles. It was also named Paseo de Alfonso XII (Plaza of Alfonso XII), after Alfonso XII, King of Spain during his reign from 1874 to 1885. Paseo de la Luneta was the center of social activity for the people of Manila in the early evening hours. This plaza was arranged with paths and lawns and surrounded by a wide driveway called "La Calzada" (The Road) where carriages circulate.
During the Spanish period from 1823 to 1897 most especially in the latter part, the place became notorious for public executions. A total of 158 political enemies of Spain were executed in the park. On February 17, 1872, three Filipino priests, Mariano Gomez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza, were executed by garrote, accused of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.
It was during the American colonial period in the Philippines, when the Rizal Park's main landmark, the Rizal Monument was built. On September 28, 1901, the United States Philippine Commission approved Act No. 243, which would erect a monument in Luneta to commemorate the memory of José Rizal, Filipino patriot, writer and poet. The shrine was inaugurated on December 30, 1913, coinciding with Rizal's 17th death anniversary.
The park was also chosen as the site of a national government center by Daniel Burnham, architect and city planner, who was commissioned by William Taft to do the city plan of Manila in 1902. According to Burnham's plan, government buildings to be built in the park will have Neo-classical edifices with Greco-Roman columns. A large Capitol building, which was envisioned to be the Philippine version of the United States Capitol, was to become its core. It was to be surrounded by other government buildings, but only two of those buildings were built around Agrifina Circle, facing each other. They are the Department of Agriculture (now the National Museum of Anthropology) and the Department of Finance (later became the Department of Tourism and now the National Museum of Natural History). These two buildings were completed before the Second World War. The park was also intended to become a Philippine version of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with the planned building of the government offices.
The site also served as a venue of the Manila Carnival and various expositions prior to the outbreak of World War II.
In August 1954, President Ramon Magsaysay created the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission to organize and manage the celebrations for the centennial of José Rizal's birth. Its plans include building a grand monument of José Rizal and the Rizal Memorial Cultural Center that would contain a national theater, a national museum, and a national library at the Luneta. The site was declared a national park on December 19, 1955, by virtue of Proclamation No. 234 signed by President Magsaysay. The Luneta National Park spans an area of approximately 16.24 hectares (40.1 acres) covering the area surrounding the Rizal Monument. The Commission of Parks and Wildlife (now Biodiversity Management Bureau) managed the site upon its establishment as a protected area.
In 1957, President Carlos P. Garcia issued Proclamation No. 470 transferring the administration of the national park to the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission. In 1961, in commemoration of Rizal's birth centennial, the National Library was inaugurated at the park. Its management was then handed over to the National Parks Development Committee, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, created in 1963 by President Diosdado Macapagal.
In 1967, the Luneta National Park was renamed to Rizal Park with the signing of Proclamation No. 299 by President Ferdinand Marcos. Through donations by the Taiwanese and Japanese governments, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens were set up during Marcos' administration. The Rizal Park under NPDC executive director Teodoro Valencia was expanded. Valencia introduced the "Concert at the Park" event series during his management.
On June 12, 1998, the park hosted many festivities which capped the 1998 Philippine Centennial, the event commemorating a hundred years since the Declaration of Independence from Spain and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. The celebrations were led by then President Fidel V. Ramos.
Rizal Park was renovated by the National Parks Development Committee in 2011. The German-Filipino William Schaare, who built the old musical dancing fountain at the 40 m × 100 m (130 ft × 330 ft) pool in the 1960s, handled its restoration. Among the other things that were restored were the Flower Clock (now known as the World-Class Filipino Bloom), the Noli Me Tangere Garden and the Luzviminda Boardwalk, which were opened just in time for the 150th birthday celebration of Jose Rizal.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rizal Park was temporarily closed to the public in March 2020. The COVID-19 community quarantine measures allowed the NDPC to rehabilitate the park. Select sites within the park were later opened. The Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital was also built in the park's Burnham Green, as a temporary facility.
Rizal Park is managed, developed, and administered by the National Parks Development Committee.
The park is divided into three sections:
Northeastern Section: This 16-hectare (40-acre) section is designated as the National Museum Complex which includes the Agrifina Circle, and where the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Anthropology are located.
Central Section: Located south of Maria Orosa Street is the 22-hectare (54-acre) park proper that extends down up to Roxas Boulevard. This is where the Rizal Monument and several attractions such as the Open-Air Auditorium, Independence Flagpole, Central Musical and Dancing Fountain are located.
Southwestern Section: Includes the Burnham Green, a 10-hectare (25-acre) open field, the Quirino Grandstand and the Manila Ocean Park along Manila Bay.
|Northwestern side||Southeastern side|
National Museum of Anthropology
Agrifina Circle and
the Sentinel of Freedom
National Museum of Natural History
National Library of the Philippines
National Historical Commission of the Philippines
Museo Pambata, formerly the Manila Elks Club
Main article: Rizal Monument
The bronze-and-granite Rizal monument is among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country. It is almost protocol for visiting dignitaries to lay a wreath at the monument. Located on the monument is not merely the statue of Rizal, but also his remains.
On September 28, 1901, the United States Philippine Commission approved Act No. 243, which would erect a monument in Luneta to commemorate the memory of José Rizal, Filipino patriot, writer and poet. The committee formed by the act held an international design competition between 1905 and 1907 and invited sculptors from Europe and the United States to submit entries with an estimated cost of ₱100,000 using local materials.
The first-prize winner was Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy for his scaled plaster model titled "Al Martir de Bagumbayan" (To the Martyr of Bagumbayan), besting 40 other accepted entries. The contract though, was awarded to second-placer Swiss sculptor named Richard Kissling for his "Motto Stella" (Guiding Star).
After more than twelve years of its approval, the shrine was finally unveiled on December 30, 1913, during Rizal's 17th death anniversary. His poem Mi último adiós ("My Last Farewell") is inscribed on the memorial plaque. The site is continuously guarded by ceremonial soldiers of Philippine Marine Corps’ Marine Security and Escort Group
According to the inventory made by the National Parks Development Committee, there are 3,497 trees in Rizal Park belonging to 112 species as of 2015. 527 of the individual trees are narra.
In 2012, 30 high-definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed to make the area safer for local and foreign tourists. The National Parks Development Committee have stationed police and security officers in the key places in the park for added security.
Like Rizal Avenues, most Philippine towns and cities have a Rizal Park (or a Plaza Rizal), usually its central square. This is also where its Rizal monument is located. Seattle also has its own Rizal Park. Additionally, a statue and monument of Jose Rizal was erected in Luneta Park, located along Rizal Ave in the city of Markham, ON Canada in 2019.