More popularly known as Luneta, the park is immortalized in the famous Rico J. Puno song, “The Way We Were (Alaala Sa Luneta)”:
“Namamasyal pa sa Luneta, kahit walang pera…”
Indeed, this historical place in the middle of Manila is a haven not only for lovers, but also for families who relax and stroll in the park for free, mostly during weekends. Overlooking the scenic Manila Bay, the 60-hectare Rizal Park has a history that goes way back in the early 1800s. During the Spanish Colonial Era, Luneta was then called Bagumbayan. This is where some of the country’s most significant historical events happened, the most notable being the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, on December 30, 1896. The Rizal Monument stands here, guarded 24-7 by ceremonial soldiers. The monument was made not by a Filipino artist, but a Swiss sculptor named Richard Kissling.
The monument also serves as the starting point, or kilometer zero, when measuring the distances of places from Manila.
The Rizal Park has become one of the major tourist spots in Manila. Aside from the Rizal Monument, the park has a small man-made lake with a replica of the Philippine map in the middle of the water. Located within the park are the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the National Library, the National Museum, the Planetarium, the main office of the Department of Tourism, the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavillion and the Quirino Grandstand. The Quirino Grandstand is a popular venue for all sorts of events. It is often used for official government ceremonies, as well as for prayer rallies and sports ceremonies.
The popularity of Rizal Park as a historical and recreational site has made it an ideal location for business. Commercial establishments such as restaurants and hotels were developed in the area, the most notable being the Manila Hotel, one of the oldest and most historical hotels in the country.