Saturday, May 17, 2014

Manila: Starting Point at Kilometer Zero

10 Day 10K Challenge: City of Manila, METRO MANILA
Date: MAY 17, 2014

Manila – the nation’s capital and the gateway to the Philippines. Rich in culture and history, Manila prides itself as one of the premier destinations in the country. This city is also a prime example of how the past connects with the future, and how the East meets the West. This was the first destination on my route, and this is where the story of my epic road trip began.


Lapu-Lapu's statue
Saturday, May 17, 2014. 11:40 in the morning. This was the exact date and time when I left Rizal. I was standing at the gates of the village where I live, waiting for a bus to arrive. I spotted a G-Liner bus bound for Quiapo and rode the bus. I told the conductor to drop me off at Ortigas and paid my fare which was P27.50. It was hot and traffic, and it took me an hour to reach Ortigas. I reached Ortigas at 12:50 PM, and what I did next was to go directly to the MRT Ortigas Station and rode the train bound for Taft Avenue. From Taft Avenue Station, I transferred to EDSA Station, and rode another train bound for Monumento and get off at the UN Avenue Station.

I had to walk for a few meters before I could reach the gates of Luneta Park. And here I was - standing before Manila’s (and even the Philippines’) most famous park. The first thing that I saw was the relief map of the Philippines. And then, looking into the left, I saw the Department of Tourism’s Building being renovated.

Central Lagoon Dancing Fountain
Walking through the park, the next thing I saw was the colossal statue of Lapu-Lapu. It stands mightily on its pedestal, serving as the park’s guardian day and night. It has been a while since the last time I went to this park. It was back in 2010 when my college classmates and I had to do a video shoot for a school competition. A lot of things have changed since then. From being somewhat neglected, I can see that Luneta Park is now making a comeback.

One of the attractions that can be found inside the park is the renovated Central Lagoon Dancing Fountain. During my visit, the fountains were turned off. I guess they were turning it on at night, along with its upgraded neon lights and music. Too bad I stayed only for an hour, not being able to witness the dancing fountain show at night.

There were other landmarks that I saw when I toured the park. There was the Japanese Garden, the statue of La Madre Filipina (which, according to my research, was formerly an ornamental sculpture for Jones Bridge that survived the war and was later transferred to Luneta Park), Rizal’s execution site marker and the Independence Flag Pole (which stood at 32 meters).

Independence Flag Pole
As I keep on walking, I noticed Korean tourists visiting the Rizal Monument. Considered to be the most iconic landmark in the park, this monument is the site where the tomb of Jose Rizal is located. Richard Kissling designed it, and the construction was completed in 1913. The monument is adorned with lots of statues, with Rizal’s statue facing the Kilometer Zero marker, and on top of it were three golden stars. Guards secure the area 24/7, to ward off those who wanted to vandalize the monument.

Rizal Monument
Across the park lies Roxas Boulevard and I had to cross the road to reach Quirino Grandstand. The Carabao Statue and the Masonic Memorial Clock can be found in this side of the park. The land around the grandstand was barren that time, and the sun’s scorching rays are creeping through my skin, so I decided to rest under the shady tree where San Lorenzo Ruiz’s statue is located. I took a few photos, and after a few minutes, I decided to leave.

San Lorenzo Ruiz Statue
Before entirely leaving Manila, I glanced upon the Kilometer Zero marker, and stood silent for a moment, meditating and thinking about my journey. Now, my mind is completely set, and it’s time for me to venture the unknown!

I took a final look at the Rizal Monument, and as I walk past the iconic landmark, I was approached by two students from PUP who asked me if I can be interviewed. They asked me some questions related to the park, and then thanked me after the interview. They asked me what am I doing in Luneta Park, and I told them that I was on a journey around North Luzon. They showed their support and wished me the best of luck.

I went back to the United Nations Station and rode a train bound for Muñoz. From there, I rode a jeep going to SM North and bought mineral water inside the supermarket. I went outside, into the Baliuag Transit terminal below the Sky Garden. Standing there for a few minutes, an air-conditioned Golden Bee bus bound for Malolos came. I rode the bus at 3:53 PM, heading to the first province on my list, which is also the place where I was born – Bulacan.

Going back to UN Avenue Station
Expenses - Metro Manila (as of May 17, 2014):

Additional Photos:








This post is part of my 10 Day 10K Challenge that took place between May 17-26, 2014. Read the first entry here. Proceed to the next destination here.

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