05/11/14

Monuments to Motherhood

As this particular entry is being released on a Mother’s Day, allow the Urban Roamer to greet all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day! I suppose words cannot express our gratitude for everything they have done for us that sometimes we tend to take for granted. May this day be an opportunity for us to show that gratitude and honor their sacrifices for us.

But how does one honor a mother whose sacrifices for us were greater than we could ever imagine? Such an homage can be done in any shape or form, no matter how simple of a gesture it may be. Or it could be something like what was done almost a hundred years ago, when it was decided that motherhood, Filipino motherhood especially, will be honored in what was to be known as the most beautiful bridge in Manila. Continue reading

05/3/14

Thank you DMCI!

This Heritage Month, let us all not forget to thank the benevolent property developer DMCI for their pricely contributions to the landscape of Rizal Park.

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04/24/14

Closure To A Crisis

Almost four years have passed since the tragic events of August 23, 2010 at Quirino Grandstand. It was a hostage situation gone horribly wrong as it resulted in the death not only of the perpetrator/suspect, but also of 8 tourists who came from Hong Kong.

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Urban Roamer file photo, 2010

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Urban Roamer file photo, 2010

It was a case of crisis mismanagement on the part of various parties, from the police to the local executives then of Manila, (especially the then “yellow” mayor of the city) as well as the concerned officials on the national level. It marked a new low in Philippine-Hong Kong relations as it resulted in getting the Philippines placed under the Hong Kong travel blacklist as well as the suspension of the visa-free entry privileges of Philippine officials and diplomats.

Hong Kong long stressed that the key in resolving this issue is a formal apology from the Philippine government for the handling of the situation. It was something the national government insisted it would not do, which was a factor why PH-HK relations went sour for almost four years.

But then some changes happened during the time, most notably in 2013 when former president Joseph Estrada defeated the then-incumbent “yellow” mayor in a tough electoral contest. With Estrada now as Manila mayor, he wasted no time in trying to rebuild relations with Hong Kong as he made an apology on behalf of the city for what happened.

At the same time, some talks have been going on behind the scenes as well as national government officials headed by secretary to the cabinet Rene Almendras as well as the Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.

The efforts finally paid off when it was announced on April 23, 2014 that Hong Kong and the Philippines finally agreed to resolve the long-standing issue as the victims’ families accepted the “profound regret and sympathy” expressed by the Philippine government as well as an undisclosed sum in compensation.

With the issue finally resolved in a positive and peaceful manner, we look forward that this would usher in a renewed strengthening of ties between Hong Kong and Manila, notwithstanding of course the present troubles we still have with China.

with reports from the South China Morning Post

01/21/12

Rizal Park, Part 7: celebrations and grandstandings at the Quirino Grandstand

Having been elevated into prominence as Manila’s (as well as the country’s) definitive landmark by the American colonial era, it comes as no surprise that Rizal Park a favored spot for parades, athletic events, and special events like the famed Manila Carnival. These events used to be held at what was known as Wallace Field, located east of the Rizal Monument, approximately where the Binhi sculpture & the Heidelberg Fountain are now located.

Fast-forward to the year 1946. A year had passed since Manila suffered from utmost destruction brought about the by the war, more particularly during the Battle for Manila. As a a nation was trying to get its feet up from war, it was also gearing for eventual independence from the United States as was agreed upon almost 11 years past as part of the Tydings-McDuffie Law. There was one problem: the original intended venue for the ceremony was the Legislative Building, and it was still being reconstructed at the time, not to mention it being too small to hold an anticipated large crowd who would like to witness this historic event.

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the carabao and tamaraw monuments mark the original spot of the Independence Grandstand, not the Grandstand that we see today contrary to what some believe. otherwise it would have taken a really long rope to raise the Philippine flag from the grandstand. refer to the video below

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01/13/12

Rizal Park, Part 6: of New Luneta and Kilometer 0

Not many people would realize it, but Rizal Park is one of Manila’s best examples of how much the city has changed in the span of just over a century.

Originally, and this was up to the end of the Spanish colonial era, Manila’s bayshore was only up to what is now the gutter of the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard. So Luneta back then was really near the shore of Manila Bay, not to mention there was no Roxas Boulevard yet.

Manila’s expansion would begin during the American colonial period as reclamation work in the 1900’s extended farther Manila’s land area as part of Burnham’s Manila plan, thus expanding the significance of Luneta. I guess it was appropriate that they named this expanded part of the park as “New Luneta.”

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Most of New Luneta is actually an open green space which is/was known as Burnham Field, after the aforementioned architect, its centerpiece being a tree planted by Pope Paul VI when he visited Manila in 1970 (Pope Paul VI being the first Catholic pope to visit the country) and a monument dedicated to the country’s first Catholic saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz.

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One can find some visual art on display, particularly the murals and some interesting sculpture, counting as well the twin figures of the country’s famous horned beasts: the kalabaw and the tamaraw.

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the Centennial clock which, sadly isn't functioning...tsk, tsk

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But one prominent landmark, though overlooked at times, in this part of Rizal Park would be this little marker which bears the signage “KM 0.” Located just right infront of Rizal Park. this structure marks the beginning point of the measurement of travel distances to the different parts of Metro Manila and Luzon Island as a whole.

Km 0 (taken from the Internet)

 It’s interesting to note that original Kilometer 0 was located in Intramuros, right in front of the Manila Cathedral till it was relocated to its present site sometime in the 20th century. A symbolic shift if you can call that which reflected the changing sociopolitical landscape that affected the country as a whole, as it tried to veer away from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the country.

Up next: final part of the Rizal Park series, as we talk about the evolution of what we now know as the Quirino Grandstand

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