Quezon City

The soul of Quezon City (part 3): the Quezon Memorial Circle

From its original purpose as the site of what supposed to be our National Capitol of a new capital city, the elliptical-shaped land was eventually converted to a park and a memorial to the capital city’s founder and Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon.

Even so, the Quezon Memorial Circle that we have today is a far cry from what it was originally intended: it would be more of a grand memorial (with an auditorium, library, and a bit larger museum) dedicated to Quezon rather than the green landscape we now see.

plan for the original Quezon Memorial Circle (taken from the Facebook page of writer/architect Paulo Alcazaren)

Its has never been an easy one. Over the years, as traffic and rapid urbanization radically changed the atmosphere of the metropolis that Quezon City is a part of, the park became somewhat isolated and overlooked. For a long time, people who wanted to visit the park would have to face the menace of speeding vehicles plying along Elliptical Road. Its seedy reputation being a spot for flesh trade has been a point of controversy as well.

Yet in the midst of all this, it is amazing to see Quezon Memorial Circle holding its own, long enough to see that in recent years, it is at least getting some renewed attention it so long deserves. The Quezon City government is bent on making the Quezon Memorial Circle the “central park” of Quezon City.

For one thing, a first-time visitor to the Quezon Memorial Circle may find it remarkable that there are other notable landmarks in the Circle apart from the iconic Quezon Memorial Shrine. Like this “World Peace Bell” as it’s called which was installed in 1994.

Surrounding the bell are the flagposts bearing flags of different countries in the world. And if you look at the base of the flagpole, you may be surprised to find some useful statistics of the country in question.

It also boasts of some social halls that are used at times for those ballroom dancing sessions, gruelling chess games, and just simple siesta, as well as a small open-air auditorium that is used often as the venue for worship services of a Catholic charismatic ministry.

As well as some latest additions, like this new and somewhat larger open air auditorium (with its colorful flooring) and a fountain.

The park is a favorite place for biking enthusiasts and novices, hence the business of bike rentals in the park.

And speaking of businesses, there are a number of business stalls around the park, selling plants, food items, toys, and native stuff to name a few.

Not to mention the presence of big restaurants in the park, some of them established landmarks of their own in this part of the city.

It seems one facet of the city government’s plan for the park is to make it more “child-friendly”, hoping to erase the stigma associated with the park for quite a while. Nothing could stress that point more than building a new playground complex in the park itself, in addition to the vast green open space available for playtime and other fun activities.

And if that’s not enough, there another new attraction in the circle: an amusement park. With a roller coaster, merry-go-round, haunted pyramid, to name a few. And has an admission fee too. In my opinion, I thought placing an amusement park is too much and somewhat inappropriate for a place that’s supposed to promote nature and refuge from the urban chaos, considering the own brand of “chaos” amusement parks bring. But hey, I’m not really an expert in park management, and I’m sure the QC government has its reasons in allowing an amusement park there. (I assume they do have one at least)

The face of the Quezon Memorial Circle has evolved in different ways over the past 60 years since it was first conceived. Quezon City itself was to grow to what it is today from that elliptical field of one’s vision. Like a number of other places in our country, it has told stories of vision and hope of things that did not turn out as planned, as it transformed into some place different, for better or for worse. The story of Quezon Memorial Circle is somewhat akin to the story of Quezon City itself: a vision of a place that ended up differently as others tried to put their own mark on the place, giving an adverse effect at times. Still it continues to thrive as it hopes for a better and clearer future ahead.

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