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Rizal Park (formerly "Luneta Park") in the heart of Manila

Rizal Park (formerly "Luneta Park) in the heart of Manila

Rizal Park can be one of the underrated places to check out in Manila, and despite the "image" most locals have of the attraction, Rizal Park stands as one of the "iconic" places that define Manila.

National Flag and Ancestral-looking house in Rizal Park

I have to admit that I was one of those who have a negative impression of Rizal Park. In my mind, it's nothing more than just an overpopulated "park wannabe", and it was not even my intention to visit. It just happened that the National Planetarium (read more) is situated right at the heart of this park, so 'I didn't have a choice'.

...nothing more than just an overpopulated "park wannabe"

Rizal Park's simple yet captivating beauty

When I finally reached the park, I paused for a moment. I felt like there was a lump in my throat -- realizing that it was my pride. I swallowed it, breathed in, and toured around. Luckily, I came a little earlier than our agreed meet-up time. I got the opportunity to appreciate what I'd been missing out on.

Rizal Park photography - Manila, Philippines

I came there on a Saturday morning, and the open spaces in the park hardly made it seem like "crowded". In fact, I found it liberating and comforting to walk around the park. It felt like a hidden portal/sanctuary inside the city, and I was so glad that I shattered the wrong impression I had in my mind.

Flock of birds dancing in the Rizal Park, Philippines

Adding more to the excitement was when I saw a flock of birds gracefully dancing in the sky. It was a wonderful sight to behold, and never in my life did I see as much birds (up close and personal). My heart leaped in awe.

Bird houses in Rizal Park, Manila

I wanted to walk closer towards the birds, but I saw bird poop stains nearby. I realized that they might shower some of that stuff if I walk closer. Well, I know that there’s a superstition saying that it brings good luck to have bird poop fall on you, but no thanks, I’d rather admire them at a distance.

Adorable birds in Rizal Park, Luneta

Also, it was a good thing that my camera had a great zoom. I just took a quick photo and hurried back into the "safe zone".

Rizal Park in the morning - Open Auditorium

Interestingly, Rizal Park has an open auditorium for events. Since there was none during my visit, they were just playing songs which added more "life" to my walk. Though my tour was quick, I really fell in love with how simple yet elegantly beautiful the park was. In fact, it was so great that I promised myself to go back here once again.

Rizal Park Open Auditorium

Shortly, I proceeded going to National Planetarium where I met my friends up to watch a show as well as to check out the gallery. You may read more about it here - National Planetarium's Galactic Adventure in Rizal Park.

Rizal Park Quick Guide

Things to see/do: Walk around and appreciate the park's captivating simplicity, go bird watching, visit the National Planetarium, visit National Museum

Budget needed: None, but you may get hungry as you walk around. Fret not, there are food stalls scattered in the park, and even restaurants nearby.

Is it wander-worthy? Yes! Rizal Park may seem easy to ignore, especially with the notions we had in our heads, but once you go there, you'll realize why it still is one of the best places to visit in Manila.

How to get there: You may take the LRT going to United Nations (UN) Station, and walk from there. For those riding the Jeepney, you can ask to be dropped in Rizal Park itself.

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