Rizal Park

This article is about the park located in Manila. For the park located in Seattle with the same name, see Rizal Park (Seattle).
Rizal Park
Luneta National Park
IUCN category II (national park)

The Rizal Monument in Rizal Park
Map showing the location of Rizal Park
Location Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Manila, Philippines
Coordinates 14°34′57″N 120°58′42″E / 14.58250°N 120.97833°E / 14.58250; 120.97833Coordinates: 14°34′57″N 120°58′42″E / 14.58250°N 120.97833°E / 14.58250; 120.97833
Area 58 hectares (140 acres)
Established 1820
Governing body National Parks Development Committee
Website Official Website

Rizal Park (Filipino: Liwasang Rizal), also known as Luneta National Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Located along Roxas Boulevard, Manila, adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros, it is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. It has been a favorite leisure spot, and is frequented on Sundays and national holidays. Rizal Park is one of the major tourist attractions of Manila.

Situated by the Manila Bay, it is an important site in Philippine history. The execution of national hero José Rizal on December 30, 1896 fanned the flames of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. The area was officially renamed Rizal Park in his honor, and the monument enshrining his remains serves as the park's symbolic focal point. The Declaration of Philippine Independence from the United States was held here on July 4, 1946 as were later political rallies including those of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in 1986 that culminated in the EDSA Revolution.


Luneta is situated at the northern terminus of Roxas Boulevard. To the east of the boulevard, the park is bounded by Taft Avenue, Padre Burgos Avenue and Kalaw Avenue. To the west is the reclaimed area of the park bounded by Katigbak Drive, South Drive, and the shore of Manila Bay.


Spanish Colonial Period

The Paseo de Luneta in 1899
Historical marker on the former site of San Juan de Bagumbayan Church and Convent

Rizal Park's history began in 1820 when the Paseo de Luneta was completed just south of the walls of Manila on a marshy patch of land next to the beach during the Spanish rule. Prior to the park, the marshy land was the location of a small town called Nuevo Barrio (New Town or Bagumbayan in Tagalog language) that dates back to 1601. The town and its churches, being close to the walled city, were strategically used as cover by the British during their attack. The Spanish authorities anticipated the danger posed by the settlements that immediately surrounded Intramuros in terms of external attacks, yet Church officials advocated for these villages to remain. Because of the part they played during the British Invasion, they were cleared after the short rule of the British from 1762 to 1764.[1] The church of Bagumbayan originally enshrined the Black Nazarene. Because of the order to destroy the village and its church, the image was transferred first to San Nicolas de Tolentino then to Quiapo Church. This has since been commemorated by the Traslación of the relic every January 9, which is more commonly known as the Feast of the Black Nazarene. This is why the procession always start at Rizal Park.[2] After the clearing of the Bagumbayan settlement, the area later became known as Bagumbayan Field where the Cuartel la Luneta (Luneta Barracks), a Spanish Military Hospital (which was destroyed by one of the earthquakes of Manila), and a moat-surrounded outwork of the walled city of Manila, known as the Luneta (lunette) because of its crescent shape.[3][4]

West of Bagumbayan Field was the Paseo de la Luneta (Plaza of the Lunette) named after the fortification, not because of the shape of the plaza which was a long 100-by-300-metre (330 ft × 980 ft) rectangle ended by two semicircles. It was also named Paseo de Alfonso XII (Plaza of Alfonso XII), after Alfonso XII, King of Spain during his reign from 1874 to 1885.[5] Paseo de la Luneta was the center of social activity for the people of Manila in the early evening hours. This plaza was arranged with paths and lawns and surrounded by a wide driveway called "La Calzada" (The Road) where carriages circulate.[3][4]

Execution of Gómez, Burgos and Zamora

During the Spanish period from 1823 to 1897 most especially in the latter part, the place became notorious for public executions. A total of 158 political enemies of Spain were executed in the park.[4] On February 17, 1872, three Filipino priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza, were executed by garrote, accused of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.[6]

American Colonial Period

Rizal Monument

Main article: Rizal Monument
The execution of Jose Rizal on December 30, 1896

The bronze-and-granite Rizal monument is among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country. It is almost protocol for visiting dignitaries to lay a wreath at the monument. Located on the monument is not merely the statue of the national hero, but also his remains.[7]

On September 28, 1901, the United States Philippine Commission approved Act No. 243, which would erect a monument in Luneta to commemorate the memory of José Rizal, Philippine patriot, writer and poet.[8] The committee formed by the act held an international design competition between 1905 and 1907 and invited sculptors from Europe and the United States to submit entries with an estimated cost of ₱100,000 using local materials.[9]

The first-prize winner was Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy for his scaled plaster model titled “Al Martir de Bagumbayan” (To the Martyr of Bagumbayan) besting 40 other accepted entries. The contract though, was awarded to second-placer Swiss sculptor named Richard Kissling for his “Motto Stella” (Guiding Star).

After more than twelve years of its approval, the shrine was finally unveiled on December 30, 1913 during Rizal’s 17th death anniversary. His poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" ("My Last Farewell") is inscribed on the memorial plaque. The site is continuously guarded by ceremonial soldiers of Philippine Marine Corps’ Marine Security and Escort Group[10]

National Government Center

In 1902,[11] William Taft commissioned Daniel Burnham, architect and city planner, to do the city plan of Manila. Government buildings will have Neo-classical edifices with Greco-Roman columns. Burnham chose Luneta as the location of the new government center. A large Capitol building, which was envisioned to be the Philippine version of the Washington Capitol, was to become its core. It was to be surrounded by other government buildings, but only two of those buildings were built around Agrifina Circle, facing each other. They are the Department of Agriculture (now the Museum of the Filipino People)and the Department of Finance (now the Department of Tourism and soon to be the Museum of Natural History). These two buildings were completed before the Second World War.[12]

Proclamation of independence at Rizal Park

Luneta National Park

In 1955, President Ramon Magsaysay signed Proclamation No. 234 declaring Luneta a national park.[13] The Luneta National Park spans an area of approximately 16.24 hectares covering the area surrounding the Rizal Monument. The Commission of Parks and Wildlife (now Biodiversity Management Bureau) managed the site upon its establishment as a protected area. The national park is now administered by the National Parks Development Committee under the Department of Tourism.[14]

Jose Rizal Cultural Center

In August 1954, President Ramon Magsaysay created the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission (JRNCC, to organize and manage the celebrations for the centennial of Jose Rizal’s birth. It consists of a national theater, a national museum and, a national library. However the plan did not push through.

Philippine Centennial

On June 12, 1998, the park hosted many festivities which capped the 1998 Philippine Centennial, the event commemorating a hundred years since the Declaration of Independence from Spain and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. The celebrations were led by then President Fidel V. Ramos.[15]

2011 renovations

Rizal Park underwent renovations by the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) aimed at restoring elements of the park. The plans included the rehabilitation of the old musical dancing fountain located on the 40 m × 100 m (130 ft × 330 ft) pool, which is the geographical center of the park. The fountain, which is set for inauguration on December 16, 2011, is handled by German-Filipino William Schaare, the same person who built the original fountain in the 1960s. Restoration also included the Flower Clock which was set for inauguration on the 113th Philippine Independence day; the Noli Me Tangere Garden and the Luzviminda Boardwalk, for the 150th birthday celebration of Jose Rizal.[16]

Notable events in the park

Aerial shot of the Rizal Park during Pope Francis' concluding mass

Park layout

Panorama of the park near Roxas Boulevard

The park is divided into three sections beginning with the 16-hectare (40-acre) Teodora F. Valencia Circle adjoining Taft Avenue, where the Department of Tourism and the National Museum of the Filipino People (formerly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Finance respectively) are located, is the Northeastern section; followed by the 22-hectare (54-acre) park proper that extends down to Roxas Boulevard is the Central Section; and terminating at Southwestern section which includes Burnham Green, a 10-hectare (25-acre) open field, the Quirino Grandstand and the Manila Ocean Park along Manila Bay.

Location of buildings in and around Rizal Park
Northeastern side
Northwestern side Southeastern side

Museum of the Filipino People

Agrifina Circle and
the Sentinel of Freedom

Department of Tourism Building

Japanese Garden

Rizal Monument

National Library of the Philippines


National Historical Commission of the Philippines

Manila Hotel

Quirino Grandstand

Museo Pambata, formerly the Manila Elks Club
Southwestern side


The park is home to various Kali/Eskrima/Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) groups. Every morning, especially on Sundays, Eskrimadors, or Eskrima practitioners can be seen at the Luneta. Even up to the present, stickfighting duels are still very common, albeit in a friendly atmosphere. Various physical fitness groups doing aerobics at the park are also present on weekends.

Like-minded individuals from all walks of life who have a knack or penchant for quizzes and trivia (any trivial or academic questions under the sun) also gravitates for graveyard Trivia Meetups at the Luneta Park on weekends, especially on Saturday from dusk till dawn along the promenade of Japanese Garden and Chess Plaza. Kite flying is also seen in the park area.


Inside the Chinese Garden.
The Orchidarium.

Event venues

The Open Air Auditorium.
  • Parade grounds and the Burnham Green, Parade grounds is a popular venue for fun run, races, motorcades and parades. The Burnham Green, named after American architect Daniel Burnham is a large open space in front of the Quirino grandstand, Designed to accommodate large crowd gatherings at the park, It also serves as picnic grounds and venue for different sports activities. The Narra tree planted by Pope Paul VI and the bronze statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz that was given by Pope John Paul II can be found in this area.

Educational establishments

Artworks and monuments

Relief map of the Philippines
Flower Clock.
La Madre Filipina statue.
The park during the 119th Rizal Day commemoration
  • Dancing Rings, A replica of Joe Datuin's Dancing Rings, The original sculpture is the Grand Prize winner of the 2008 International Olympic Committee Sports and Arts Contest in Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • The New Filipino/Ang Bagong Pinoy, A sculpture by Joe Dautin, It features intertwined rings resemble a human figure that represents a new Filipino.
  • Ang Pagbabago (The Change) Mosaic Murals, It represents the Filipino ideals of peace, love, unity and prosperity. It serves as a call to national renewal and change.
  • Soul waves, It represents sea waves as a tribute to Filipino who died during the World War II, It is placed in the park by Korea, as a sign of mutual respect.

Other fixtures

Rizal Park Fountain.
Kilometre Zero marker in front of the Memorial Clock on the other side of Roxas Boulevard facing on Rizal Monument.


In 2012, 30 high-definition closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed to make the area safer for local and foreign tourists.[23] The National Parks Development Committee have stationed police and security officers in the key places in the park for added security.[16]

Rizal Park
Life-size statues at Rizal's execution site 
The entrance arch to the Chinese garden 
The Orchidarium Manila 
Rizal Monument and surrounding skyscraper 
A solar lamp at the park for energy conservation 
The northeastern end of the central pool 

See also


  1. Joaquin, Nick (1990). Manila My Manila. Manila: The City of Manila.
  2. "Trivia: 11 things you didn't know about the Black Nazarene". InterAksyon.com. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  3. 1 2 (1911-12). "The Century Magazine", p.237-249. The Century Co., NY, 1912.
  4. 1 2 3 "History - Spanish Period". Rizal Park. Retrieved on 2011-10-07.
  5. "Manila and suburbs, 1898". University of Texas in Austin Library. Retrieved on 2011-10-07.
  6. Jernegan, Prescott Ford (1995). "A Short History of the Philippines", p.252. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
  7. Vicente, Rafael L. (2005). "The Promise of the Foreign Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines", p. 36. Duke University Press.
  8. Division of Insular Affairs, War Department (1901). "Public Laws and Resolutions Passed by the United States Philippine Commission", p.689. Washington: Government Printing Office.
  9. (1905-06). "Proposed Monuments and Monuments News", p.40. Granite, Marble and Bronze Magazine Vol. 15.
  10. http://www.visitmyphilippines.com/index.php?title=CityofManila&func=all&pid=2557
  11. Torres, Cristina Evangelista (2014). “The Americanization of Manila, 1898 – 1921”, p.169. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.
  12. "Proclamation No. 234, s.1955". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  13. "National Parks Development Committee". National Parks Development Committee. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  14. Alcazaren, Paolo (2010-07-10). "Grandstands and great public places". Philstar. Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
  15. 1 2 3 Mejia-Acosta, Iris (2011-05-25). "Luneta Celebrates Rizal's 150th Birthday with a Fresh Look". Pinay Ads.
  16. Hegina, Aries Joseph (18 January 2015). "MMDA: 6M Filipinos attended Pope Francis' Luneta Mass, papal route". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  17. "Events". Rizal Park - NPDC. Retrieved on 2013-03-21.
  18. "The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal". Rizal Park - NPDC. Retrieved on 2011-10-08.
  19. The Rizal Park 2012 brochure. Department of Tourism.
  20. Maranga, Mark Anthony (2010). "Kilometer Zero: Distance Reference of Manila". Philippines Travel Guide. Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
  21. "CCTV cameras seen to make Manila's Luneta Park safer". Yahoo! Philippines. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  22. Otakultura.com (2011). "Malaya Map Revealed!". Retrieved on 2011-09-01.
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