A few days ago JG was trying to explain to me about the new condominium that was being built near The Rizal Park. At first I did not mind because for some weird reason it did not occur to me where exactly they were building it, until JG further explained that they were building it a few miles behind it. And that was when the irritation sank in. So the idea is that every time you look at the view of the Rizal Monument you will see an ugly looking building sticking out like a sore thumb behind it.
Below is the picture of the said park, now imagine the same view with a building behind it and tell me if it will be as nice?
I find this absolutely ridiculous because that would completely ruin the atmosphere of the whole park. For the non-Filipinos reading this post, Rizal Park or Luneta Park as it is also called is like our Eiffel Tower in Manila, it is probably not as iconic but it is ours. In fact a few more kilometers near the Rizal Monument is where our Kilometre Zero is, so it’s basically the official center of the city. Our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal was shot there by firing squad in 1896, an event that sparked the Philippine Revolution from Spain. After that monument was built some few years later, his remains were transferred there from a small park where he was previously interred.
The story was that Rizal really did not actually want a big monument for a grave site; he specifically requested that he be buried in a small lot, with a cross and his name on it. So now you can see that not only did we vehemently ignored a hero’s dying wish, we are now also going to defile his tombstone by ruining its view. If you ask me, we might as well just return the poor guy in his small lot in Paco Park.
And I will come clean, my personal gripe with this issue is that I have yet to stand up-close the park, or the monument. I don’t have fond memories near it as other kids do, I have yet to take a descent picture with me on the park. You must understand that I never really imagined that I would be able to get to visit the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben, I did not even think I was going to be able to see the Merlion of Singapore. I am not ashamed to say but growing up, money was so tight we never really found the time to go site-seeing not even for a park an hour of jeepney ride away, and by the time I was old enough to go around by myself I was already working, and by the time I had the time, I was married and moved to Libya for JG’s first posting. I admit, I took it being so close for granted that I set back my visit my whole life, and after being able to visit other countries and taking pictures of other iconic sites, the guilt of not being able to visit Rizal Park grew bigger and bigger in my gut.
But it gave me a goal; after our last visit back home, where priorities once again kept me from visiting the park, I realized that it would be much sweeter to visit the site, after seeing all those other places. I imagine it will be a quiet sunny afternoon with blue skies and white clouds rolling by; on a weekday, where there is not much people around but the usual vendors and tourists. I would take some good pictures, and then sit by a bench near it and revel in the thought that I have come home and after seeing all those other famous places, as beautiful as they are, nothing will be as wonderful as the one on my homeland…
But of course now that this monstrosity of a condominium will be built it is driving me crazy to think that this dream of mine will now be tainted.
The Philippines is not exactly a rich country, we don’t have much, and we know that, plus I am one to admit that it does not take much to make us happy. But I would like to think that because we know this, we value the little and few things that we do have. This is why I think that we are one of the happiest people in the world even amidst bad things happening to us, because we know how to appreciate what we have and the things we cannot lose. And I would like to think that includes valuing the few historical places and areas that we can look back into and remember who we are and how we came to be. If not all, at least this one. (So if there is a chance, I call upon those the company building it claims to have bought a unit, I urge you to think about it again, are you really okay with this?)
It is one of the things I love about Muscat, they are a very rich country and can easily build sky scrapers in their city to prove how progressive they are, but they choose to maintain their culture by not allowing such building to be built that may ruin the look and feel of their city.
Here is a view of Old Muscat and the harbor.
One of Rizal’s most famous quotes is “Ang hindi marunong tuminging sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” It is a bit difficult to literally translate into English but it basically teaches to honor and look back at your roots, because you wouldn’t be able to get where you want to go if you don’t acknowledge where you came from. You may say that sometimes things like this with the condominium happen for the price of progress, but is it really? What society progresses by valuing profit over the beauty of a historical site?
Here is another personal gripe with this issue. I may never get my chance to get at least a good picture with the site, and it is my fault that I let it. But the problem with this is one building is the start of many others, and I was hoping that I will one day be able to take my future children to the park and tell them about the man buried there, what this place is about, and what it means for them, and it breaks my heart that they will probably won’t get a descent view to see…
The views written on this post and this blog are mine alone and are not shared or represented by my husband or the Philippine Embassy in any way.