|The Rizal @150 Journey begins in Manila.|
Locals and tourists with a competitive streak and appreciation of history will definitely enjoy exploring the Philippine capital through the Lakbay Jose Rizal. For the clueless, Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 is the Heritage Trail Project led by the Department of Tourism that encourages the public to visit and rediscover the different sites and attractions relevant to Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal. The project was initiated to celebrate the 150th Birth Anniversary (1861-2011) of the country's most well-known hero.
I had a blast last yesterday as I revisited historical places around the Metro that were included in the 27 sites listed in the Rizal at 150 trail. My first stop, of course, was at the Department of Tourism Office in T.M. Kalaw Street, where I got my Rizal @ 150 Passport.
|Inside the Department of Tourism|
After reading the passport details and looking at the Rizal @150 Heritage Trail Map, I went to my next stop: The Rizal Park along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. There are 3 sites in the Heritage Trail that are located inside the oldest urban and historical park in Asia.
|The Rizal Monument has sentries guarding it 24/7.|
The first one is the Rizal Monument, designed by Richard Kissling, a Swiss sculptor. Called the Motto Stella (Guiding Star), his design won second place in an international competition in 1907.
|Two markers describing Rizal's Execution.|
Second is the Rizal Execution Site, situated at the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal. It was undergoing some repairs when I visited so I wasn't able to catch the Light and Sound show that depicts the last few moments of Dr. Jose Rizal's life. The exact spot where he fell after being shot by a firing squad is within that area and not at the Rizal Monument, as most people assume.
|Jose Rizal used to drink at this fountain!|
Third is the Rizal Fountain which is inside the Noli Me Tangere Garden, near the Rizal Monument. The Rizal Fountain was a gift from the people of Germany. Germany is just one of the many countries that the well-traveled hero visited in Europe and Asia. The stamp site, by the way, is also located at the garden.
|The Cuartel is now a University|
From Rizal Park, I took a long yet leisurely walk to the walled-city of Intramuros. I headed immediately to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila which was at the corner of Gen. Luna and Muralla Streets. It was once the Cuartel De España, the venue of Rizal's trial. (FYI, the PLM Guard Post, which is the stamp site, is a small security office under the stairs of the main building).
|Jose Rizal studied at Ateneo Municipal at age 11.|
Afterwards, I walked to Anda Street to look for the original building of Ateneo Municipal de Manila, where the young Rizal studied from 1872 to 1877. It was destroyed by far in 1932. A Department of Tourism WOW Clamshell (basically a humongous white tent) now stand in its place. This was where I got my passport stamped, too.
|The University is now a bank.|
Then I went to my last stop at Intramuros: The University of Santo Tomas. The old University of Sto. Tomas once stood at the corner of Andres Soriano and Solana Streets. It has been replaced by the Banco Filipino Building. Stamp site is at the guard post of the condominium's lobby (not at the bank's entrance).
So I got 6 sites out of the 9 sites in Manila covered in half a day. I still had time to visit Fort Santiago (which was nearby) and Paco Park. Unfortunately, there was a drizzle so I decided to skip it because I didn't bring an umbrella. Anyway, for those of you who would like to try this unusual exploration of the Metro, here are a few tips:
1. First, make sure that you have an umbrella, bottled water, and a good pair of walking shoes. Don't let the unpredictable weather, humidity, and uncomfortable shoes spoil your adventure.
2. Read a bit about Jose Rizal so you could appreciate more the sites that you'll be visiting. Rizal is a Renaissance man and a prolific writer. His works and the numerous things written about him are equally interesting to read.
3. Wander around and take lots of photos! Don't just go to the sites and have your passport stamped. For example, while I was at Intramuros, I visited the areas that I usually don't go to such as Puerto Real, the ruins of the Cuartel de Sta. Lucia, the schools along Muralla Street, and the Intramuros and Rizal Light and Sound Museum. I also walked on the Postigo, which provided me a great view of the Intramuros Golf Course.
4. And if you're the type of person who doesn't like getting lost, bring a map. Or you could check the Open Street Map of Manila before leaving. The Rizal Passport only indicates the streets and cities where the sites and attractions are located. In case you still need directions when you're at Rizal Park or Intramuros, don't be shy to ask help from the friendly Tourism Police.
This is just the beginning of my Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 adventures. My goal is to be one of the first 100 people to complete the trail. Anyway, is there anybody else who has plans of doing the Lakbay Jose Rizal? How about those who've started it, how was it like for you? Tell us about it!