When in Manila, don’t miss a visit to Luneta

Rizal monument. Photo credit wikipedia

Three decades. Or more. That’s my estimate of how long it has been since I went to Manila’s most popular park, Rizal Park, a.k.a. Luneta.

Oh sure, I always pass by Roxas Boulevard and see Luneta from my car. Several times I’ve stayed in Manila Hotel and saw Luneta from our windows. But to really go there and walk its paths? Three decades.

You ask why? Well, I had that common hang-up that public parks, especially Luneta, were full of not-so-nice elements: litter, dirty toilets, beggars, holduppers, carnappers, etc, etc, etc.

I’m glad our Arnis Master, Cris Pasindo, decided to bring our group there. He said that all Arnis practitioners would benefit from a visit to Luneta. So at 7 o’clock in the morning two Sundays ago, we all went there: seven arnisadors, 15 Arnis kids, and their parents.

I tell you. I was surprised! What was supposed to be a two-hour outing became an almost whole day affair because we enjoyed it so much!

First look:

  • There was ample parking in the park’s periphery.
  • Joggers, runners, aerobic groups, tai chi practitioners, martial artists, and other sporty people who were there gave a vibe of health and fitness
  • The park was clean. Yes! Of course, there were plastic wrappers lying here and there but there were no heaps of rotting garbage as I expected.  I was so surprised that I asked the woman sweeping the grounds, “Has it always been this clean in Luneta or only after President Erap became mayor?” She looked genuinely surprised by my question and quickly replied “Dati pa po.” (It has always been clean). Oh, okay. Maybe I asked the wrong person but…okay! Luneta is clean!
  • If you need to go, the toilets are clean. At least the one I went to was.  (You just have to pay Php 5 (USD 0.10) to enter)
  • Security guards are aplenty. You see them all over.
  • There were no homeless people sleeping in the park. I saw some in Baywalk, Roxas Boulevard, but in Luneta, none.
  • At 7 AM, the fountain at the center of the park was dancing full blast.  Fantastic.
  • And then the most spectacular of all, a 30-foot brass statue of Lapulapu (see below).

So what did we do there?

1. We practiced Arnis, basking in the morning sunlight and fresh air ( fresh as fresh could be in the middle of a busy city). Much better than always inhaling mall airconditioning.🙂

Look and see the clean greens.
Look and see how pleasant the grounds are.

2. We had bonding time.

Arnis in Luneta

3. Master Cris gave a short history lesson about Lapulapu and then we all had a pictorial in front of his monument.

Lapulapu, the 16th century chieftain who is known as the first Filipino to have resisted foreign invasion.
Lapulapu, the 16th century chieftain who is known as the first Filipino to have resisted foreign invasion.
His kampilan is down and inside its scabbard but Lapulapu stands alert, symbolizing that the Filipino is a man of peace but ready to fight for his land and honor.
His kampilan is down and inside its scabbard but Lapulapu stands alert, symbolizing that the Filipino is a man of peace but ready to fight for his land and honor.

4. We remembered our national hero, Jose Rizal.

Rizal Monument

4. We observed different Arnis classes. There are at least five around Luneta.

That's Peachy Sagun, formidable kalis Ilustrisimo practitioner teaching a student itak moves. (Note: i think she's the most fashionable teacher  I saw-- long flowing hair, cap, big designer shades, jeans and bag! Unique!
That’s Peachie Baron, a formidable kalis Ilustrisimo practitioner teaching a student itak moves. (I think she’s the most fashionable Arnis teacher I ever saw — long flowing hair, cap, big designer shades, jeans and bag! Unique!)

5. We met Arnis grandmasters, humble in look and demeanor but oh, treasures of Arnis skills and knowledge

Von Altas and Master Cris with Grandmaster Martin Raganas, Jr., Grandmaster Sioux, and Guro Eddie Lladoc
From left: Lakan Von Altas, Master Cris, Grandmaster Martin Raganas, Jr., Grandmaster Sioux, and Guro Eddie Lladoc

6. The children did an impromptu exhibition.

7-year old Michael showing his moves to the grandmasters
7-year old Michael showing his moves to the Grandmasters. “Very good!”

The grandmasters were warm, articulate, and full of wisdom that we wanted to prolong the privilege of being with them. So at around 12:30 PM we all went to Mang Inasal and over hot tamarind soup, grilled chicken, and lots of rice, we were treated to stories about Arnis. Very, very interesting! We felt like insiders in the intriguing world of Arnis during the 70’s.

Since most of us still had to go to Sunday worship, at 3:30 PM we had to part ways. It was a great day. We were very grateful.

So my friends, when in Manila, stop by Luneta. You just might have a pleasant, educational, memorable time as we had.

Pugay!

**************

Related post:

Chicken, rice, coffee, and Grandmasters

From around the web:

6 thoughts on “When in Manila, don’t miss a visit to Luneta

  1. thedeadlydance August 19, 2013 / 3:25 PM

    The only FREE Arnis lesson in Luneta I know is the Philippine Sports Commission’s program, Laro’t Saya (also called Learn and Play). They hold it at the back of the Luneta Carabao every SUNDAY, 6-8 AM, handled by the Living Legend of Arnis, Grandmaster Vic Sanchez. Anyone can join anytime.
    Most of the other Arnis groups in Luneta charge a fee. Considering that the lessons are given by recognized Arnis Grandmasters like Henry Espera, Rodel Dagooc, Tony Diego, Martin Raganas, Jr., most students feel that they really get more than their money’s worth. Try it sometime.🙂
    Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    • theweekendbackpacker August 23, 2013 / 12:41 PM

      I will🙂 As soon as I find my arnis🙂 I took Arnis in PE and it sure was fun🙂 How much does the other group charge?🙂

      • thedeadlydance August 24, 2013 / 10:02 PM

        I’m not sure how much. I’ll try to find out then I’ll let you know. So you tried arnis already. Great! It’s time to do it again…🙂

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s