Increase in visitors
FOR the first time in years, tourists, students and promenaders are considering the Nayong Pilipino in Pasay City a big deal.
And why shouldn’t they? For only 15 pesos and 5 pesos, adults and children, respectively, can gawk at replicas of the country’s wonders as well as cultural and historic structures and artifacts while leisurely strolling through the sprawling, tree-dotted theme park.
Or one can simply shoot the breeze under the cool shade of the trees and enjoy the peace and quiet in one of Metro Manila’s few remaining ecological havens.
The new fees are 30-percent lower than the old rates of 50 pesos for adults and 35 pesos for kids. (The fee for foreigners, however, still stands at one dollar.)
"The much lower entrance fee is a welcome relief. Imagine, you can even take five members of your family to the park without hurting your pocket," said Las Pińas resident Annie Candido, who was taking her 4-year-old son Carl Angelo on a tour.
The last time Candido, 35, her sailor-husband and their two children visited the park was two years ago.
Slashing the entrance fee was the first official act of Charito Planas when she assumed the post of executive director of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation late in March.
"Before I took over, I toured the park and saw for myself that it was deserted. So I thought of reducing the entrance fee to lure people in," said Planas, who also runs the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.
Her strategy paid off. The volume of visitors has grown by leaps and bounds—74 percent in April, 69 percent in May, 76 percent in June, and 121 percent in July, compared with the same period last year.
These days, it’s common to see mothers strolling with their grade-school children; uniformed students romping on the grassy knolls resembling Bohol’s Chocolate Hills; or Korean tourists posing for pictures before a replica of Mayon Volcano, pride of the Bicol region.
To add spice to the usual attractions, Planas has introduced cultural activities for each month, such as the reenactment of Lenten practices in April; the Santacruzan in May; and garden shows in June and July.
On Saturday, the park hosted a sports festival dubbed "Palarong Pinoy" and featured the country’s indigenous games, including sipa.
Students from 62 Metro Manila schools took part in the day-long event.
Surprisingly, schoolchildren, who are often bused to the Nayong Pilipino for an educational tour, do not make up the bulk of visitors. They come only second to adults, and foreigners, third.
In July, for instance, 24,850 of the 35,800 visitors were adults, 7,512 were children, and 3,438 were foreigners.
If nothing else, the figures show that adults still appreciate the sights, if not the tranquility, inside the government-owned park, which has not seen much improvement in the past years.
[ Quezon Memorial Circle Wiki ]