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Remaking Luneta
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Lynda B. Valencia
Date: 2003-01-07
Tourism Sec. Richard Gordon wants to restore the old name of Luneta to “Bagumbayan” (new town or nation in Pilipino), purportedly to “cast away the trauma of being colonized by Spain.”

Will a new name really work or is it just an exercise in rhetoric?

What Luneta really needs is a physical rework — the upgrading of landscape and hardscape, the restoration of security and decency, sanitation, and the programming of services and attractions (software). The business of renaming, like talk, is cheap. Doing the things that count requires a lot of circumspection and fund-raising. The late revered journalist Doroy Valencia, builder of the current Luneta, put the money where his mouth was. Banking on his name and position, Doroy raised money from friends and patrons and managed the transformation of the Luneta into a friendly park.

To us, what Luneta really needs is the creation of a stately, dignified ambience; after all, it is the sacred ground where Jose Rizal and Gomburza shed their blood. Whatever rework is done should be in good taste, minimalist — not cluttered. Elements should all lead toward the central element, which is Rizal’s monument.

As important is unifying the park, that is, Roxas Blvd. and Maria Orosa St. should not traverse the park anymore. Parts of these busy streets that cut across Luneta should be put underground for purposes of unity, safety of the park users, and design integrity.

Some sort of gateway should be erected on the Taft Avenue side of the park. Most park visitors go by public transport and drop off on Taft Ave. Putting a gateway as suggested will serve as a welcome and convergence point.

A section, perhaps the land beside the National Library, can be developed into an underground parking. The top of it can be made into a retail area where people can eat, use the toilet or the ATM, or buy films, etc.

A horse-drawn or electric tram can run around the park to transport people from point to point.

The seaside back of Quirino Grandstand can be developed into a mini-resort where people can rest and have drinks while viewing the famous sunset and the children can play in a friendly, interactive playground.

The Grandstand should be preserved as focal point of big parades and significant events. The road around it can be bricked and made more grandiose. The open space in front of it can be developed into a grassy knoll for games and strolling.

Finally, all the physical improvements will come to naught if Rizal Park cannot be rid of muggers and unscrupulous characters that prey on visitors.

Until the quality audience started going to the malls, Luneta was the place to spend a day with the family. A well-thought of system of providing visitors sensible tours, presentations, and activities aimed at attracting a quality audience will attract exactly that – a quality audience, which is what Luneta really needs badly. Going to Luneta should become a worthwhile experience for tourists and locals alike. Having said that, maybe the last thing that Luneta needs is a new name. (


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