Sunday, June 13, 2004

We're back from an overnight R&R with the family at the Manila Hotel. The overnight stay was a freebie thing since my mom was one of the main organizers of their high school's golden anniversary reunion held at the hotel earlier this year and her classmates gave the gift certificate to her in gratitude for her work. The date for the booking was my brother's idea.

We almost didn't make it yesterday on our way to the hotel since the government people and parade organizers had already closed off almost all the roads leading to the grandstand (which was almost beside the hotel). Good thing my dad persisted and told the police manning the roads that we had already booked a room and there would be no way we're backing out on this one. Sometime later it began to rain hard and by the time we got to the hotel all these participants in the parade - soldiers, parade guards, NGO reps, people arrayed in Filipiniana costumes, etc. - were huddling under the big canopy in front of the entrance. Still some time later we managed to get in and settle inside the room assigned to us. It was situated at the back of the hotel fronting the Manila Bay. Days before this my mom predicted we would be stuck inside the hotel room again for periods of time glued to the boob tube and, we were. We watched the interview with Black Eyed Peas at Channel 23 (they had a concert here last May 29) then we watched the latter half of Dekada '70 (which only two us at that time had seen). Then we went down to eat merienda downstairs at the cafe, took a walk around the swimming pool beside the bay and watched the parade go by. After the last group of participants had passed by we went back upstairs to watch more TV. Half an hour after that, when the ceremonies were finally finished, we were pleasantly surprised by the fireworks show by the bay right outside our window which lasted for around 30 minutes at least. After that we went down again and ate our dinner before going up to watch more TV. We finally slept past 10 p.m.

Old charm from a now floating restaurant.

Hotel lobby in a moment of peace.

Multiple heralds for WWII veterans.

This is part of the float promoting tourism.

Great view outside our window.

Fireworks display over the bay.

The following morning, my mom, brother, and me woke up early to walk around Luneta. It was our big chance to be able to walk around that area at that time of the morning before breakfast. I think the last time were there was when we were still kids. I took pictures of the different plaques and markers dotting the place (the park was a favorite execution place for the Spaniards back then). There's also a plaque at the foot of a large flagpole in front of the Rizal Monument which most people take for granted except on days when there are visiting dignitaries, which marks the spot where Philippine independence was finally granted by the American government to their former colony.

Memorial marker at the foot of the flag pole.

National hero, Jose Rizal's grave monument.

This execution was the spark that led to the Philippine Revolution.

The exact spot where Jose Rizal stood when he was shot.

Topmost part of the monument to Legaspi and Urdaneta.

Some other interesting discoveries about the relevant execution sites in the park include the exact site where Padres Mariano Gomez, Jose Apolonio Burgos and Jacinto Zamora were slowly executed using the garrote (click here for the picture). Then there's the plaque marking the exact spot where Jose Rizal stood when he was shot by firing squad (click here for the picture). The hidden and forgotten monument for the Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite inside the Japanese garden of the park. After making our rounds on the way back to the hotel I asked for a moment to take some quick snapshots of the also-taken-for-granted monument of Captain General Miguel López de Legaspi and Padre Andrés de Urdaneta near the wall of Intramuros (those conquistadores who founded the City of Manila and the Roman Catholic faith in this country; heck out an interesting site regarding the place where they launched their ship). After taking some pictures we went back to the hotel and ate our breakfast, rested and took a bath before packing our bags and checking out of the hotel at 11 a.m. Before going home we checked out this new shopping place which the same guys of CostCo has established in the developing reclamation area near EDSA. Then we ate our lunch (by now we were filled to bursting from all those all-you-can-eat things) before finally going home.

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