This was how I felt when the Luceros decided to visit Luneta Park after a children’s party last night. I was pretty excited because the last time I was there was around 10 years ago when I attended the Jesus Revolution. The last time I was in front of our national hero Jose Rizal’s monument was probably when I was in grade school. Aside from an opportunity to spend time with the family, little did I know that it was an opportunity to be “re-educated.”
I did not realize that many people still really hang out in Luneta. They, lovers, families and barkadas alike, were having picnics, complete with mats, food, drinks, and games. I think I rarely did that with my family when I was very young, and I’m sure I never did that with my friends growing up. The fact that Luneta is actually where Rizal was executed, never made an impact on me until yesterday. It’s such a historical place and event that we ought to take pride in it and teach our kids about it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, too, that they regularly show the reenactment of Rizal’s execution. We must catch that one of these days. The fee is only 50 pesos.
We saw the dancing fountain, with all its lights and music. It was no Belaggio, but pretty nonetheless. It was my first time. I was surprised to see Concert at the Park there too! I felt like a total ignoramos, I tell you. I’d seen it broadcast on tv before, but I had no clue that “the Park” was Luneta. We were able to sit and watch a performance by the Magsaysay High School Chorale. They were awesome! Anyone can catch the fountain and the concerts for free. You get an important piece of history, some entertainment, and a dose of Philippine culture and good old Filipino fun.
So why did I miss all this? Am I that citified? Sadly, yes. Though I’m not the type who can’t rough it out in a 1-star hotel, motel or resort, that’s just it. Staying in such places is already roughing it out?? Not that anything’s wrong with that, since I know people who really prefer to visit and stay in high end spots. And don’t get me wrong, I love being able to enjoy such luxuries, even if we’re just “riding along.” But I believe it has somewhat hindered my sense of adventure to discover and experience the beauty of our own country, the beauty of our own people and culture. It may have kept me trapped in my comfort zone, thinking that it’s not worth my time or effort. Sure, I understand that going to public parks can be a hassle, especially with kids in tow — running into too many people and all kinds of people, seeing a lot of trash left all over by undisciplined people, having no decent nearby bathroom to use, the possibility of getting pick pocketed — but it shouldn’t stop us from educating our kids about their country, their history as Filipinos, by exposing them to such places.
Even though visiting Luneta didn’t really make a historical impact on them yet, my kids enjoyed the trip, especially because all their cousins were there. If we visit such parks often enough, I’m sure they’ll pick up the history and a love for their own country, not to mention learn so many other things — from throwing trash properly and having a sense of ownership, to not looking down on others who are less fortunate and being thankful for what they have. I don’t want my children to be ignorant. I don’t want them to be foreigners in their own land.