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The Rizal Monument.

Rizal Park is situated in the heart of the city of Manila, Philippines. It is at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard, overlooking Manila Bay.

Rizal Park's history began in the early 1700s during the Spanish rule. While Manila's social and business activities were confined within Intramuros, a small area just south of the walls was cleared to prevent sneak attacks from the patriotic natives. The area was shaped like a small moon (lunette) and thus was named Luneta. The Park was also called Bagumbayan (English: New Town) in Spanish colonial era, and later known as Luneta.

Luneta has been the site of some of the most significant moments in Philippine history . Among them are the execution of José Rizal on December 30, 1896, whose martyred death made him a hero of the Philippine Revolution. (It was officially renamed Rizal Park in tribute to him.); the Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule on June 4, 1946; and the political rallies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in 1986.

The 0km marker across the monument also serves as the point of origin or Kilometre Zero to all other cities in the Philippines.



The site is continuously guarded by ceremonial soldiers, known as Kabalyeros de Rizal (Knights of Rizal). His poem, now popularly known as "Mi Ultimo Adios" ("My Last Farewell") is inscribed on the memorial plaque.

The name "Luneta" is synonymous to the word lunette; the park was said to have the shape of a half moon in Spanish times and situated next to a Spanish fort serving as a buffer during rebellions by the locals.

  • Monumentalizing Rizal (text by Robert Paulino)

Bronze and granite monument

The bronze and granite Rizal monument has long been considered among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country. It is almost protocol for visiting dignitaries to lay a wreath at the monument. Located at the Luneta is not merely the statue of the national hero, but also the mausoleum that houses his remains. Both statue and mausoleum are located near the very spot where Rizal was executed.

On 28 September of that same year, the Philippine Assembly approved Act No. 243, “granting the right to use public land upon the Luneta in the city of Manila” where a monument shall be erected to José Rizal.” As conceived by the Act, the monument would not merely consist of a statue, but also a mausoleum to house Rizal’s remains.

A Committee on the Rizal Mausoleum consisting of Poblete, Paciano Rizal (the hero’s brother), Juan Tuason, Teodoro R. Yangco, Mariano Limjap, Maximo Paterno, Ramon Genato, Tomas G. del Rosario and Ariston Bautista was created. The members were tasked, among others, with raising funds through popular subscriptions.

The estimated cost of the monument was P100,000. By January 1905, that goal had been oversubscribed. When the campaign closed in August 1912, the amount collected had reached P135,195.61

More than twelve years after the Philippine Assembly approved Act No. 243, the shrine was finally unveiled on December 30, 1913 during Rizal’s 17th death anniversary.

Rizal Park Since 1930s.

The Rizal Monument in Luneta was designed by a Swiss sculptor named Richard Kissling. Furthermore, Kissling was only the second placer in the international art competition held between 1905 – 1907 for the monument design.

The first-prize winner was Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy. His scaled plaster model titled “Al Martir de Bagumbayan” (To the Martyr of Bagumbayan) bested 40 other accepted entries. Among his plans were the use of marble from Italy (in contrast to the unpolished granite now at Luneta) and the incorporation of more elaborate figurative elements.

Many accounts explained that the contract was awarded to Richard Kissling of Zurich, Switzerland for his “Motto Stella” (Guiding Star) because of Nicoli’s inability to post the required performance bond of P20,000 for the duration of the monument’s construction. Some sources say that Nicoli failed to show up at the designated date for the signing of the job contract. Another narrative declared, “parenthetically, the contract was awarded to Richard Kissling because his quotation was lower that that of Prof. Nicoli’s.” A complaint was reportedly filed by Nicoli through the courts of justice.

Some of the local press lambasted Kissling’s model. It was satirized in a cartoon and labeled vulgar y tosco, meaning “lousy.” The constituents of the Jury of Awards – all Americans and none of whom were artists, architects nor engineers –were also questioned. (Then Governor James F. Smith headed the jury.)

There were plans for the famous Filipino painter Felix Resurrección Hidalgo to inspect and modify the design. However, the latter was ultimately left “as it is” since the bronze of the statues had already been cast in Switzerland.

Steel pylon

Rizal Monument facing Quirino Grandstand.

In Rizal's birth centenary year in 1961, a stainless steel pylon was superimposed over the granite obelisk, increasing the structure's height from 12.7 meters to 30.5 meters. The remodeling undertaken by the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission (JRNCC) was widely criticized. Many found the gleaming modern steel shaft incompatible with the somber granite base. Moreover, the latter seemed to dwarf the much smaller Rizal figure. Others simply dislike the idea of tampering with a popular and traditional image.

The designer of the remodeling was Juan Nakpil, who later became the country's first National Artist for Architecture. He quoted former Secretary of Education and JRNCC chair Manuel Lim as envisioning the pylon as a convenient guide for incoming boats, and for the people lost in their way around the city.

The P145,000 shaft was removed two years later under the request of Secretary of Education Alejandro Roces and Director of Public Libraries Carlos Quirino. It was dismantled during Holy Week, reportedly to prevent any court injunction from restraining them as government offices were closed during holidays.


The park in modern times has become a local spot for families to have picnics on Sundays and holidays and a major tourist attraction of Manila. It has a small man-made lake with a replica of the Philippine archipelago in the middle. The park has recreational value as well, as bands, orchestras and other sorts of entertainment are provided for free in its open-air auditorium, aptly called "Concert at the Park".

Other attractions of Rizal Park include the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Department of Tourism main office, the National Museum of the Filipino People, The National Library of the Philippines, the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, the Planetarium, the monument of Lapu-Lapu, a fountain area, a children's lagoon, a chess plaza, a light and sound presentation on the last days of José Rizal,a large open stone model of the Philippine islands, and the Quirino Grandstand.

On an area on the right side of the park stands a set of statues depicting Rizal's execution, situated on the spot where he was martyred. Contrary to popular belief, the monument is not the spot where he was executed, but the monument is situated there to serve two purposes: to serve a kilometer zero or starting point od measure for the distances from manila, and to guide incoming boats and ships to Manila Bay, prior to the erection of a lighthouse.

The large flagpole in front of the Rizal Monument is Kilometer Zero, the point from which road distances are measured in the Philippines.

Events in History

Japanese Garden at Rizal Park
  • December 30, 1896- José Rizal's execution (see above).
  • July 4, 1946 - Official ceremonies proclaiming a fully-independent Republic of the Philippines were held on this site.
  • January 15, 1995 - The closing Mass of the X World Youth Day 1995 was held at Luneta Park attended by more than 5 million people.


The Japanese government issued 'invasion money' to occupied territories in the Pacific area of operations during World War II (1943), one of which was the Philippines. Out of 3 series, the second was issued in 1, 5, 10, and 100 Peso only. All have the Rizal monument vignette.

The Amazing Race 5 also featured this monument on Leg 12 as Route Marker.

External links

Coordinates: 14°34′54.01″N 120°58′36.10″E / 14.5816694°N 120.976694°E / 14.5816694; 120.976694


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