Our economy is booming, our beaches are topping world’s best lists, the future looks bright—there is no better time to be proud to be Pinoy. Looking for a meaningful way to commemorate the 115th anniversary of Philippine independence? Do more this weekend and feel patriotic in these spots around the metro.
If your last visit to Rizal Park (AKA Luneta) was picnicking on the grounds, buying balloons, and watching the magnificent Manila Bay sunset as a child, it’s high time for another visit. As an adult, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the significance of the Rizal Monument honoring national hero Jose Rizal, whose execution in 1896 sparked the revolution against Spanish colonizers that led to the freedom we enjoy today. 

Across the Rizal Monument, you’ll find the Kilometer Zero marker, from which all road distances in the Philippines are measured. Oh, and for cheap thrills, there’s now a Musical Dancing Fountain! This month, cool events are scheduled at Rizal Park for a dose of history, culture, and fun, rolled into one. “There will be a labyrinth made of chalk [Walking Labyrinth at the Kanlungan ng Sining], an eco light exhibit, classical concerts, and I might hold a Luneta Walk,” tips irreverent tour guide Carlos Celdran.
Other events include: free Tagalog movies, a job fair, OPM concerts and folk dances, a traditional Philippine Bazaar (at the Burnham Green, in front of the Grandstand), and an art exhibit entitled Botong Francisco at Lucio San Pedro: Sentenaryo at the art gallery, at the Kanlungan ng Sining, Rizal Park from June 7-14, 2013. These are all public service projects of the National Parks Development Committee. Rizal Park is located along Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
Up for some adventure? Take a short ferry ride from Manila Bay to Corregidor Island, which was once heavily fortified to defend the City of Manila from attacks by enemy warships, especially during World War II. Join a day tour or explore the island on your own. Here, history buffs will be fascinated with war relics such as guns and mortars, as well as incredibly Instagrammable ruins (watch your step!). Visit the Malinta Tunnel (and get an instant history lesson via the light and sound show), the Filipino Heroes Memorial (featuring murals depicting battles dating back to the 15th century), the Japanese Garden of Peace, and the Pacific War Memorial, honoring Filipino and American soldiers who perished in World War II.
If you’re tired of information overload, enjoy activities like riding ATVs, ziplining, hiking, and birdwatching. Want to hang around and trade ghost stories all night? Check in at Corregidor Inn or Hostel, then wake at the break of dawn and head to the island’s tailside to view the sunrise. For tour information, visit www.corregidorphilippines.com.  
Brush up on your art history at the stately, newly-rehabilitated National Museum (next to Rizal Park), where you will be blown away by works of our national artists, including the world-famous Spoliarium by 19th century master Juan Luna. Visit the Metropolitan Museum for Philippine contemporary art. (In a previous exhibit, we even spotted the cartoon drawings of Jose Rizal, bringing to life his fables such as “Matsing at Pagong”—revealing yet another side to this ultimate Renaissance man.) If you’re a mallrat, drop by the Ayala Museum at the heart of the commercial center in Makati, where you will find dioramas and an exhibit featuring the ancient gold jewelry of the Philippines. P.S. Most museums are closed on Mondays and national holidays (including Independence Day, oops), so it’s best to check their websites before planning a visit.

Aguinaldo Shrine
Take a little field trip to the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, where the independence of the Philippines from Spain was declared on June 12, 1898. This is the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Republic of the Philippines, and today, houses a museum on the ground floor for Aguinaldo’s memorabilia and historical artifacts, though some will probably be more interested in the secret passages!Paula Peralejo-Fernandez, an avid traveler and blogger shares that this would be her top place to celebrate Independence Day. “It’s well-kept, only a short distance from Manila, and that window from where independence was proclaimed gives me the goosebumps!”

Located along Tirona Highway. The house and museum are open Tuesday to Sunday, 8 AM to 4 PM.
Paco Park
Beyond the walled city, pay a visit to the nearby Paco Park along General Luna St. (Open Monday to Sunday, except Wednesday, from 8 AM to 5 PM.) This national park and chapel oozes with romantic and ever so slightly macabre colonial charm—after all, it was originally intended as a cemetery for aristocratic Spanish families. The park is a popular place for a lovely promenade, and is the final resting place of theGomBurZa Filipino priest martyrs who fought for freedom from 330 years of Spanish rule, and also where Rizal was originally interred.
If you are old enough, you may remember that this is where they would hold the televised “Paco Park Presents classical concert series, and free concerts are still held here every Friday at 6 PM. Famished? Cross the street to My Kitchen by Chef Chris over at Oasis Paco Park Hotel for delicious Italian fare.
Fort Santiago, Intramuros
Spend the day in the walled city of Manila, where the cobblestone streets and capiz windows hark bark to a bygone era. Marvel at the majesty of the San Agustin Church (a World Heritage site), enjoy the charm and serenity of Father Blanco’s garden, take a peek at how the Philippine elite lived at Casa Manila, dine at classic restaurants like Ilustrado, and pick up iconic and/or kitschy souvenirs at La Monja Loca at the Plaza San Luis. For guided tours, Carlos Celdran has been “changing the way you look at Manila” for years, but if you don’t want to walk his way, he lists some great recommendations on his website (yes, he knows how to share).Read about a reenactment for the Battle for the Liberation of Manila

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