Friday, April 18th, 2003: This is Easter Week. Easter Week in the Philippines means everything is closed. Yesterday we tried going to Glorietta so we could order Nicholas a birthday cake and get some shoes to replace the ones he’s outgrown. No such luck.
It was locked up tight and from what we could figure out from the guard, it wouldn’t be open until Saturday. Don’t quote me on that though. So we went to PriceSmart instead and did a big shopping. Bought another interesting looking fruit that I’ve never heard of called a soursop and while we had a fruit salad with lunch, I held off on adding that since I didn’t want to ruin everything else if it turns out to be icky.
Made a huge Amazon order last night (hey, I have 2 pairs of jeans and one is tearing, and I managed to ruin a good pair of shorts this week when handling bleach), and talked to my parents. They are busy this week too, as Easter Week always is at St. Michaels. They practically live at church from Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon. Today being Good Friday, they’ll be in chuch from 11 to 4 to do Good Friday service, but also for the three hours of the Seven Last Words. It’s much more exhausting than even Midnight Mass for Christmas.
Today we figured we’d do something outdoors. Less chance of it being closed. So we were off to Rizal Park. Dr. Jose Rizal was born in 1861 and killed in 1896 by firing squad. For a very simple background on him, check out http://www.univie.ac.at/Voelkerkunde/apsis/aufi/jorizal.htm or do a Google search for his name and read all about him. Every town in the Philippines has a street named after him, and here in Manila his bones are interred under a large statue of him at the park built in his honor. In another part of the park is the site of his untimely death. Actually, many people were executed in the area, a couple were strangled to death. How, you may ask? The plaque has an engraved picture of the device. Sturdy wooden chair with a vice to go our your neck, slowly tightened as you strangle. Pleasant.
Aside from all the death and misery that happened there, it’s a lovely park, well kept with open grassy areas in the middle along with pools reminiscent of the DC reflecting pools (though not nearly as large). Folks seem to hang around, having picnics and just enjoying being outside in the shade. It appears that the park is one of very few green areas in the city to be enjoyed by the public.
We walked down one side of the park and took in the sights. We passed ice cream stands and folks selling bobbles of this or that, but in the park itself is a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden and much to our surprise and joy, a Chess plaza. Groups of men gathered around players. We watched one game end (badly, I should add) and another one where a player just gave up. I’m not sure it was because he knew he couldn’t win. He may have just not wanted us watching. There were board mats for rent, though one wonders why since each table had 2 stone carved boards on its surface. There were also plenty of cats which the boys just adored and Nicholas nearly got his hand on one before I yelled at him to stop and he snatched his hand away. He wasn’t a happy camper after that. But honestly, there are cats all over (I can only assume the dogs end up as dinner somewhere) and at the chess plaza there were cats and kittens everywhere.
Along the way is the National Museum, the National Library, and at the very end a giant relief in a pool, of the Philippine islands. That was pretty cool. Must have been low tide though. Coming back down the other way there is a dinosaur playground (it’s exactly what it sounds like, but no, not for dinosaurs), a pigeon sanctuary with big bird hotels in several trees and a reflexology therapist in the same cave as the park police.
It was hot out (duh) so we got back in the car that magically appeared on the street and came home. We do plan to go back sometime, and to Intramuros, but preferably when it’s not a holiday with everything closed. After all, seeing the inside of the museum would have been nice and getting to play on the dinosaurs would have made the kids’ day. After the boys get up from their nap we plan to go swimming at Seafront.