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NATIONAL Artist Francisco Sionil José, who went to great beyond last Thursday at the age of 97, described in a recent column the Rizal Park of his pre-war youth: “The Luneta ensemble was a expanse of grass stretching from Taft to the bay except for the grandstand behind the Rizal monument where every Sunday afternoon the Philippine Police Marching Band performed. “

Today’s Luneta is a long way from the times. Since the establishment of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) by Executive Decree 30 issued by President Diosdado Macapagal on January 14, 1963, it has become a sight to behold not only because of its historical significance, but also because of the many characteristics it presents. contains for recreational purposes. As I wrote in my previous column, this is where the martyrs shed their blood for freedom, where we express our freedom and can breathe the fresh air of freedom.

Of course, the park itself is the brand, alive in the popular consciousness for decades. But on December 27, 2021, the park finally launched a logo and rebranding at the Salute to a Clean Flag Movement event. Previously, the park logo was regardless of the NPDC logo.

Under the leadership of NPDC Director Cecille Lorenzana Romero, development of the logo took six months amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Advertising professionals Divine Gil Reyes and graphic designer Benjamin Catindig Jr were chosen to create the brand. They get the job done like a glove. Together with Michelline Suarez and Joonee Garcia, they had created the Halo-Halo Histories series on Philippine history for children and children at heart, widely recognized and awarded as one of the best ways to introduce history to children. Filipinos who understand English (I was one of their consultants). Part of the series was “SinoBayani: José Rizal”. They worked on branding based on their extensive knowledge of the life of the national hero.

According to NPDC Deputy Executive Director Jezreel Gaius A. Apelar, “The new logo was designed with the wise advice of historians, museum experts and other custodians of Filipino culture. The process of creating a logo that best represents the country’s first park was both meticulous and rewarding. ”Through various focused group discussions, they consulted: heritage architect Paolo Alcazaren, the public historian Prof. Ambeth Ocampo, Director of the Department of Tourism, Culture and the Arts of Manila (DTCAM) Charlie Dungo, CEO of the Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones Tourism Promotion Board, National Museum of the Philippine Director Jeremy Barns , Deputy Director General of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority Karen Mae Sarinas-Baydo, and former Director of Nayong Pilipino Lucille Malilong-Isberto.

You could say I’m a lucky bastard to have been consulted as well. The director and deputy executive director were in attendance on September 15, 2020 when the team showed me variations in design between discussions about the history and importance of the park as a center of the national history of the Philippines. .

For the logo, I strongly suggested that they choose the design that looks like a pentagon. It serves a purpose. When I was younger I always read and later taught that the Luneta was called that because the park itself was shaped like a bezel or a crescent moon. But that never made sense because the park is rectangular. It has previously been claimed to extend to what is now Manila’s City Hall district, thus resembling a crescent shape, but I have not found any documentation of this. In fact, the small rectangular portion near Roxas Boulevard was the only part identified on old maps as Paseo de Luneta (or Luneta de Bagumbayan, being the name of the entire region of Ermita and Malate).

Apparently, a book edited by architect Paolo Alcazaren titled Parks for a Nation clarified that there was a fortified defense structure outside of nearby Intramuros (around the current Planetarium building) that was called ” luneta ”, and yes, it was shaped like a half moon.

Thus, besides the colors blue, red and white and the three stars (which are also present at the top of the Rizal monument) – elements of the national flag – and the silhouette of the obelisk of the Rizal monument, which is the most identifiable landmark of nation, the new logo may also spark a conversation about the true and more precise meaning of the Luneta name as a colonial defense structure.

And to the question of knowing what should be its official name, Rizal Park or Luneta Park? I told them that apparently there are many Rizal parks here and abroad, but there is only one ultimate in Manila, also known to the Common Tao (and Rico J. Puno ) under the name Luneta. Both should be reflected. They told me I was the first to make the suggestion, and they accepted it.

Therefore, the park will now officially be called “Rizal Park Luneta”.