09 Jan2008


Great cities, by definition, MUST have great parks, in my opinion. The parks of Paris, the numerous ones in London, the green spaces in Melbourne, all bring a bit of nature into a relatively concentrated urban area. In New York, Central Park is the heart of the city in many ways. Hundreds of thousands of residents use this massive green space every day… for a casual stroll, a healthy jog, for kids to expend energy, to skate, visit a zoo or botanical garden and in the past, to ride one’s horse! Manila was originally planned by Daniel Burnham, the same guy who mapped out Washington, DC, if I am not mistaken, and the original plans for Manila (as with Baguio) included huge parks and open spaces. But somehow, The Luneta today just doesn’t cut it for me, or maybe I just live too far away from it to enjoy it. And poor urban planning or an overrun original plan has resulted in a rather chaotic metropolis park wise…


About the same size as the ritzy principality of Monaco, Central Park runs some fifty short blocks from 59th to about 110th Street, and is some 843 acres, 6% of the total land area of Manhattan, according to the official Central Park website, here. Today, it is one of the best maintained parks in the world. It wasn’t always that way, I recall a bleak period in the 1970’s or thereabouts where it was unkempt, home to the homeless and dangerous at dusk onwards. But today, Central Park is an absolute joy to stroll in. Sit at a bench and daydream. Sunbathe on a sunny day. Picnic. Whatever. On our most recent visit to New York, the Kid met up with a very good friend who moved back to New York state almost a year ago. They were able to spend a couple of days together and on one afternoon, I spent some time with them in Central Park.


So green in the summer, the park in winter remains extremely charming, despite all of the trees (except evergreens) being bare, and most of the ground covered with brown leaves. The squirrels were much more visible without leaf cover and the ponds were emptied of most of their water.


The girls had time to catch up on chismis and basically just relax, while strolling through a couple of miles within the park… A very pleasant afternoon indeed.



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Central Park has been used in a lot of movie sets and it was where John Lennon met his untimely demise. Die hard John Lennon fans still hold candle light Virgil there once a year on his death anniversary.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 6:18 am


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  3. fried-neurons says:

    You’re absolutely right about good urban parks being a necessity in any place that aims to be a great city. SF has Golden Gate Park as its main one. I also like the Mall in Washington, DC, even though it’s overrun with tourists. My absolute favorite has to be Stanley Park in Vancouver, though.

    Central Park is also fantastic. Some years ago, when my cousin got married, my mom, my brother, and I stayed in a knockout suite at the Essex House on Central Park South. The view from our massive window was the southern end of the park. We could see all the towers along Fifth Avenue to the right and Central Park West to the left, along with Tavern on the Green (which was lit beautifully at night) inside the park itself. Absolutely breathtaking.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 6:21 am

  4. wysgal says:

    La Mesa Park in Quezon City is supposed to be pretty good, although I’ve never been there myself. And aside from that I would think the next best thing you would have to “open” green spaces would be the UP (or even Ateneo) campus.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 6:40 am

  5. dhayL says:

    I’ve never been to Central Park before, however, the last movie we saw that featured Central Park was “Enchanted”, where they did a song number in and around the park. It was very spacious and very well kept. I’d like to take my daughter there next time we visit NY! For those people who work and live nearby, they’re lucky to have access to such wonderful place!

    Jan 9, 2008 | 6:43 am

  6. New Yorker says:

    Central Park is probably my favorite place in Manhattan. In the spring, the Reservoir is absolutely breathtaking with the Japanese cherry trees in bloom. Further up in the northern end of the park by 102nd St, the Conservatory Gardens are just gorgeous. The formal garden has thousands of tulips and daffodils of all shapes, sizes and colors, while fragrant lilac trees bloom in the southern side of the garden. It’s amazing how quiet it is in Central Park, even though there is busy traffic on 5th Ave and CPW all the time. It is a wonderful place to relax and appreciate nature all year round.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 7:33 am

  7. chunky says:

    Yes! We definitely need parks somewhere- for most families, going to the mall have become a ritual on weekends to get together. and i hope we get to develop the discipline to keep our parks clean and smelling good. i can only wish at this point…

    Jan 9, 2008 | 8:40 am

  8. Titans says:

    Lafayette laid the original plans for Washington, DC. in 1791. Burnham did design several notable DC buildings (e.g., Union Station) and expanded on Lafayette’s plans in the early 1900s.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 8:43 am

  9. Sands says:

    On Sundays, UP Sunken Garden is wonderfully pleasing to the eyes and relaxing to the soul. There you’ll see people jogging or playing frisbee and football, families and friends having a picnic, children eating sorbetes, fathers playing catch with their sons, and lolos taking their favorite apo on a casual stroll. I highly recommend the experience to those who simply want to take a breather from their usual fast-paced, stressful routines.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 8:57 am

  10. Blaise says:

    We have an abundance of malls here in Manila..

    Jan 9, 2008 | 9:05 am

  11. bealtea says:

    Oh what I would do to run around Central Park, hearing the leaves crunch, cushioning every single step… that would rank close to the top on my list of places to run.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 9:18 am

  12. michelle says:

    I remember my childhood in NY. When the weather was good, we walked from school – Marymount (across the MET) to the park for lunch. Otherwise, it was the tea room (a nice name for the luch room)…Manila needs more parks. Or green pockets.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 10:07 am

  13. Madeline says:

    How I wish we can have a park like that here in the Philippines. I had been to the parking area viewing the golden gate at night and it was definitely relaxing to the nerves.

    Once I strolled around the park near our house, I just left my umbrella in the bench and in less than 5 minutes and it was gone!

    Jan 9, 2008 | 10:18 am

  14. Carlo says:

    I really wish there were more parks in HK. There’s just too many buildings and not enough open public spaces where one can stroll around. Unfortunately, land is a premium here and it just doesn’t make economic sense to have parks in this cramped city.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 10:46 am

  15. Teresa says:

    I’m happy for the Kid, that is having the chance to catch up with a good friend. And thanks to you MM for making it happen. I too encourage my kids to work on childhood friendships to last unto adulthood. MM you are a good parent.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 10:52 am

  16. Katrina says:

    I watched a show on TV that featured Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect of Central Park and many more famous green spaces in the US. The facts and figures, as well as the history, of Central Park are absolutely awesome!

    Not that they can really be compared, but I do wish Luneta could be Manila’s own version. Unfortunately, many factors have made it an unsafe and unsavory park to wander in, especially after dark. Still, I can understand why that is so. What irks me is that Makati — a wealthy community, and Ayala Land — a company that isn’t exactly hard-up — could not preserve the few green spaces it had. Ugarte Triangle used to be a pretty big park, till they built the Makati Stock Exchange, etc. on it. The already-inadequate Greenbelt Park is now even smaller with the expanded mall. There is the newly-renamed and landscaped Washington Sycip Park in Legazpi Village, but that’s tiny. Considering how much pollution there is in Makati (again, no thanks to greed and poor planning), these few green parks are simply not enough for the city. No wonder everyone’s at the malls.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 1:34 pm

  17. a gan says:

    i think people still ride horses in the park, but there’s way too few of them :)

    Jan 9, 2008 | 1:39 pm

  18. Marketman says:

    a gan, unfortunately, they finally banned horses from the park a few months ago. So the last remaining stables on the West side have closed/moved… Katrina, I agree with you, the lack of green space outside of villages in Makati is utterly appalling. Teresa, I am glad you caught that tidbit…and yes, I think The Kid catching up with old friends is a priority in many senses. Carlo, yup, HK could use a few more green spaces… thrilled that U.P. has the sunken gardens… I think we need more nice college campuses as well… and at 100, you would hope maintenance of buildings would be more of a priority…

    Jan 9, 2008 | 2:31 pm

  19. elaine says:

    exclusive villages here in manila have really nice parks:clean, preserved trees, trimmed grass, segregated garbage disposals around, safe playground for kids, benches and picnic tables.. because these villages have budgets to maintain them and impose fines for park rule violation. Unfortunately, outside these gated villages, our public parks remain to be seen as such. Rizal Park do sweepers all the time pero kawawa naman sila,THEY ALWAYS sweep because of the total lack of discipline on the part of the local tourists. I still admire U>P, though, for its lush greens but its safety may only be felt at certain hours.
    Never got the chance to visit THE central park, but I’ve been to some really quaint but lovely parks in portland,gregon and in the small town of barre,vt…travelling officials should really get their inspiration from the places they visit , at least outside of asia.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 2:53 pm

  20. carina says:

    my bestfriend and i dream of going to new york just to walk at the central park and just take TONS of photos :)

    Jan 9, 2008 | 5:59 pm

  21. patty says:

    I’ve only been to Central Park once, with my family. Unfortunately, my siblings tire easily and we had minimal time, so we were not able to see most of the park’s sights. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back next time, with lots of time to spare.

    Jan 9, 2008 | 7:31 pm

  22. sister says:

    Someone needs to organize a Luneta Conservancy and raise money from the private sector. The upkeep and fantastic condition of Central Park is thanks not only to the Parks Dep’t. but prinmarily to the non-profit Central Park Conservancy who has organized, planted, supported the upkeep and well being of the Park. Central Park is very heavily visited, not only by strollers,bikers, runners, and joggers but also is the venue for free concerts, opera, and Shakespeare in the Park in the summer. You can’t just wait for the gov’t. to do everything.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 1:02 am

  23. Raneli says:

    Its sad though,we are a tropical country that can grow lush greenery and yet a big urban jungle like Makati or Manila cannot even provide adequate decent parks or open spaces that are accessible enough,clean and safe. Never took the time out to visit Central Park yet, but I have been to marvelous Kensington Palace Gardens in London, Botanical Park in Melbourne, etc. These were my quiet retreats whenever I would secretly veer away from senseless shopping or mad chatter from colleagues. You will be even surprised that even in the city of New Delhi, there are massive open spaces for families and ordinary folks to escape and get away from the maddening crowds. I know , I hate it when I would lambast again our country for not coming up to par, pero we could do so much. Kaya naman natin..and yet sorry to say..bulok ang urban planning natin.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 2:15 am

  24. Ebba Myra says:

    Well as much as I admitted that I hate the Marcos era, during the “green Revolution under Imelda, LUneta was wonderful. And so does the Japanese Garden. Now, when I visited the same place 4 yrs ago, I asked my relatives for us to go pasyal in the same place, and they gave me a “kunot noo”. Meron daw ba akong katagpoong boyfriend. The gold fish are gone, and the “green lawn” before the grandstand is also gone. I did come back at 2006, its a little much better, but nothing like how it was before. Pati na “Deweu Blvd” hindi ka na rin maka-stroll.

    Jan 10, 2008 | 1:09 pm

  25. edel says:

    when i was young, we always frequent luneta.. the lawns were definitely green and well-kept.. we loved the japanese and chinese garden, and the bay area at the back of the quirino grandstand.. there were also nice playground there

    re: free concerts.. me concert at the park pa ba???

    Jan 10, 2008 | 1:39 pm

  26. jafores says:

    I agree Parks are important, unfortuntely the climate in our metropolis will not allow us to enjoy and appreciate the benefits as much as say New york and the like. Yes it is visually appealing etc but just like in the many villages and maybe even in luneta, parks are underutilized in our country. Unforunately Malls are our parks, not just to shop but to keep cool and be in a place where one can relax and have a meal

    Jan 11, 2008 | 9:28 pm

  27. Madeline says:

    I remembered the garden in UST! Just strolling there relaxes me. It is like another world outside the university belt. When I was a student there 22 years ago, it relaxes me just by studying my lessons under those old trees.

    How I wish there are schools near our vicinity like UST. My nephew is already 1 1/2 years old. This early we are already thinking of a school for him. UST is already too far because of the traffic.

    Mayor Atienza had developed the park in Lawton. However, you wont feel safe sitting there. There are many thieves in downtown Manila. Instead of being relaxed you will be stressed out by these things in your mind.

    Jan 16, 2008 | 11:42 am


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