08-23-2010: Bloodshed at Quirino Grandstand Manila

Quirino Grandstand Flags. The location of the hostage drama

Indeed, Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, central Manila, capital of the Philippines, is one historical place. It was here where several presidents took their oaths, celebrate the independence of the country from the United States, concerts and a whole lot more. It is a landmark dedicated to the former President Elpidio Quirino. The Grandstand that I guess all Filipinos know and synonymous to Luneta and Rizal Park-just several meters away from the place. On August 01, 2010, the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, took oath here. On August 23, 2010-a massacre unfolds as a former policeman took hostage of Hong Kong nationals in a stand-off that left the hostage and several hostages dead, and a mark of trauma in the image of the Philippines in the international community. Luneta has seen another blood spilt over her domain.

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The 112th Philippine Independence Day Celebrations at Luneta: A Reflection

A century and 12 years later, the Republic of the Philippines celebrated its freedom from the Spanish Empire with a float, performance and parade gala at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila. Since this is the last year of the outgoing president Gloria Arroyo, the government allotted PhP10 million for the whole programme. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (Yes, another name change. It was National Historical Institute) was the main organizer of the programme “Kalayaan 2010″ (Freedom 2010). I wasn’t able to see the traditional flag raising at Aguinaldo’s House at Kawit (its too early! Good luck at baka trapik sa Binakayan galing dito sa Imus!) so I went to Luneta that afternoon for the civic and military parade.

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Luneta: Reminiscing the Last Footprints of Rizal

Rizal Monument, Manila

It was December 30, 1896, a cool crisp morning in the Spanish colonial Manila. The drums were rolling and the crowds gathered in Bagumbayan, the place were so-called erehes and pilibusteros were executed. Along with the band from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan were some guardia civil, officials and several religious figures. At 7:06 in the morning, the loud command “fuego” jostled the crowd, and bullets hit the man in a black suit wearing a hat. It was Jose Rizal, so-called “leader of insurgents and a rebel.” But his death on that fateful morning has sealed the destiny of the Filipino people to fight for freedom against their European colonizers…the death that forever changed the history of the Filipino people.

More than a century later, I tried to retrace the last footsteps of Rizal by going to Luneta that morning. Unfortunately, I woke up late. Together with a companion, we traced back the last footsteps of Rizal, from Luneta all the way to Fort Santiago (well, we did in reverse for our convenience, hehe!) in several series.

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