Just outside the centuries-old Walled City of Intramuros, on the fringe of the historic Manila Bay is Luneta, a landmark that was once used as an execution ground for Filipino patriots who dared turn against the Spanish Colonial Empire.
This place was originally known as Campo de Bagumbayan (or new town). It was here, on December 30, 1896 that the man recognized as the greatest Filipino patriot of all time, accused of treason by the Spanish colonial government, was shot by a firing squad. His name: Jose Rizal
On that fateful morning, Rizal left his cell in Fort Santiago, now a national shrine, escorted by armed guards, two Catholic priests and a friend. Rizal then walked the length of the boulevard known as the Paseo de Maria Cristina (which today goes by the name Bonifacio Drive), towards the execution field.
Finally, the moment arrived. It was 7:03 a.m., December 30, 1896. “Long live Spain! Death to traitors!” shouted the troops, but the words seemed to choke in their throats. The Spanish authorities were not ready to take chances: behind the first line of troops stood others ready to do the job if the soldiers disobeyed the order to shoot. (One soldier did, and paid for his defiance with his life.)
The guns fired and Rizal fell to the ground dead.
Jose Rizal has become a symbol of true Filipino heroism for many. In the years after his death, many movements and monuments to honor his legacy were built. Rizal Park which spread 58 hectare of land is one of them.
Today, no one would think that Luneta was once a bloody killing field. It is now a beautifully landscaped park where people would come for rest and recreation. Rizal’s monument is situated a few meters away from the marker indicating the actual execution site. Honor guards are stationed below the monument.
Nearby, is a white-washed obelisk the marked the execution site of martyred priest Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. According to historians, the execution of the three priest in 1872 has left an indelible imprint toa generation of heroes that includes Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, as well as Aguinaldo.
Light and Sound Show
On the northern side of the park (actual site of the execution) is a 30-minute light and sound show that runs everyday at 6:00 pm. This show features the sculpture of Eduardo Castrillo uses vivid imagery to tell the story of the hero’s final days.