Those who miss the Nayong Pilipino in its heyday are in for a wonderful treat. The famous Lagoon Show will return for a grand festival of Philippine native dance on December 18, December 25 (Christmas Day), 2011 and January 1, 2012 (New Year’s Day), at 4:00pm. Admission will be free.
The Lagoon Show features a stylized Vinta that will float along the lagoon of the Nayong Pilipino, with dancers on board performing the Pangalay, Happatong and the Janggay, and other native dances that have long been part of the artistic history of the Philippines.
The Lagoon Show is the most remarkable among the cultural presentations at the Nayong Pilipino. In 1991 when athletes and delegates to the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) were feted at the Nayong Pilipino, the dancers became the show-stoppers and became embedded in the memory of those who watched it. Nayong Pilipino Foundation Director Atty. Apolonio B. Anota Jr. relates, “Four years later when the SEA Games were held in Jakarta, several of the delegates mentioned that their most vivid memory of the SEA Games in the Philippines were the dancers on the water. I told them that it was at the Nayong Pilipino.”
In December and January that memory will come alive once more. The new “floating stage” has been constructed and tested, and found lagoon-worthy. The dancers who once formed the Nayong Pilipino dance ensemble have come home to the park to regroup and revive the lost art of native dance. Other cultural performers, such as the Pasaknungan, have been contacted and encouraged to return to their homebase.
The new and as yet unadorned vinta given a test run by Atty Anota (in white barong), some of the dance ensemble and NP staff
Rise and rise again.
A true landmark is indelible in the hearts of those who hold it dear. This is especially undeniable about the Nayong Pilipino in Pasay City. Decades ago it was the prime destination for tourists passing through the city, and for school children on their annual school field trips. It has been mentioned in several international tourism guides as a must-see spot, right alongside the Luneta and the Fort Santiago in Intramuros.
But the years have not been kind to the Nayong Pilipino. Administrations after People Power have all but conspired to close this park, with E.O. after E.O. issued ordering its closure. But despite all that, the Nayong Pilipino closed only on paper. Park goers, exercise buffs and sportsmen in training still picnicked, brisk-walked, jogged and ran under the canopy of trees and the expanse of green that lived on despite years of neglect under different and indifferent administrators.
In October of 2010 things took a turn for the better. Atty. Apolonio B. Anota Jr., who once served as Director of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation in 1990 to 1993, was again appointed to the same position. It was then when he started the initiative to make the Nayong Pilipino the nursery from which will come the “orchidisation” of Manila.
The Benigno Aquino Orchid
“We can have 35 thousand orchids by September 2012,” says Atty. Anota. “We have 35 hectares of land. In time the Nayong Pilipino can be written into the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest orchidarium in the world, bigger even than the Orchidarium of Singapore.” From this nursery and orchidarium will come the orchids that will be placed at the Rizal Park, the Intramuros, and various other parks in the metropolis.
Just recently, a leg of the 4th Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk was held at the Nayong Pilipino, with the cooperation of Atty. Anota and the Nayong Pilipino Foundation. More than 80 photographers took photos of the park and its remaining features. As a result, more than a hundred pictures of the revived and rejuvenated Nayong Pilipino flooded Facebook and the Internet, proving once again that the park is still alive despite its “closed” status.
“Bukas pa pala yun?”
“It’s still open?” That is the usual reaction when people hear about the Nayong Pilipino. Apparently it was just assumed that the park had closed over the years. But Kelby Photowalker Roland Fuerte took his son Carlo to the walk because he wanted to share with him the memories of his own schoolboy days and field trips to the Nayon. Dr. Angel Gozum walked with his son Xavier for the same reason. The Kelby Photowalk only allowed 50 walkers per group, which necessitated the creation of a parallel walk in tandem with the main walk, to accommodate the more than 100 walkers who registered, and who may have all shown up had October 1, 2011 been a sunnier day.
Some of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalkers at the Nayong Pilipino
Yes, the Nayong Pilipino is open, and offers free entrance to the public. The park welcomes families, joggers, basketball teams, volleyball players and even rod fishermen to take advantage of its facilities. The Nayong Pilipino is open and it will remain open for as long as it remains in the hearts and minds of those who know and love this park.