Almost Zen

Last February 4, I joined the creative writing workshop organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). February is the National Arts Month and the theme for this year was “Ani ng Sining, Alab ng Sining” (Harvest of Arts, Flame of Arts). The resource persons for the workshop were the author Eros Atalia and poet MJ Rafal, who spoke mostly about humor, its use in literature, and how to wield it.

For merely being a registrant of the workshop, I received March-April 2017 issue of Agung, the bimonthly magazine of the NCCA. For asking a question, I was given a choice of the books the organizers brought with them; I chose Archi[types/text]: Architecture in the Philippines.

Predictably, the workshop ended earlier than the others. So, I roamed Rizal Park for a while and discovered that the Japanese Garden, like all other private gardens in the park, offered free entrance. Because I had time, I decided to enter. It was my first time there and I found it quite beautiful, albeit a bit crowded because there were a lot of people due to the free entrance.

I felt almost zen there among the structures that captured the look and feel of Japanese gardens. There was a dried up fall and canal, which would have added more charm to the place. The only body of water there is a sizeable murky pond surrounded by a number of trees, some of which are Golden Shower trees.

Easily overlooked were a slab of marble with a face and the words “From Hiroshima” carved on to it and a block monument commemorating the thirteen martyrs of Bagumbayan as well as the Masons.

One of the last Japanese structures I saw was the bright red torii and the diamond window.

The Japanese Garden had to close so I found myself wandering again and I found myself walking towards the Kilometer Zero marker, the heart of Manila and of the Philippines. It’s where distance in the whole country is based. It’s also the point where the capital and the country are tagged.


Japanese Garden
Rizal Park, Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Manila


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