Old Manila/Rizal Park Outing

Once in a great while, a group senior missionary activity is organized. A few weekends ago, an excursion was organized to Rizal Park in Old Manila.

A bit of background – Jose Riza was a Filipino reformer in the 1890s and is admired by Filipinos for his nationalistic writings and activities. He was executed for treason on December 30, 1896 by the Spanish colonial government. His writings helped inspire the Philippine Revolution against colonial rule. December 30th is celebrated as Rizal Day which is similar to our President’s Day. 

An Adventure Begins

Just before embarking on our first Jeepney ride. Jeepneys come in all colors.

The day started with a Jeepney ride. Jeepneys are one of the primary modes of transportation in the Philippines. The term Jeepney originates from the American colonial era when the US was given the Philippines as one of the terms of settlement for the Spanish American War. The term continued to evolve during and after WWII  when Jeeps were given to the Filipinos after the war. The Filipinos added carriage seating attached to the back of these Jeeps. The word “jeepney” is a combination of post-World War II word “jeep” and pre-war word “jitney”, both words were common slang of the era. This term stuck until it has become a part of Filipino culture and its lexicon today.  There are tens of thousands of Jeepneys in the Philippines. Our Jeepney ride was about three miles but 45 minutes in lapsed time in traffic. The cost was a little less than P100 (less than $2.00) for two people.

After disembarking from our Jeepney ride, we boarded a train (like BART in the San Francisco Bay Area); however, the experience was more like riding the subways Tokyo or NYC if you measure the number of people per square inch in a train car. After the train ride, there was a long walk in the heat and humidity to Rizal Park where we toured the Museum of Natural History. Marcia said this museum tour was the best part of the day – it was air conditioned – and she wanted to stay and see more of the exhibits but the group wanted to move on. 

Marcia showing her absolute excitement before entering the Natural History Museum in Manila

The Natural History Museum is Amazing

Before we began our walk through the museum, as we were gathering our group for a photo op, another group of people noticed our name tags (those name missionary tags again) and introduced themselves as Filipino Saints from Cavite, a costal providence south of Manila several hours. They come to Manila to drop off several missionaries that were entering at the MTC in Quezon City to begin their missions. They were taking in the sites before returning home. We asked them to join our group for a picture.

Turtle Nest Exhibit 

Marcia with Krystyn Meyer, a senior missionary from Pleasant View, UT serving is as a Member and Leadership Support Missionary senior couple for the Philippines and are based in Quezon City.


Of note, this is a 22-foot crocodile is native to the Philippines.

The Filipinos have a lot of respect for their elders as demonstrated by the “Senior Citizens’ Garden in Rizal Park.

The morning progressed with a walk around Rizal Park to see historical statues and the Chinese and Japanese Gardens ending with lunch at the Rizal Park Hotel. When all of the senior missionaries walked into the hotel lobby, it was a scary scene of 30 gray-haired senior water-depleted missionaries descending on an unsuspecting restaurant wait staff.

The Manila Hotel

After a nice lunch and renewed strength, the roving pack of senior missionary couples ventured over to the Manila Hotel.

Marcia & Sister Johnson get ready to entire the Manila Hotel. Sister Johnson is a one of several mental health advisors and her husband is one of four medical physicians that are serving as medical advisors at the MTC.

The Manila hotel has a rich history that few hotels in the world can match. The hotel was built in 1912 and was one of the marques hotels in the world at the time. It went through a major renovation in 1935 and served as General Mac Arthur’s headquarter during WWII and when the Americans were driven out of Manila during the war, was the headquarters for the Japanese army who burned the hotel before leaving at the end of the war. 

Hotel Entrance

The Manila Hotel was rebuilt after the WWII and renovated again under President Marcos in the 1970s. Marcos’ wife Imelda’s patronage of the hotel garnered awards and international recognition for the hotel. It was renovated again for its 100th anniversary in 2012. It’s a stately ol’ building serving as the home of numerous political gatherings, conventions, and balls in recent years. 

Painting of Early Explores to the Philippines Discovered by Grey-Haired Old People

Even though some of the more warrior-like senior missionaries decided to retrace the morning’s journey in the return trip home, I could see that my dear wife wasn’t up for the trip home on train and the Jeepney.  I hailed a Grab (the Filipino version of Uber) for an hour-long air-conditioned ride home with another couple, an oral surgeon from Dallas Texas serving in the MTC. As I unlocked the door to our apartment, I stepped aside and before I could close the door to our apartment, I saw clothes littering the hallway and heard the shower water running.

Another Finding Sunday

We joined other senior couples and ward members to spend a Sunday afternoon roam a local Barangay seeking to find lost members. This is a family we found who were delighted to see us. 

What we continue to learn in the Philippines:

Gas Attendants

There are no self-pumping gas stations in the Philippines. When you pull into a gas station, an attendant is there to pump your gas, check your tire’ air pressure and oil, top off your fuel at a full tank, and clean your windshields, if desired.

Thought for the day:

Be like a duck. Be calm on the outside, but paddling like crazy below the surface. (Something we’ve mastered as we learn our job and responsiblities here in the Philippines)

Scripture for the Week:

Hebrews 5: 8-10: Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him…