To restore Rizal Park’s old glory as a cradle of Filipino nationalism, as well as to make it the Philippines’ beacon to the world, are the two things that Cecille Lorenzana-Romero immediately thought of upon being designated Executive Director of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC).
Romero took her oath last July 9 officiated by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. The NPDC is an attached agency of DOT, mandated by Executive Order Nos. 30 and 69 “to develop, preserve and manage Rizal Park and Paco Park in Manila and other national parks that may be assigned to it.”
The 45-year old new NPDC administrator brings the vision and passion of a 14-year veteran of grade school and high school teacher and years of marketing experience.
“I am elated with the opportunity to serve the public under the Duterte administration and there is no ideal place to do it other than the Rizal Park, the site of our national hero’s martyrdom that made Luneta’s hallowed ground the bedrock of patriotism,” says Romero.
She points out that it is the authentic and enduring historical features that make 53-hectare Rizal Park and the one-hectare Paco Park very compelling to visit for both foreign and domestic tourists especially at this time of revival of nationalism.
“Ultimately, Rizal Park must remain a true people’s park where Filipino families can commune with nature and have fun,” says Romero, an environmental advocate since her high school days in Assumption College Makati and in the University of the Philippines where she graduated Mass Communication.
Students, in particular, must have a stake in Rizal Park’s preservation as it provides them the open space and greenery that most of the local schools lack. “It’s where our young people, whom Dr. Rizal said are the hope of our Motherland, must have free access to scientific study of the exotic trees and the Philippines’ flora and fauna,” says Romero, admitting she cannot help sounding like a teacher.
“It also reminds me of the National Mall in Washington D.C. which inspired the architect Daniel Burnham to design Rizal Park as a sprawling government center during the early days of American Occupation,” says Romero.
The NPDC executive director says she hopes to strengthen partnership with the Intramuros Administration (IA) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to develop an integrated public tour of Rizal’s Shrine in Fort Santiago and Rizal Park.
Meanwhile, Romero says she intends to hit the ground running as she welcomes Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s initiative to rejuvenate tourism in the nation’s capital city.
“We should not waste time cleaning it up and make it environmentally sustainable, safe and secure as it was in its glorious days, a world-class model park,” says Romero.