I am a nature lover and I always make it a point to get in touch with it once in a while but the concrete jungle of the Metropolis and the hustle most often stops me short. When we think of nature, we think of places outside Metropolitan Manila but what I discovered is a slice of nature well within the Metropolis and the country’s premier financial district, Ayala Center Makati. Even as Ayala Center is the home of countless skyscrapers dotting the skyline, Ayala is also home to some of the lovely parks you’ll ever see. In the previous blog, I mentioned going to Washington Sycip Park in order to breathe some fresh and think pleasant thoughts. Washington Sycip is one of country’s premier financial analyst and co-founder of our country’s premier accounting firm which has its headquarters nearby, the SGV Corporation.
Where is Washington Sycip Park anyway? This lovely façade of the Union Church of Manila is the landmark directly facing Washington Sycip Park. The Park is surrounded by four roads but the most notable is Rada Street where Union Church of Manila is located. It is just behind OPL Building where the branch Bacólod’s Heritage Restaurant, Bob’s, is located. It is not hard to miss since it is a pleasant greenery in the middle of tall but relatively old building. A part of the park’s lot is home to Makati Real Estate Association just by the entrance.
The entrance is a lovely wooden gate with lanterns hanging on top with a European-Asian fusion theme on this one. The park entrance prominently displays the signage no entry for animals and no smoking. I guess this is to keep the park clean and trash free. Besides, who would want to ruin his nature walk while stepping on animal poo? The place is a bit cozy and full of towering trees, good for your moments alone or for your prayer time. Aside from lonely moments and prayer, this is also a good place to think of financial strategies since financial quotes from Washington Sycip are posted everywhere.
This one is of particular note to me since it talks about looking on other Asian Models of Economic Development than our usual practice of looking towards the West. His statement got me thinking since we have been doing so for a long time and we have not progressed from where we are slumped. Vietnam has grown past our advantage and Cambodia, another recently wartorn country is also posing to do the same. Pretty insightful for coat and tied people of the financial district, right? It is and no wonder since this is located near company headquarters. Apart from these financial quotes, the park is also a showcase of art.
This particular installation sculpture is hard to miss being the prominent non-natural structure in the Park. However unnatural, this Impy Pilapil sculpture takes inspiration from the mangrove tree. Why mangrove tree? I took a cue from the descripted in front of the sculpture in which in artist remembers the mangrove’s resilience in all kinds of weather. It has been known that a single mangrove tree itself is mini-ecosystem in itself which serves as a protective home for fishes on its watery parts and insects on its leafy branches. Since mangrove is situated between land and water, it is somehow symbolic of our adaptability in any situations. Again, insightful and thought provoking in itself.
There also goes this other Impy Pilapil sculpture called Wishing Stone. One has to take a brush and write your wishes on this so-called Wishing Stone on hopes of it coming true. I don’t believe in the racket and neither was there a brush but a stick came in handy. Choosing to keep my wishes to myself, I summarized all my wishes to the word “Wishes” for this artistic photograph. Even though I don’t believe that this stone has power (only God can grant the desires of our heart), nevertheless this is a good start into searching one’s self and one’s goals in life.
One good feature of the park I like is the piped in relaxing music for those trying to have some relaxing thoughts. Naturally, there would be a speaker installed on tops of trees, right? For Washington Sycip Park, there was none. Where is the music coming from then? Is this magic of some sorts? No. I used my ears and followed where the music was coming from. The speaker was actually disguised as a rock in order to keep the surroundings as natural as you can. Near the rock-disguised speakers, I saw this turtle hard as stone. Good sculpture of a turtle to say nevertheless.
Tired from walking around all over Makati, I stopped by this gazebo and sat down. The gazebo has a comfty bench and a table for those who have brought coffee with them. The lights inside are lovely with an ingeniously crafted native chandelier hanging above. I wrote down my thoughts, dreams and prayers as I enjoy breathing fresh and savor the moment being up close with my Creator and his creation. I looked around still in disbelief that there is a park such as this in the middle of an urban jungle. Looking around once more, I noticed that there was another gazebo right across the pond.
The pond has a spectacular view with spouting water to give an accent to the view. I noticed though that the water was grayish green, indicating the existence of too much moss and the fishes are congregation by the spouts to catch oxygen. Ayala Center must look into cleaning the pond up one of these days but it did not spoil the view either. No tall buildings seen here since the canopy of tress covered much of the outside view. It is like being in a paradise of some sorts. The foliage is thick indicating healthy growth. I just hope that Ayala Center would never think of converting this park into a concrete tower. Having my fill of this gazebo, I decided to check out the other one to find out what it has for me.
The other has a simple platform of some sorts, this gazebo houses a marble sungka set, a past time which in itself is a form of mental exercise. Before computer games or PSP’s were the norms, I and my younger brother would play this game at home. I remember having a wooden sungka set with shells. Of course, this would not have shells but simple stones since shells would definitely get stolen here. Reminds me much of my happy childhood memories and how life was simple when I was young. I guess the current generation of kids would not even have an idea of how this is played. All these you can enjoy with your family playing sungka while being relaxed by a steady flow of water which relaxes the senses.
Too good to be true? It still is but if you want to unwind a bit after work, this is a good place to go to. While pollutions from EDSA pound our lungs so hard, you can refresh here and it is for free. Washington Sycip Park is not far from the Metropolis like other destinations like Rizal Park or La Mesa Park for that matter. For a nature lover like me who loves to have some time alone, this is something I am thankful to the Ayala Center Management for keeping and to God for making this possible. If I have a chance, I’d love to live near this place. My hope is that other financial centers in the country would also employ parks like this in order to take care of the well-being of their residents and tenants.