From the outside, the park looks very quiet. The untrimmed bougainvilleas and trees along the fence hide what lies within. I passed by this park several times during frequent visits to friends, who live a stone’s throw away from where it is situated. When I changed work location, I always see it every day and night that I commute to and from the office. I have always liked parks and gardens because they bring back memories of my childhood in the rural community. Recently, I had the chance to explore this park in search of a new venue for running.
When I stepped into the grounds of Makati Park and Garden, I was overwhelmed by the surrounding quietness. Its ambiance contrasted with the busyness and mixture of sounds produced by the traffic along J.P. Rizal Extension and the students engaging in after-class conversations outside the University of Makati. You can hear the rush of water in the fountain and the rustle of leaves on grasses trampled underfoot.
Walking around the park feels so relaxing. There is a variety of green and healthy trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants everywhere that make the air fresh and cool. Turning right from the entrance, there is a lagoon that bubbles with greenish water; it also has a floating octagonal gazebo and waterfalls flowing down from a man-made formation of rocks. Not so far from the lagoon, there is an amphitheater that has not been used (for the billboard is empty of events) and maintained for quite a long time. The surface is smudgy and soiled by the growth of moss. Nevertheless, this still makes a good facility for stairs running that can strengthen the lower limbs.
Tracking the winding promenade pathways will make you complete at least one kilometer. At the western side of the park, there are trellised sheds with seats where you can rest in between intervals of your running or walking. You will also see four aviaries, the largest of which houses a solitary eagle. There are lights at night and you can rely on the presence of guards for security.
The park is quite old but on-going efforts to improve it is visible. It sits on an area that stretches at the bank of the Pasig River. Wired fence separates the park from the river, although the barrier no longer looks strong because of its inclination toward the river, while the part near the amphitheater have totally collapsed, perhaps after the recent typhoon. The river below is creamy brown because the rains have washed away the pollutants that make the water black and odorous during summer. I see that drives to bring the river back to life are slowly gaining success with the appearance of water lilies and birds hovering on the surface.
My favorite spot was a large rock that I sit on while watching the river. I often wonder how the river is like when this park and industrial establishments beside it are not in existent. It must have been a better sight to look at. At nightfall, I hear voices singing my favorite songs of the eighties in a videoke from the community across.
There are very few runners in this area, mostly running in solos. I think people prefer to run in the nearby Bonifacio Global City, where they find the environment more interesting, and that makes this park forsaken. I have experienced running here both in the morning and evening, and the social atmosphere has not changed.
I felt the loneliness of the park. If you are an introverted runner, you will most likely appreciate this place. You can focus your eyes on the road, feel your breathing, and listen to the sound of your soles striking on the ground. Here, you can escape from the daily hassles and conflicts of city life, and appreciate the colors, movements, and shades of biotic elements whose roles are important in maintaining the order of nature.
Makati Park and Garden is located at J. P. Rizal Extension, West Rembo, Makati City. The park opens everyday as early as 4:00AM and closes at 8:45PM.