Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian has led the inauguration of Polo Park, formerly the Old Town Square of Polo (Liwasang Rizal), which adds to the list of more open, greener spaces in the city.
The inauguration on Jan. 21 comes five months after the mayor’s announcement of the rehabilitation of Polo Park during local hero Dr. Pio Valenzuela’s 150th birth anniversary last July 11, 2019.
Polo Park, Valenzuela City’s newest landmark, forms part of the city’s history, enhanced with a fresh, green landscape to top off its new look.
Adorned with luscious trees providing shade and breathable space, a fountain, a memorial marker commemorating war veterans and a statues of Dr. Valenzuela and national hero Dr. Jose Rizal made by esteemed artist Julie Lluch, Polo Park’s new features perfectly signifies not only a place for relaxation but marks the historical identity of Valenzuela City.
Likewise, in the park is the rehabilitated Rizal Monument, with Dr. Jose Rizal seemingly inviting visitors, a welcoming gesture to the park that has been part of every local’s childhood throughout the years.
The P21-million project funded and supported by the Department of Budget and Management through the “Green, Green, Green” Program is the first in a series of restoration and conservation projects in Valenzuela, specifically revitalizing the Polo area and creating sustainable public open spaces in the city.
Visitors can sit and enjoy the scenery as the park now has more benches and provides Wi-Fi access for added convenience.
Making Polo Park stand out more are the untouched, growing trees surrounding the park, providing not only shade but cooler, fresher air. According to studies, even a single tree can have a profound cooling effect in cities through the process of evapotranspiration—where leaves release water into the air.
Trees can also reduce a person’s physiologically equivalent temperature by 7-15 degrees Celsius, making the usual, 32-degrees day out at Polo Park cooler amid the hot summer sun.
Surrounded by rivers and swamps making Polo as a center of trade, Polo Park “shall also be a symbol of the city’s history and culture, witnessing the prosperity of Valenzuela City known today,” Gatchalian said.
The project is one of the many initiatives of the City Government of Valenzuela to create greener spaces and to revitalize the City’s quality of urban living.
Before Polo Park, the City has opened parks for urban renewal since 2015. Valenzuela City People’s Park, which was opened last February 14, 2015, has been one of the top visited places famous for concerts, plays and holiday activities.
The 1.3-hectare lot beside the City Hall is known as a family-oriented place equipped with CCTVs and has an interactive dancing fountain with lights, exercise area, a pavilion, life-size chessboard, picnic tables, children’s area, playground, Aero Circle, zoological spaces and an amphitheater that can house up to 2,000 persons.
The city also ventured into a public-private partnership (PPP) establishing the Valenzuela Town Center just adjacent to the park, providing options for food choices, event gatherings, and the like.
On Feb. 17, 2019, the city opened its first Family Park located at Barangay Karuhatan, a main convergence area in Valenzuela known for its accessibility.
The 1.1-hectare land, a portion which was owned by Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) granted to Valenzuela City for beneficial use, preserves century-old trees along with a playground, an interactive fountain, aviary, a food park, and an amphitheater.
With the projects slated to preserve heritage sites and provide for more parks in the City, Valenzuela City shall also continue to receive more accolades in improving its livability index, having placed 2nd at the Livable Cities Design Challenge in 2014 for its Comprehensive Disaster Preparedness Plan.
Valenzuela also bagged 2nd Place having the Cleanest Air in South East Asia in 2018 by IQ AirVisual Switzerland and Greenpeace International. Numbeo also ranked the City to be the 2nd Safest in South East Asia in the same year.
With the goals to create more sustainable parks, improve on landscaping and to provide for more eco-friendly street fixtures and shading, Polo Park’s inauguration is only one of the projects to watch out for as the City nears its 400th Foundation Anniversary in 2023.
Restoration and conservation efforts of the Arkong Bato, Dr. Pio Valenzuela’s Residence and the Church of San Diego de Alcala’s near to 400-year old belfry is also under way.