Screenshot from Inquirer.net
I could not let this pass, because, I, for one, know that anyone and everyone could snap a photo or photos at the Rizal Park and the Intramuros, without being hassled by anyone saying that it is not permitted to do so. If you even ask for permission, they could even assist your shoot. Case in point, I assisted Metro Magazine and Ms. Shamcey Supsup when they used the Department of Tourism facade for their November 2011 cover shot, and they did not even pay a single centavo for the shot, because it is for free!
I immediately wrote to some DOT Officials, including National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) Director Jett Villegas, alerting them about the article. Over the weekend, Director Villegas replied to me through e-mail saying:
Please help inform all persons and groups inquiring that the allegations that it is prohibited to shoot photos in Rizal Park is a blatant lie. I ask your help to spread the news that we allow all interested individuals and groups and anyone interested to photograph the park. Those intending to use the park for personal souvenir and take photos for personal use and school projects are free to do so for after all it is a public park. What we are asking only from those interested to use the park as a venue for commercial ads and for video infomercial, events such as prenuptial, and other events is for them to get permit. Reason for permit is to ensure that the use of the national monument is within the bounds of historic and cultural protocol as per the guidance of the National Historical Commission. We do get expert guidance from them on these matters.
As to the other sites of the park, we need to give permit for commercials shoots so that we can review the story board because we want the park to be projected as pleasant public park for leisure and recreation and historic educational experience and not to use it as scene for commercial, movie or photos that are showing violations against persons, property, abuses and human rights violation particularly among women and children.
Please pass the information to available media to hear our side. I think, it was wise for the group complaining if they did get our side of the story because we are certain that we can show them proofs that anybody can walk in the park and take their photos. If they did so ask our side, they will perhaps appreciate our policy that we want all park visitors to take photos of themselves and at any part of the park that interest them, this is for free to them and all our free additions to the new Rizal park. The peoples park is now looking very good after it did rehabilitation work since last year, and we promise to make it better under now the guidance of Sec. Mon Jimenez. He gave us the marching orders to make excellent things to happen in Rizal Park soonest.
Please extend your assistance to pass on the news that the public is invited to have their photo shoot anytime in Rizal Park.
The allegations that the Rizal Park, and any other National Park in the Philippines (to set the record straight), would disallow Filipinos, its visitors and tourists to take photos of themselves and their company in the park, are plain absurd, and, to me, a move to discredit and malign the Department of Tourism and the National Parks Development Committee for whatever personal selfish reasons they may have.
You know what, even the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, both stated in the article by Mr. Mel Cortez (a wedding photographer, if you try to Google him), have stringent guidelines for filming and image shots, and require "fair rate for each operations," according to the official website of the Eiffel Tower, and in the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
These are more photos I gathered from the NPDC and from Dir. Villegas, which proves that anyone can shoot at the Rizal Park, even for product shots. These photos by the Samahan ng mga Litratista sa Rizal - Federation of Philippine Photographer Foundation, Inc. promoting Coleman lamps. They asked for permission to take these shots, and they were granted without having to pay anything. Aren't these photos really nice? :)
To set the record straight: Come visit the Philippines! Come visit Luneta, Rizal Park. Come visit Manila, and the Intramuros. Take shots. Take memories that will last. Take lots of them. Snap away. Because it is free. Because we love our beautiful country. Pilipinas, tara na! ;)
Please spread this good news! :)
P.S. The opinions herein are solely mine, and not representative of the DOT or its officials.
EDIT (11/14/11, 3:20PM): I only saw this video, which was shared to me by a colleague. More questions than answers arise, and based on the video itself, the NPDC has every right to disallow them to proceed with their actions, because they are staging a preconceived permit-less protest (hello banner and shirts), which may be offensive and disrespectful to the place or may be in violation with the protocols of the National Historical Commission.
EDIT (11/15/11, 4:00PM): The National Parks and the Intramuros Administration have released a joint statement on the issue. Also, there's a Press Release from the Department of Tourism just now.