Tag Archives: Manila parks

#338 Arroceros Forest Park

The Arroceros Forest Park is located near the MacArthur Bridge, next to the Manila Metropolitan Theater in downtown Manila.

The small park or garden is one of the few ‘green lungs’ in congested Manila and has drawn its share of  controversy when city officials attempted to close the park in preparation for plans to convert the lot for other uses.

Today the Arroceros Forest Park is a oasis of calm in downtown Manila. Although it was given to the City Schools of Manila Division during the term of Mayor Atienza, the park has recently been promised back by mayor-elect Mayor Lim to it’s former caretakers, the Winners Foundation.

 Environmentalists and Cultural Heritage advocates in Manila are delighted that the park can now be opened up to the public and that the foundation can once again continue their efforts to re-green a lot that was once occupied by an office building until the 1980’s.  (From: Various Internet sources)

Long live the Arroceros Forest Park!

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#28 Paco Park

Paco Park is one of the few oases of serenity in the bustle of Manila. The park is actually a municipal  cemetery during the Spanish colonial period, built for the Spanish elite that lived in Intramuros. Although built in the late 1700s it was completed several decades later. The cemetery was later used to inter victims of the cholera epidemic that swept Manila in 1822.

The cemetery, circular in shape, has an inner circular fort that was the original cemetery and contains the burial niches that were placed within the hollow walls. A second outer wall was built with the thick adobe walls, that served as defense for the Japanese army when they used the cemetery as an ammunition depot during World War 2.  The Chapel of San Pancratius is located at the back of the park and mass is celebrated at the Chapel on Sundays. It is a  popular venue for weddings.

Remains of Spanish governors and the elite were laid to rest in the Chapel of San Pancratius. Today, only the remains of Governor-General Ramon Solano are still in the chapel. The Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was also secretly buried in the cemetery after his execution on December 30,1896. His remains were later transferred on August 12, 1912 to the monument in Rizal Park. Paco Park is also the final resting place of Mario Gomez, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora, three Spanish priests that were executed by the Spanish in 1872 for their participation in an uprising against Spain.

The Park has century-old acacia and frangipani trees, a large fountain and well-kept walkways. Since the Marcos administration free cultural concerts are presented every Friday during the summer months. Open and free to the public, these open-air concerts are among the few pleasant freebies for Manila residents and visitors who enjoy the greenery and the sunset while listening to classical music.

Mabuhay ang Paco Park!

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#5 Rizal Park

The Jose Rizal Monument at Rizal Park

A tour of Manila is not complete without a visit to Rizal Park. Named after the country’s national hero Jose Rizal, the park is one of the very few ‘green lungs’ in the congested city of Manila.

Located at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard and overlooking Manila Bay, the park was the site of historical events such as the execution of Rizal in 1896, the official declaration of Philippine independence from US rule in 1946 and in more recent times the favored endpoint of political rallies and propaganda (think of the military and cultural parades organised by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos).

For the average Pinoy this park is a favorite site to hang and laze around and get accosted by orange robe-clad Hare Krishnas, Bible preachers, witness countless family picnics, spy on love birds or ogle at the busloads of Korean and Japanese tourists uttering ‘Jose Rizar’ and pointing their camera flashes  at Rizal’s bronze bust.

Before the era of air-conditioned shopping malls, Rizal Park is the main rendezvous point for Metro Manilans and schoolchildren skipping their classes. There is a Japanese and Chinese gardens in the park, the Quirino Granstand and a central fountain that used to add some magic to the park.

Aside from its historical import, Rizal Park should inspire future city administrators and planners in Metro Manila to build more parks and less commercial edifices and complexes. Metro Manilans certainly don’t need another mega-mall or LRT station.

But at the rate fat and juicy commissions from commercial developers are being doled out to prompt and attract City Hall approval, the inspiration from Rizal Park for more ‘green lungs’ may remain as elusive as the personal dreams of Jose Rizal.

Mabuhay ang Rizal Park!

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