Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rediscovering Manila: Paco Park

       More than 2 kilometers away from the famous Luneta Park in Manila, there's a park in Paco, Manila that may be underrated but is worth a visit. The name is Paco Park, a quaint, 44,291.3 sq ft recreational garden and was once Manila’s municipal cemetery built by the Dominicans during the Spanish colonial period. It is located on General Luna St. and at the east end of Padre Faura Street in Paco, Manila, Philippines.

Main Entrance

         With those moss-covered walls that can be dated back in 1822, this park is similar to Intramuros. It is circular in shape. The area is so tranquil, perfect if you want a break away from the hustle of the city. According to an on-site inscription, an order for the construction of a cemetery in Bagumbayan was issued in 1807, due to the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in Manila. Maestro de Obras Don Nicolas Ruiz developed a plan for the Paco Cemetery, while Don Jose Coll served as supervisor of the construction work.

        In 1859, Governor Fernando de Norzagaray proposed the extension of the cemetery to approximately 4,500 square yards, enclosing the original plan with another circular outer wall.
St. Pancratius Chapel
        This dome and oval chapel had an altar that was originally white and gold. On each side of the altar are the repositories for the remains of governors and bishops.

Elevated walkway
       There's an elevated walkway around the park so you can have a better view. You can walk around the whole park in this walkway in few minutes.

       At the back of the chapel, there's a  cemetery for the stillborn. The park was primarily designed as a municipal cemetery for the affluent and established aristocratic Spanish families who resided in the old Manila, or the city within the walls of Intramuros during the Spanish colonial era. It was on April 22, 1822 when the cemetery was officially inaugurated, although it had been in use for two years prior to its completion.

       Then I found this marker that has an inscription which reads:

If these acacia trees (Samanea saman) could only talk,
they could tell how some grave diggers secretly buried
on this hallowed spot the body of Dr. Jose P. Rizal
after his execution on the early morning of
December 30, 1896 at Bagumbayan.

His remains were dug up August 17, 1898 and kept
by the family in an urn, and finally
enshrined December 30, 1912 on the
spot in Luneta over which now stands
the monument erected in his honor.

       This is one of the greatest discovery of my whole life. I didn't know any of these. It's amazing that this park is not just a place to unwind, but a place to learn too.

Mute witness
       This is one of the several century-old acacia trees in the park. They are mute witnesses to our history. If only they can talk, we really can learn a lot of things from it about what exactly happen in this place a hundred years ago.

The mortal remains of the three martyred priests,
Father's Jose A. Burgos, Mariano C. Gomes, and Jacinto R. Zamora,
were buried in this hallowed ground after their
execution on 17 February 1872 for complicity in
the Cavite mutiny.

The marker was unveiled by his excellency
Fidel V. Ramos, President, Republic
of the Philippines, February 17, 1998
on the occasion of the martyrdom of
the three priests.

       Another discovery for me! I've learned a lot of things in this park. Entrance fee to the park is PHP10 and they are open daily from 7:00AM-5:00PM. The park is  favorite spot for photoshoots and weddings.

How to get there?

       The nearest LRT1 station is the UN Avenue station. From there, take the General Luna St. straight ahead, the park is few minutes walk or you can take a tricycle and ask the driver to drop you off at Paco Park. (I walked so I don't know the fare)

       By jeepney, whether you're from south or north of Taft Avenue, ride a jeepney going to the opposite direction and drop off at Padre Faura St (landmark is Supreme Court). Paco Park is few minutes walk from there. And again, you can always take a cab if its more convenient for you.

       If you're into history, then this place is for you. And if you're just looking for a serene place to relax and unwind, you can try to explore what this park can offer. It is one of Manila's gem. Paco Park is aesthetically, culturally and historically significant. -Jon-

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