Arroceros Forest Park - Atlas Obscura

Arroceros Forest Park

Known as Manila's "last lung," this park used to house a market, garrison, and various government buildings. 


Dubbed as the last lung of Manila, the 5.4-acre Arroceros Forest Park had long been a battleground between the city government and pro-environment organizations before becoming a modern oasis today. 

During Spanish colonial rule, the park area was part of the parián or market of Manila. Later in the 19th century, a tobacco factory, known as Fabrica de Arroceros, occupied the site. During the Philippine Revolution in 1896, the park area became a contested battleground zone. Philippine and U.S. forces controlled everywhere in the city except for the small Intramuros, a centuries-old historic district in the city and Spain’s last hold-out.

In 1898, the United States purchased the Philippine archipelago for $20 million from Spain. During U.S. control of the archipelago, a military garrison was set up on the park site. When the Philippines finally secured independence from the United States in 1946, the garrison was repurposed into the Department of Education’s headquarters.

When the Department of Education moved elsewhere, the site’s first park was instated in 1993. Manila government officials developed the park with the help of a private environmental group, the Winner Foundation.

Along with 150 century-old trees that survived World War II, the park now hosts over 3,000 trees, an effort lead by the Manila Seedling Bank.

In 2003, the park was embroiled in another controversy that threatened its existence when then-mayor Lito Atienza wanted to construct a school administration building and teachers’ dormitory on a portion of the park despite protests from conservation groups. The groups claimed that of the 8,000 trees in the park in the year 200, only 2,000 trees remained after the buildings were completed in 2007.

In 2020, then-mayor Francisco Domagoso signed an ordinance declaring the area a permanent forest park. On February 4, 2022, the park re-opened after 5 months of rehabilitation. 

Know Before You Go

The park is easily accessible from the Central Terminal of the LRT 1 line (metropolitan train line). It is less than a five-minute walk from Manila City Hall.

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