Heritage Sites

Paco Park: A 'Cinematic' Location to Visit in Manila

Metro Manila

Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Mar 28, 2016

In the last month, the teleserye Dolce Amore has intertwined Philippine travel with the budding romance between Serena Marchesa (Liza Soberano) and Simon Vicente Ibarra (Enrique Gil). Through the eyes of Italian princess Sese, we've seen the Pantheon-like Manila Post Office and the Basilica of San Sebastian, a church made of steel. Tenten has also brought her (and us) to the crowded Divisoria, the streets of Tondo, and the hills of Tagaytay. The two also tagged us along in their trip to the beautiful island of Bohol.

Serena brings Giancarlo to Paco Park
(Screencap from ABS-CBN Entertainment)

One of the often shot locations in the teleserye, however, is the non-descript but equally amazing Paco Park. Young Simon described it as Manila's "magical fountain in a cemetery" when he wrote to young Serena during their exchange of letters. When the Italian princess arrived in Manila as a grown-up, she immediately checked out the fountain herself. Days later, Tenten brought her again to the park. Now that Giancarlo de Luca (Matteo Guidicelli) is in the Philippines, Serena will most probably bring him to the historic site.

Serena brings Giancarlo to Paco Park
(Screencap from ABS-CBN Entertainment)

Paco Park is a recreational garden that used to be a municipal cemetery built by the Dominicans. It is situated in the western boundary of the district of Pacao and in the eastern end of Padre Faura Street.

Opened to public in 1822, it was intended as a burial ground for the victims of the cholera pandemic that swept across Asia in 1817 to 1824. It later served as the resting place for the affluent and artistocratic Spanish families who reside in old Manila or within the walls of Intramuros.

Four Filipino heroes were also buried in the cemetery. The martryed priests Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (Gomburza) were laid to rest on its grounds after their execution on February 17, 1872. Jose Rizal was secretly buried in Paco Park after his execution on December 30, 1896. He was buried in an unmarked grave to prevent Filipino revolutionaries from using the site as a rallying point. After days of searching, Rizal's eldest sister Narcisa found his remains and had a marble slab inscribed with "RPJ" placed on the anonymous grave. On August 17, 1898, the body—without a coffin and still in a black suit--was exhumed. The remains were placed in an ivory urn inside Narcisa's Binondo home until it was interred in Luneta on December 30, 1912. 

Rizal's original resting place
(Photo by Shubert Cencia, CC License from Flickr) 

Interment at Paco Park ceased in 1912 and descendants of those buried in the park exhumed and transferred the remains of their ancestors to other cemeteries.

The Second World War turned the park into an ammunition depot and defense grounds. The Japanese durg trenches and pill boxes within the Park prior to the liberation of Manila in 1945. The former cemetery and former fortification was converted into the present-day national park in 1966 during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal.?

(Photo by Phil Ejercito, CC License from Flickr) 

With its circular shape and interesting forts and walls, Paco Park has now become a popular venue for weddings and receptions. 


Travel the Philippines with Dolce Amore:
1) 5 Philippine Destinations That'll Make an Italian Princess Think of Home

2) Dolce in Your Mouth: 5 Sweetest Spots in the Philippines

3) Dolce Amore's Sweet Escape in the Land of the Chocolate Hills
(Photo from Seasidebohol.com)
4) 5 Philippine Spots Where to Wish Upon a Firefly

5) Experience Italy's Solemn & Marvelous Churches in Philippines' Busiest Business Center


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