IN PHOTOS: An afternoon stroll inside Arroceros Forest Park

Janella Paris
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in July that he wants to expand the forest park, also called the last lung of Manila

MANILA'S LAST LUNG. Arroceros Forest Parks is one of the few green spaces in the busy capital of Manila. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A 2.2-hectare patch of green land located in Antonio Villegas Street in the central district of Ermita, the Arroceros Forest Park is known as Manila’s last lung. Inside, it provides a home to over 3,000 trees of 61 varieties, 8,000 ornamental plants, stray animals, and even abandoned vehicles. Outside, along its walls, some of Manila’s homeless sleep. 

Advocates have been fighting for the preservation of the park for years. It had been under threat after the administration of then-Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada outlined a plan to build a gymnasium inside. The plan angered not only Manileños but also envrionment advocates from outside the capital city. A 96,000-signature Change.org online petition called on the city to stop the plan.

New Mayor Isko Moreno has given advocates a reason to hope. 

Shortly after his election, he said he would not allow the construction of a gymnasium inside. He even said he aimed for the construction of a “Manila civic center” that would incorporate the park into a bigger green space that would help bikers and pedestrians move comfortably from Rizal Park to Escolta. 

Advocates for the park’s preservation – groups like the Winner Foundation and the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society –  have welcomed Moreno’s plans. They are part of what is collectively called the Save Arroceros Movement.

Here are photos of the park taken by Rappler’s photo chief, LeAnne Jazul during a Saturday stroll:

 

WELCOME TO ARROCEROS. The 2.2 hectare Arroceros Forest Park located at Antonio Villegas Street in Ermita, Manila. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

CARETAKER. Tony Magno, the park caretaker for 16 years. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

LEISURE. Children spend their Saturday in the park. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

SIGNS OF LIFE. Kittens found inside the Arroceros Forest Park, which is administered by the City Government of Manila in partnership with private environmental group, Winner Foundation. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

A HABITAT FOR SPECIES. The urban forest hosts 61 different tree varieties and 8,000 ornamental plants providing a habitat for 16 different bird species. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

GREEN SHRINE. The 2.2 hectare Arroceros Forest Park is known as Manila's last lung. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

SMOKING SPACE. A designated smoking area within the park's premises. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

PARKING. Unusable goverment vehicles parked inside the Arroceros Forest Park. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

FROM THE OUTSIDE. The Arroceros Forest Park as seen from the Pasig River. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

HOME FOR THE HOMELESS. Outside Arroceros Forest Park is home to some of Manila's homeless. Phoo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

– Rappler.com