Finally, Manila's Arroceros Forest Park Is Here to Stay

Manila's last lung has officially been declared a "permanent forest park."

(SPOT.ph) After years of uncertainty—and practically being left to rot—the Arroceros Forest Park in Ermita, Manila, is officially here to stay. Manila's "last lung" has been declared a "permanent forest park" through Ordinance No. 8607, as signed by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. So what's at stake here? Well, the 2.2-hectare lot is home to around 150 centuries-old trees, as well as 60 indigenous tree varieties, 8,000 plants, and 10 bird species—plus the dream that someday, your children's children's children (and beyond) will still know what a tree looks like, maybe even climb one.

With the clean-up of Pasig River, Arroceros could easily be the next cool—literally speaking—hangout area.
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jilson tiu / spot.ph archives
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Arroceros is one of the last few green spaces urban folk can enjoy and city animals can call home.
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Jilson tiu / spot.ph archives

The city government will allocate P1 million to operate the area as a permanent forest park, as per the ordinance. Peace officers will also be in charge of making sure tree-cutting, dumping of trash, and any form of excavation within the site does not happen; all of which are finable violations under the ordinance. An Arroceros Forest Park Governing Committee will also be created and tasked to handle logistics.

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"The use and enjoyment of the Arroceros Forest Park must be consistent with the principles of sustainable development and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology," reads the ordinance. It was issued in line with Republic Act No. 5752, a.k.a. the "Local Autonomy Act"  which mandates the creation and maintenance of "a permanent forest, tree parks or watershed within public land" by local governments.

With lots of trees cut down, flooding has become a problem in Arroceros. Just check out this picture from August 2018.
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jilson tiu / spot.ph archives
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A pile of garbage blocks the park's main entrance in August 2018. With the ordinance in place, we've got our fingers crossed this is a thing of the past.
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Jilson Tiu / SPOT.ph Archives

The Arroceros Forest Park has been on rocky ground since it was first established in 1993 under former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and the Winner Foundation. The riverside park has somehow managed to survive the past few decades—despite the constant threat of "development"—and has become one of the last green havens for the folks of Manila and beyond. With this ordinance in place, we've got our fingers crossed that this permanent forest park finally gets the attention and care it, and we Metro folks, deserve.

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Images by Jilson Tiu/SPOT.ph Archives

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