10 Manila Parks to Visit (2014 Edition)

Time to revisit a few historic spots and some new patches of green around the city


(SPOT.ph) For a megacity just shy of 12 million souls, Metro Manila barely has room to breathe. Most of us would be hard pressed to find wide-open green spaces in which to spend an afternoon. Malls, with their climate-controlled environments as well as the never-ceasing stimuli, have become the alternative preferred by most Manileños. But there are times when one just wants to have the blue sky over his head, the wind in his face, and green grass under his feet.


We revisit our 10 favorite parks in Metro Manila in hopes of inspiring city folks to rediscover their green spaces, and that we’ll all be reminded of how beautiful these pockets of nature could be.


NOTE: Parks give discounted rates to students. When visiting, do not forget to bring your school ID.


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A Walk in the Park: 10 Manila Parks to Visit




1. Rizal Park

Address: Roxas Boulevard, Manila

Entrance fee: Free for most areas except for the Chinese Garden (P10), Japanese Garden (P10), Orchidarium (P50), and The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal Lights and Sounds Show (P40)

Best for: Dates, family bonding, educational trips


The grandma of all parks in the metropolis, Rizal Park a.k.a. Luneta has undergone a serious facelift. The National Park boasts of new landscaping, upgraded hardware, and unhindered access to most of its green spaces. Gone are the fences that might have kept wanderers off the grass but also, in effect, shut everyone else out, too. The favorite spots are still there such as the Chinese and Japanese Gardens-both of which seem to be undergoing an identity crisis with its flora, as well as the Chess Plaza and the relief map of the Philippines at its Taft Avenue end. To complete your patriotic tour, go ahead and sit through The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal Lights and Sounds Show, right on the very spot where our national hero was executed.


A favored execution site during the Spanish era (Jose Rizal and Priests Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora were martyred on site), there is much talk about the park these days with the rise of a residential condominium behind Rizal's statue.


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2. Paco Park

Address: San Marcelino and General Luna Streets, Paco, Manila

Entrance fee: P10

Best for: Dates, weddings, educational trips


Step inside the high walls of Paco Park and it’s easy to understand why it's a favorite wedding venue in Manila. An old chapel, weathered stones, classic architectural details, as well as centuries-old trees make up an ideal romantic setting. It's certainly a far cry from its former life as a cemetery for people living within the walled city of Intramuros in Spanish colonial times. In fact, GomBurZa, the three famous martyr priests and our national hero Jose Rizal, were first interned in this park. Don't worry, the remains have been moved elsewhere, as proven by the blank niches on the walls.



3. Fort Santiago

Address: Intramuros, Manila

Entrance fee: P75

Best for: Dates, weddings, educational trips


The former military fort of the colonial Spanish government is now a favorite stop for anyone who'd like a history lesson on Manila and Jose Rizal. On the grounds are dungeons, ruins, and the Rizal Shrine where our national hero wrote his famous poem Mi Ultimo Adios.



The patch of green right before the moat is actually called Plaza Moriones. It features a rather grand fountain and lovely flora, as well as a few benches to rest on. To get a more experiential perspective, go on the walking tour given by the famous guide and artist Carlos Celdran. Catch one of his sudden barter tours that only costs P400 (for the basic fees) and a token-a nice pen, a good book, or a bottle of wine.



4. Quezon Memorial Circle

Address: Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City

Entrance fee: Free

Parking fee: P15

Best for: Dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends, educational trips


This roundabout of a park located in one of the busiest roads in Quezon City is very popular among the locals. Divided into many parts-recreational areas, gardening shops, and restaurants-this elliptical-shaped space has something to offer each member of the family. The centerpiece is a 66-meter monument dedicated to the late Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. His remains lie within the elegant white art deco monument, a fitting memorial to the man after whom the city was named.




5. La Mesa Ecopark

Address: La Mesa Dam Compound, Greater Lagro, Quezon City

Entrance fee: P50

Best for: Dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


Tucked behind gated communities is this oasis of calm in the bustling Commonwealth area of Quezon City. The drive up to the park gives a sense of retreat as houses give way to tall trees that block out the sun and cause the temperature to drop. The park is divided into several pavilions and boasts of an amphitheatre, a swimming pool complex, bike trails, a zip line, and a reverse bungee ride. And while the lush greenery is enough of a draw, a glimpse of the mesmerizing La Mesa Dam is the highlight of any visit.





6. Capitol Commons Park

Address: Meralco Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Entrance fee: Free

Best for: Dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


The former Rizal Capitol is on its way to becoming an upscale property development complete with leisure spaces along its main artery. But even with the planned skyscrapers just about to rise, it's still quite the ideal calm spot that offer impressive views of the Ortigas Business District. With several restaurants now open, it's a lovely date place where one can have a nice meal or a picnic, then have a leisurely walk or spend more time alfresco on one of the benches.



7. Legazpi Active Park

Address: Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City

Entrance fee: Free

Best for: Exercise, dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


As the name suggests, this patch of green in Legazpi Village encourages the city dweller to get off his bum and get moving. The undulating path can give any runner a good workout, while the colorful jungle gym can offer countless hours of fun for kids. Anyone who simply wants to take a breather from the heat are welcome to rest under the shade of its many trees, but note that canines aren't allowed into the park.




8. Washington Sycip Park

Address: Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City

Entrance fee: Free

Best for: Dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


Across the Legazpi Active Park is this private space that is open to the public. You can sit on the lovely benches stamped with words of wisdom from the great accountant himself, enjoy quiet conversations at a gazebo, or while away the hours staring at the pond. But abide by the rules: There's strictly no photo-taking or video recording in this park or the guard on duty will be on your case.




9. Ayala Triangle Gardens

Address: Makati Central Business District, Makati City

Entrance fee: Free

Best for: Exercise, dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


Dubbed as the Central Park of the metro, the site of the former Nielson Airport has now become a favorite of urbanites. Basically the backyard of Ayala Tower One, it affords people working in the central business district an apt piece of land that serves as a community hub where they can do their daily runs, push babies in strollers, as well eat their meals either on well-manicured lawns or inside one of the restaurants on the grounds. The Nielson Tower (the airport's former passenger terminal) has recently been converted into a posh restaurant where even the most discriminating diners would be undoubtedly pleased.





10. Terra 28 and Track 30th

Address: Bonifacio Global City

Entrance fee: Free

Best for: Exercise, dates, family bonding, hanging out with friends


Flanking the shopping and entertainment hub that is Bonifacio High Street are these two green strips, both of which encourage the stereotypical urban dwellers to get out of their sky houses as well as off their bums. Terra 28 is a family-themed park where parents can teach their kids traditional street games like patintero and piko. There's also rubber flooring for designated play areas like the monkey bars. All in all, it's one park that was made for the kids. On the other hand, Track 30th encourages runners of all ages to work those leg muscles and break into a sweat.

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