Paco Park and Cemetery: Of Romance and History

 

It was late 2015 when my cousin and I planned to visit parks and museums around Metro Manila and nearby provinces. To kick off our long list, we first went to Paco Park and Cemetery last January 2016. And I say, we were off to a great start.

About the Park

With its quiet and intimate atmosphere topped with the regal look of St.Pancratius Chapel, Paco Park and Cemetery is undoubtedly an ideal venue for garden weddings and receptions. But before the park became as celebrated and public as it is in the present, it yielded a long history that dates back to 1800s.

The park in the center of the city of Manila was built to give home to the deceased cholera patients, then eventually turned into funerary grounds for Spanish aristocrats in the city.

“But aside from the Spanish aristocrats buried in the cemetery, it was also a resting ground of four Filipino National Heroes. The martyred priests Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora were buried on its ground after their executions, February 17, 1872. Meanwhile, our foremost National Hero Jose Rizal was secretly buried here after his execution on the early morning of December 30, 1896, where it was dug up and kept by the family in an urn in August 17, 1898 and later on enshrined in Luneta, December 30, 1912.” (Lakwatsero.com)

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Niches on the wall

By 1912, after almost a century after its opening, the interment at the park was stopped. However, as World War II reached the country, the Japanese army took advantage of the park’s architectural structure for defense and ammunition storage.

After serving as a resting place and army station, the municipal cemetery was finally restored and reopened as a national park in 1966.In Marcos regime, the park was later on put under the care of National Park’s Development Committee (NPDC).

Our Experience

Who wants to say their vows in a cemetery – at least a former one? I bet not too many. Well, that’s fair. I was thinking the same thing too until I saw the subtle beauty of Paco Park and Cemetery in an actual wedding ceremony.

That’s right! We were lucky to witness a wonderful moment. It was pure magic (Or I am just too romantic). The chapel was decorated with bouquets of white flowers, and the garden in front of it served as the reception area where a stage adorned by the couple’s memorabilia was set up. We had an ample time to wander around the place as the ceremony was still on going inside the chapel upon our arrival. Later on, we strolled to the other parts of the park to prevent looking as if we’re gatecrashers – although we still enjoyed the acoustic live music.

To see the place set for nuptial rite is beautiful, however, I must say that even without the ceremony that day, Paco Park and Cemetery is a marvel on its own especially when you stayed just before the sunset. You’ll see the trees, and the old chapel touched by almost golden ray of light.

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St. Pancratius Chapel during sunset

As we crossed Paco Park and Cemetery off our list, we were able to visit other places. But, so far, none has beat the intimacy and eerie feeling that the old cemetery introduced us.

It costed us only P10.00 for the entrance, and that amounted to a magnificent taste of romance and history. So if you’re looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of the city without travelling far and spending too much, visit the park. It’s open everyday.

References:  http://www.lakwatsero.com/spots/paco-park-and-cemetery/

http://www.nationalparks.ph/

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Hi! Thanks for spending some time reading this post. And if you’ve got a few minutes more, you can see more photos of this trip in my portfolio. 🙂

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