10 Underrated Parks and Green Spaces in the Metro Manila
There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air—something that, admittedly, is pretty rare in the Metro. Between the daily commute and hours spent in air-conditioned offices, most people barely get time out in the sun. Plus, green spaces are getting more and more scarce in the National Capital Region, with barely 21 percent of the entire area accounting for greenery. So in case you want to relax and breathe deep or you’re simply looking for some adventure, we rounded up a couple of green pockets in the Metro for you to check out.
Here are 10 green spaces in the Metro if you need a quick break:
Arroceros Forest Park (Ermita, Manila)
The "last lung of Manila" has had a precarious position in the past few years, so it needs all the attention it can get. The 2.2-hectare park is a green oasis in the midst of a busy city. It is home to centuries-old trees, as well as 10 bird species, 8,000 plants, and 60 indigenous tree varieties—all thriving smack dab in the middle of Manila.
Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (Parañaque)
Barely a few kilometers away from the busy streets of Pasay City is the nature sanctuary of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA). The reserve consists of two islands—Freedom Island and Long Island—that make up 175 hectares of protected wetlands. Since 41 species of migratory birds from places like China, Japan, and Siberia make the islands their temporary home, the area was proclaimed a critical habitat in 2007, the first of its kind in the Philippines.
If you’re interested in taking a breather and going on a birdwatching adventure, contact the Conservation and Development Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at 435-2509.
Paco Park (Paco, Manila)
Another green pocket in Manila is the historic Paco Park. If you’ve only ever been here for a wedding, then you should check out what else the area has to offer. Originally a cemetery built for the Spanish elite in 1807, it is the resting place for many dominant figures. Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, three Filipino priests known collectively as Gomburza, were buried in an unmarked grave here. Also, Jose Rizal was first interred in this cemetery by the Spanish government before his family was able to move his remains to his final resting place.
Washington Sycip Park (Legazpi Village, Makati)
If you’re looking for a quiet place for contemplation in the middle of busy Makati City, then the Washington Sycip Park is exactly that. Created in 2006 in honor of business magnate Washington Sycip, it recently went under renovation in 2017, along with adjacent green pocket Legazpi Active Park. Now, the park is home to several sculptures by Impy Pilapil, an amphitheater, several pavilions, a pond, and a Crane and Turtle Garden.
Rainforest Adventure Experience (Maybunga, Pasig)
For something more on the adventurous side, check out the Rainforest Adventure Experience (a.k.a RAVE) in Pasig. A mix of an amusement park and green spaces, they’ve got pretty much everything: including a zoo, flower park, camping area, botanical garden, and more. There’s no entrance fee to the park itself, but the different attractions will cost you anything from P20 to P200. Plus, Pasigueños get discounted rates!
Ortigas Park (Ortigas, Pasig)
This park may just be a small green spot in the business district of Ortigas, but it offers a perfect getaway from the daily grind. Tucked away along F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Park features a pristinely kept lawn, a fountain, and a nearby café: the perfect mix for some quiet time. This small resting area is in keeping with the Ortigas District’s push for a more livable area.
Track 30th (Bonifacio Global City)
If you’re looking to get in some running but can’t concentrate in a gym, then Track 30th is the place to go. This tiny park—alongside Track 28th and Turf BGC—offer some breathing space. More than just a running track though, Track 30th has a yoga and exercise lawn, several interactive and non-interactive art installations (just be smart about what you play with!), and a meditation garden.
La Mesa Ecopark (Novaliches, Quezon City)
This 33-hectare park is part of the La Mesa Dam, Metro Manila’s chief water reservoir, and yup, it’s still part of Quezon City! For P50, you can check out the entire area: maybe have a picnic, take a walk, go birdwatching and whatnot. La Mesa Ecopark also has a public swimming pool where you can take a dip for P80; rent a fishing rod and try to catch fish for P30; and, you can even rent a bike for P60.
Marikina River Park (Sto. Niño, Marikina City)
This park actually covers a long stretch of the Marikina River, where you can walk, bike, or have a picnic, among many other things. Alternatively, you could just sit down, relax, and watch the river run past. Head to the nearby Riverbanks Center, where there’s a small theme park and a bazaar.
University of the Philippines Diliman Campus (Diliman, Quezon City)
This sprawling, tree-filled university transforms into a green haven during the weekends. Most of the campus’ 2.2-kilometer-long main road, a.k.a. the oval and part of the University Avenue, is closed off to traffic to allow for bikers, joggers, Instagram posers, and whoever else to use for their activities. On other days, you can also join a group and go bird-watching, or simply have a chill moment on one of the campus’ many fields.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.