Manila can sometimes become a little too loud and crowded. From the buzzing streets and towering skyscrapers, one can easily get lost in a surrounding so restive and brutal to those who only need time and space for some moments of stillness. But deep within the concrete jungle are green oases where nature, life, and culture thrive in unison to bring peace to those seeking them.
Open or green spaces have long been one of the problems in Metro Manila. If you search for a map that shows green spaces in the National Capital Region, the image will return with a very saddening reality about where we live. Even the greens in one of our favorite places, UP Diliman, is just a minuscule dot in the approximately 62, 000 hectares of total land area.
In case the importance of having sufficient green spaces in each city gets lost somewhere, green spaces mitigate the effects of climate change. Specifically, pollution and the phenomenon called the urban heat island effect (UHI). UHI comprises commercial buildings, residential areas, and industrial sites where people move in relatively small spaces.
Local government units in the region have partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to build more green spaces. Recently, Manila LGU initiated a drive to save the last lung of the city, the Arroceros Forest Park. In 2019, the city of Manila was reported as the city with the least green spaces in the region, accounting for only 12% of its total land area. Meanwhile, La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City remains the biggest green space in Metro Manila.
These are three some of our favorite green spaces you can visit within the Metro:
RAVE PASIG (Pasig City)
From campsites to active parks where visitors can do various activities like boat-riding, wall climbing, and skateboarding, the RAVE PASIG (Rainforest Adventure Experience) is also home to several species of birds and flowers. The park operates from 8:00 am until midnight.
Washington Sycip Park
Makati Central Business District boasts four green spaces within the area alone. One of which is the Washington Sycip Park. Among other options, the park is perhaps the quietest in the city’s busiest district. Want a quick tour? Check out this video.
UP Sunken Garden
Did you ever wonder why the campus entrance has lots of Sunflower? Borrowing from an old joke, should there be a zombie apocalypse, the first place they’ll go to is UP Diliman—because that’s where the brains are. One of the most iconic green landmarks inside the campus is UP Sunken Garden. But the Diliman campus is nothing short of greens if green is what you are looking for. Wherever you go on the campus, there will always be trees and vast green spaces you can go to.
Marikina River Park
Perhaps one of Marikeños’ pride, the Marikina River Park received the Hall of Fame citation from the Department of Interior and Local Government for having the Cleanest Inland Body of Water in the entire National Capital Region.
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center
This 23.85-ha protected land in the heart of Quezon City aims to become an ecotourism destination while conserving biodiversity. The park does not only offer recreational spaces for residents and visitors. It is also home to more than 3,000 trees, including the 13 species of endemic trees like Antipolo, Kamatog, and Katmon.
Arroceros Urban Forest Park
Dubbed as the “Last Lung of Manila,” this 2.71-ha green space boasts more than 8,000 trees and ten species of birds. Despite the controversies that hounded its conservation, the development still maintained the park’s integrity.
Japanese Garden (Ermita)
Located in Rizal Park, this park was created as a token of friendship between Japan and the Philippines. The place would make you feel like you are actually in Japan. Just a tip, however, visit this place early in the morning since it could get a little too crowded, especially in the afternoon.
Las Piñas–Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area
Also known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland is a protected area with its own mangrove forests that serve as a shelter for migratory birds. The mangrove forest of LPPCHEA is one of the few remaining mangrove forests in Metro Manila.