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Arroceros Park

Makati Garden Club has consistently supported the Winner Foundation annually to maintain Arroceros Forest Park, which is known as MANILA’S LAST LUNGthe last open space in the crowded city of Manila. Unfortunately, this “Last Lung” was taken away from the Winner Foundation by the Manila Government.  Being a not-for-profit organization, the Winner Foundation has shifted its support temporarily to the Hospicio de San Jose.  Thus all funds given by the Makati Garden Club are diverted to the support of Hospicio de San Jose.

The Arroceros Forest Park is a riverside urban forest park in Manila, Philippines, located on Antonio Villegas Street (former Calle Arroceros) in the central district of Ermita.

Developed in 1993, the 2.2-hectare (5.4-acre) park on the south bank of the Pasig River, at the foot of Quezon Bridge, consists of secondary growth forest with 61 different tree varieties and 8,000 ornamental plants providing a habitat for 10 different bird species.[1] Despite its small size, it is considered an important feature of the city in providing fresh air to the Lawton area, which is traversed by many commuters from other cities in the region.[2] It lies in a historic area of Manila and has been called “Manila’s last lung”, being the city’s only nature park.[3] The park is administered by the City Government of Manila in partnership with private environmental group, Winner Foundation.


The area occupied by the Arroceros Forest Park used to be part of the parián or market of Manila.

During Spanish rule, in the 19th century, it was the site of the Fabrica de Arroceros, a tobacco factory of the Spanish Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas.

During the Philippine revolution and the first Philippine Republic, Philippine forces had control over the area for some time as they surrounded Intramuros.

During American rule, it was used as a military garrison which housed the Signal Corps at the Cuartel de Infantería (“infantry barracks”) and the Surgeon General’s office at the Estado Mayor (“major estate”).

When the USA transferred sovereignty over the islands to the Philippines after World War II, the barracks were converted into the headquarters of
the Department of Education. [3]
The park was established in 1993 after the government’s education department offices were transferred to its present location in Pasig. Through a memorandum of agreement signed between the City of Manila and Winner Foundation supported by then First Lady Amelita Ramos, the city agreed to lease the site for development as a nature park by the private environmental group. With an initial 150 century-old trees that survived the war, the park now hosts over 3,000 trees through reforestation efforts spearheaded by the Manila Seedling Bank.[3][1]

The park became the subject of controversy in 2003, when then mayor Lito Atienza ordered its closure to give way to the construction of a school administration building and teachers’ dormitory for Division of City Schools – Manila on a portion of the park despite protests from conservation groups. The groups claimed that of the 8,000 trees in the park in 2000, only 2,000 remained when the buildings were completed. The park was reopened in 2007.[4]

However, the memorandum of agreement signed earlier in the 1990s had expired a year later in 2008, leaving the park vulnerable to any future threats to its existence. A few years later, the park was threatened once again, when in July 2017, the Winner Foundation received an order from the Manila city government to vacate the park so that the city could build a gymnasium inside. This prompted the Winner Foundation and its partner groups to launch a signature campaign opposing the construction of the gym.[5] An online petition made by a partner group urging the Senate Committee on Climate Change reached 115,000 signatures.[2] The construction of the gym was eventually deferred by former mayor President Joseph Estrada.[6]

Upon winning the mayoral election, Isko Moreno said he would not allow any construction from occurring in Arroceros Forest Park, vowing to block the impending construction of the gym made by the previous city administration.[2]

On February 27, 2020, Mayor Isko Moreno signed City Ordinance No. 8607, or the Arroceros Forest Park Ordinance, designating the Arroceros Forest Park as a permanent forest park instead of as ordinary city property. Under this ordinance, cutting of trees, dumping of waste, and excavation is prohibited within the area. Alongside the ordinance, the mayor also revealed plans to allocate P1 million for the park’s operations, to appoint “peace officers” to help in taking care of the park, and to expand the forest park as the highlight of a future green city in the Lawton area.[7]

The park was formally reopened in February 2022 as the Arroceros Urban Forest Park after a redevelopment. The park which was 2.51 hectares was expanded by 5 hectares.[8]

In October 2023, a group of public school teachers staged a “Zumba protest” at Arroceros Park in front of the DCS-Manila offices to demand higher wages, better facilities and working conditions, and a bigger budget for the education sector.[9]


The Arroceros Forest Park, designed by landscape architect Wilfrido Dizon and the Bulacan Garden Corporation, is home to over 3,500 trees of diverse variety, such as acacia mangiumacacia auriculiformisAfrican tulip treeagohoanahawbanyanbunga de chinadapdapeucalyptusficus benjaminafire treeIndian treekamagongmahoganyMacArthur palmmolavenarraneemrain treerattanrubber treetalisayteaktiesa and yucca. It is also inhabited by different fruit trees, including aratilisavocado, banana, caimito, coconut, guavamacopa, mango, santol, as well as ornamental plants like calachuchigardeniagolden showerpalomaria and ylang-ylang.[11] The park has tiled pathways and concrete roads giving access to areas around the park. It also contains a fish pond and bridge, as well as a riverside walk. The park is a habitat of different bird species, such as the long-tailed shrikepied fantailzebra dovePacific swallowyellow-vented bulbul and brown shrike.[11]

It also houses the Manila Education Center, the central offices for the Division of City Schools located at its southern edge.


The park is located in the center of Manila, just north of the Manila City Hall adjacent to the walled district of Intramuros. It is within walking distance from the LRT Line 1 Central Terminal station and is right across from the Manila Metropolitan Theater. It is accessible from Rizal Park and southern Manila via Padre Burgos Avenue, and from northern Manila via Quezon Boulevard and Quezon Bridge. It is also near the Lawton Bus Terminal and the Pasig River Ferry Lawton Station.

Hospicio de San Jose

At a very busy area of Manila, Hospicio de San Jose is a haven for abandoned, neglected children.

Their headquarters are at an island in the middle of the Pasig River, right by the Ayala Bridge in downtown, Manila.  Since 1810, this temporary shelter still stands today, evolving with the changing times and new forms of poverty to open its doors to the “truly poor” and marginalized by Philippine society.  It is a non-profit Catholic charitable organization run by the Vincentian order of Sisters.

The Hospicio provides temporary shelter, crisis prevention programs, care for special needs persons, the elderly, and children and youth welfare programs. 

Makati Garden Club was approached to clean up and landscape the gardens of the Children’s Ward at PGH.  

The Philippine General Hospital is a state-owned hospital administered and operated by the University of the Philippines Manila. It is designated as the National University Hospital, and the national government referral center. It stands within a 10-hectare (25-acre) site located at the UP Manila Campus in ErmitaManila. PGH has 1,100 beds and 400 private beds, and has an estimated of 4,000 employees to serve more than 600,000 patients every year.

The Philippine General Hospital was designed by architect William Parsons in a neo-classic style that follows the Daniel Burnham plan for Manila. Parsons was an architect and city planner known for his works in the Philippines during the early period of American colonization in the country.  He designed five wards with wide open windows with each ward facing a garden to catch the cross breezes from the river Pasig.  The hospital remains the same with the five wards facing lush gardens.


Civic Projects & Conservation

Parks can range in size from a few hundred square feet – a bench, some plantings, and a tiny plot of grass on a busy corner – to thousands of hectares in the Sierra Madres. They can serve many purposes. They are the LUNGS of the city, offering green space and fresh air to people who more often than not experience nothing but concrete and exhaust fumes. They protect open land, extraordinary landscapes, historic sites, while also functioning as open air classrooms and laboratories for children and others.

Makati was once a beautiful spacious district, dotted with buildings, with the graceful Ayala Avenue running the length of the metropolis on one end, and McKinley Road on the other. Over the years, a concrete jungle of buildings mushroomed, more streets were paved, overpasses constructed, and unfortunately, open spaces and parks were slowly swallowed up. Unlike most major densely populated cities in the world that boast beautiful sprawling parks, Makati City sadly has none.

The public today is beginning to understand the pivotal role that parks and open spaces play in enhancing the quality of life in our never-ending expanding cities, Makati included. City parks are an important element of smart growth that addresses both the public’s need for green space and the role of green space in mitigating higher development density. Many residents oppose high density because they believe it will consume open space, further exacerbate the already terrible parking and traffic issues, and threaten the existing quality of life with the exhaust and smog that envelopes the city. It has been found that people are now more likely to accept smaller residential properties if there is a park nearby.

Parks and open spaces are often thought of as the venue for fun and games, but that is only one role they play in a city environment. Urban parks, which includes plazas, landscaped boulevards and public gardens, significantly define the layout, real estate value, traffic flow, public events, and the civic culture of the community. With these open spaces and greenery, our cities and neighborhoods take on structure, beauty, breathing room and value.

As the city of Makati becomes more built-up, Ayala Land and Macea should invite City Government and other civic groups to work together to plan and cultivate the open areas. They must realize that preserving these green spaces are just as important as building high-density, urban structures.

Makati Garden Club constantly assists in this important goal. Our aim is to develop and enhance greenery and create a Makati that is nestled in an environment of trees, flowers, parks (small parks), and rich bio-diversity. Besides identifying, protecting and creating green spaces, and making existing natural heritage accessible to the public, MGC strives to promote public responsibility and awareness of Makati’s natural environment (what is left of it.

MGC wants to turn Makati into a city within a garden — create beautiful gardens all around Makati. There are a few open spaces left, and even a few hundred square feet can become a welcome oasis to the weary public. If we develop and create these pocket gardens and tiny parks, we can achieve a semblance of a garden city, much like Singapore is. Plant beautiful shady trees along the avenues, landscape the existing parks and open spaces, make these areas lush, green and welcoming. Vertical walls are also an excellent idea in developing greenery in concrete ridden areas.

Parks and green spaces should be designed to be as beautiful, exciting and functional as they can be, rather than merely adequate, regardless of the resources available. Good design doesn’t mean expense – it means the best design possible for the use of the open space, given the resources at hand. That takes creativity and understanding of the community and its needs and desires, as well as a commitment to making sure that the community enjoys a facility that is first class, as befits Makati, wherein the Ayalas evangelize: “Make it happen, Make it Makati”.

Green space and parks are important to the life and well-being of the communities. These open spaces, breathing rooms, lungs of the city, sometimes fall to the citizens to take the lead in protecting, restoring and creating the much needed green space. It is heart-warming and gratifying to know that Ayala Land and Macea have gotten involved in further developing and protecting the open spaces. Collaborating with other groups and individuals and soliciting help from media can make the task go even more smoothly.

And advocacy, with both policymakers and the public should go on not only before and during the process of restoration, but throughout its life….forever. Taken together, the actions will lead to community improvement for the benefit of all.

Makati Garden Club always looks forward to collaborating with ALI and Macea in its desire to improve, preserve, and create green space in this soon to be Garden City.

Ayala Triangle Tower Two


UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Baños)

UPLB implements hundreds of undergraduate scholarships and fellowship grants given by several donors and benefactors with benefits ranging from tuition, book allowances, living allowances and others.  Makati Garden Club has been a supporter of these scholarships with a focus on Agriculture. When the covid pandemic broke out, MGC withdrew from the scholarships as everything was shut down. We are now once again ready to move back into granting two (2) scholarships a year to 2 deserving students throughout their studies until graduation.


Aside from supporting 2 deserving students at UPLB, Makati Garden Club also supports Family Farms Schools in Dagatan and Lipa. We underwrite expenses for a group of school children per year towards the education of farming and environmental conservation.