Friday, June 29, 2007
Paco Park was once a cemetery during the Spanish period and was constructed in the late 18th century and was used to inter victims of the cholera epidemic which ravaged Manila in 1822. The cemetery stopped interment and burial in 1912 (don’t know why) and in 1966 it was converted into a national park.. This beautiful chapel was built inside the walls of the Paco Park and it was dedicated to St. Pancratius.
The cemetery is circular in shape with an inner circular fort that was the original cemetery and with the niches (three level of built-in-vaults) that were placed or located within the hollow walls. Originally the niches cost Php 20 for a 3-year renewable lease (no one was allowed to own the niches). The remains of our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, was interred here after his execution at Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) on December 30, 1896.
During the WWII, Japanese forces used Paco Park as a central supply and ammunition depot. The high thick adobe walls around the park was ideal for defensive positions of the Japanese. Paco Park’s grandeur was slowly restored after the war and since then has remained as a public park and promenade for many teen age sweethearts who could spend quiet moments along the park’s benches and private alcoves.