The Immortal Charm of Paco Cemetery


Paco Park was a previous cemetery for illustrious citizen of old Manila. Located in the town of San Fernando de Dilao (presently known as Paco), the cemetery was built in 1807 and was later enlarge to intern victims of a cholera epidemic that swept Manila during that period. No burial have taken place in this cemetery since 1912. In 1966, the cemetery was renovated and turned into a national park.



 Today, Paco Park is a popular venue for weddings and a weekly evening concert called Paco Park Presents.



A Circular Cemetery


The cemetery has a circular plan, with an inner concentric wall which was the original cemetery. The walls used to have five tiers of wall niches. Only three layers are visible today. The floor was raised because of flooding. The niches on inner wall are reserved as the exclusive burial place of the prominent Spaniards of that time. 



 The focal point of the cemetery is the circular chapel of St. Pancratius. The chapel was done in classical style and has a cemented dome.



 On the sides of the chapel are stairs leading to an open terrace lined with stone balustrades (Some portions of terrace’s stone balustrades are gone).





The Mystery of the Missing Grave


Located at the outer circle is a landmark that indicates the burial place of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal after his execution in Bagumbayan on December 30, 1896. 


Unusual is how the initials of Jose P. Rizal are inscribed in reverse (RPJ) on the cross. According to story, the day before he was put to death, the family of Rizal prevailed upon Spanish authorities to turn over his corpse to them later the next day. The pleas were met with refusal after refusal because the authorities feared the burial site would be used a symbol of martyrdom.



Finally, toward evening, the civil governor of Manila, Manuel Luego, took pity on Rizal’s mother and gave her permission to take the body after the execution. Rizal’s sister Narcisa, made arrangements for a coffin and transportation.


Once notified that the execution was over, the family proceeded to the execution site, but the remains of Jose had already been removed. Narcisa, searched in vain for the body of his brother in all the cemeteries in Manila. Passing through Paco Cemetery in the afternoon, she came upon some civil guards and correctly surmised that their presence indicated that her brother had been buried there. She searched all over Paco Cemetery until she found a grave with freshly turned earth. She bribed the gravedigger to place a plaque with Rizal initials in reveres –R.P.J. to mark the site.




About immortality


Visiting a cemetery reminds us of immortality. A stroll at Luneta Park while remembering Rizal’s legacy makes him immortal. A walk in Paco Park while admiring its classical architecture and design makes its charm and beauty immortal.





The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hello Traveler on Foot. I really like your series on Ermita, Manila since I work here and live in nearby Malate. May I suggest you visit the Supreme Court along Padre Faura. The information office conducts tours upon request (weekdays only). The main building is worth seeing especially the en banc session hall, the main lobby and the hall where the portraits of previous chief justices hang. Thanks and happy traveling to the 3 of you (I assume tatlo kayo, with the young boy na lumalaki na) 🙂

    • Hello Andre C. Thank you for this lead. We’ll sure check this out. -Glenn

  2. Great blog. Keep up your traveling on foot.

  3. hello, where is the exact place of paco park? Did the remains of jose Rizal still there?

  4. i’m wondering if you know the contact number of this place. we are planning to do a photoshoot and i heard that we needed a permit so i’d like to know their number.

    interesting blog by the way. and nice photos.

  5. […] to Traveler on Foot and Wikipedia for the additional […]

  6. how can i go to paco cemetery if i’m from bustillos? tnx

  7. Its really a pity that historical sites like Paco Park is allowed to go to ruin.Our National Historical Institute and other concerned government agencies should take steps to preserve this magnificent site. I remember way back in the early sixties when I visited Paco Cemetery (it was still called Paco Cemetery then). Although still a young boy of 13 at the time, I was appalled at the neglect and decay of the place.Weeds, vines and general deterioration were clearly evident. It was lucky that by 1966 it was made into a Park which in some ways, halted the deterioration, and preservation was done. Today, after a recent visit, I once again saw signs of neglect and ruin.Perhaps the blame should also fall on all of us who let this great historical shrine go to waste. Let us wake up from our lethargy and take active steps to preserve our historical sites, if only for the sake of our children and grandchildren, who should see concrete and lasting relics of our colored history and to better appreciate the things they read in history books.

  8. well….thanks for this article its help to my report

    • You’re welcome Jesusa France

  9. good pm. where can i ask for wedding reservations in the church? do you know the phone number or the website? thanks

  10. Not a problem bambit. Goodluck!

  11. […] The immortal charm of Paco Cemetery […]

  12. Hello, I’ve linked this article as related reading to my own blog post on Paco Park. Thank you for the wealth of information.

  13. hey Victorino,

    I know how you feel when historical places like Paco Park are being allowed to deteriorate.

    Let’s keep our blogs alive to remind people of the charm of these old places.

    Let’s encourage more people to visit places like Paco Park, Luneta and Intramuros. By bringing people into these places, they will be more aware of the current condition and the reason why we need to preserve these places.

    you have a very engaging blog. I’ll link you up.

  14. This side of Paco Park opposite the Swiss Inn and Garden Plaza Hotel is a favorite pit stop of taxi drivers. I cannot recall if the stall was there during the time Doroy Valencia, vice chairman of National Park’s Development Committee. During his watch, Paco Park was very well maintained, and so was the Rizal Park. “Concert at the Park” and “Paco Park Presents” are some of the cultural events the Marcos regime has initiated that are worth keeping.

    Today, the other side of this circular cemetery is often used as a parking lot by container vans and busses while vagrants sleep on the sidewalk outside the wall. Not to mention the deteriorating condition of the wall and the neglect of the greenery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: