Saturday, December 25, 2010

La Mesa Ecopark

Last Sunday, we had a chance to experience the La Mesa Ecopark with 2 other family friends. The ecopark is situated near Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, hence QC residents pay lower than the Php 50 entrance fee. Kids below 3 feet can enter the park free. 

The forest park is being maintained by ABS-CBN Foundation since 2004 through Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) in partnership with MWSS and other private donors. Its an offshoot of their reforestation program to protect the La Mesa watershed, which supplies potable water to more than 12 million Metro Manila and nearby residents.

The park has many picnic areas with free concrete table and chairs, like the one below. Those who want to use portable table and 4 plastic chairs may rent one set at Php 120 per set.

However, since we want a more relaxing stay, we rented a hut at Php 500 for whole day use. The hut below could easily accommodate 6 people for a siesta (afternoon nap) after a hearty picnic lunch. 

There are also many grilling stations and washing areas for guests' use. We chose a hut near the entrance because of its proximity to a washroom, blind massage therapists, bike area, and the swimming pool. It also afforded more privacy, as there is a wedding function and company christmas parties who occupied the rear part of the park.

The park is clean, thanks to the park staff who try to get the fallen tree leaves from time to time.  Even the huts' bamboo floor is clean, as the hand towel that we used to wipe it did not caught any dirt. Since the park is maintained by an environmentalist group, they also promote waste segregation with the color-coded garbage bins below.

Unfortunately, the swimming pool is reserved for another large group that day, so swimming is not an option. Separate fee for swimming pool is at Php 80 per adult.

There is also a fishing pond, but one of the park staff discouraged us to try it because the pond has low water due to dredging maintenance. Bamboo fishing rod rent is Php 20/pc, and they will charge Php 80/kg of fish caught in the pond.

While our respective wives are having a relaxing massage by blind masseuses, my kids and our family friend's kids rode the small horses on the park at Php 50/person, for just a 3-minute walk around the designated horse path. Like in Tagaytay, it is very expensive, if compared with the Php 50/hour horseback riding we experienced in Pagadian City's rotunda.

After the horseback ride, we went up to the grassy hill to see the part of La Mesa dam. This part of the dam is outlined by a road, which could lead to a bigger and higher Ipo Dam, where we had our company-sponsored tree planting activity a few years back.The view from the hill is nice and relaxing with all the greens and the pond below.

Then, we have to navigate the long concrete stairs on our way down.

Later, the kids decided to ride the bikes with rental fee of Php 60-80 per hour, while the forest breeze lulled me into a quick nap on the hut.   

In case you forgot to bring food, or if you want to use a banig (native mat), get a henna tattoo, or buy souvenirs as pasalubong, there are stalls in the park who can serve those needs.

This park is a healthier and cheaper alternative recreation than malls. The kids also get to appreciate nature, and exercise their muscles than sitting in front of TV set and computer games. It also feels good that part of the fees you pay here goes to the reforestation program of La Mesa watershed.

There's a good chance that we will be back here, especially when the boating and fishing facilities are fully operational for customers' use.To get driving directions and other info on the park, you may click their website here.

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