Tuesday, May 11, 2010

La Mesa Ecopark

I have always said, never ask a local about what to see in his neighborhood cuz chances are he wont be able to tell you the best information about it. Take my case and the La Mesa Ecopark… many friends (some of you are reading this blog) kept asking me about it. My usual reply was “malay ko” or “not sure but its probably just another park by the edge of the dam”. While those replies would not be misleading, they were not very helpful at all, right?

So, because of the so many questions, I decided to go for it – even if reluctantly hehe!

Let’s set the mood please. I live in the Fairview area of QC and way past the La Mesa Ecopark or Dam from center of metropolis. That means I have been passing by (at least the corner leading to) the park for decades of my life. I did not think it most important to find myself in there since deep in me I thought, its just nearby anyway. But thanks to the coercive persistence of many of you, I went there… and I liked it!

Where is it?
Just google it! That was always my reply! But now I can tell you that its somewhere in Fairview hehe! Actually, it’s East Fairview. You enter the village at its gate along Winston St. As of now, there is a building being constructed on that corner where you should turn right to enter the village. Whatever the name of that building will be, soon should be the landmark! As for now, watch out for a Mercury Drug and a KFC on your right, the corner will be a few more meters on. On your left, there is Puregold then a Metrobank branch. That is almost exactly across the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Winston St.,

At Winston St., there is a guard house, but don’t bother. No one checks you out. Just go straight. First corner is Dunhill St., next is Marlboro St., and signage there says that the Maynilad Water La Mesa Dam is to the right, so you make that turn and follow Marlboro to its end and corner with Pall Mall St. Left turn and a few feet down you encounter a corner that heads to the guarded gate of La Mesa Dam. No that is NOT where you are going hehe! There is signage for you to go straight on Pall Mall St., that connects to a curving Paxton St. until it reaches Dunhill St., where you turn right and see a guarded gate in a foresty area! Hmm, wait… that Dunhill St., haven’t we passed by it upon entering the village? Yes, second sentence of this paragraph hehe! Now look at the map I got from wikimapia and wonder! Actually the signage we were following (I hear this happens to almost all visitors) was to the dam’s management offices (blue dot) and not the ecopark's gate (red dot) – because theose are the only signage available. Hayayayayay! look at the green and blue lines in the map, instead of the red that was our path hehe! Anyway…

Here's a picture of that corner near blue dot:

And here's a picture of the park's gate (red dot)

Whats at the Eco-Park?
It’s a sprawling foresty place you would wonder if you were still in the middle of the city, but you are! Oh yes, from the ecopark’s gate and a steel bridge, it is still some bit of a drive before you reach the parking area. But that drive is in itself interesting as you pass by a concrete road with tall green thick foliage. To your left though, beyond the trees is a glimpse of many roofs in a nearby urbanity.

Even before you reach the “pangasiwaan” (administration) also called the Ecocenter, which is a beautiful big hut in front of which is the parking area, you already pass by the paintball field, zipline, rapell, wallclimb and the boating lagoon with pavilion and picnic areas. Hey, its not cheap. Paintball is P500, Rapell is P50, Wall Climb also P50 and the Zipline P100-two way. Actually there is no “one-way” for the zip line unless you want to swim on return hehe. It crosses to the other side of the boating lagoon then back. Its not very long, probably just 50 meters. And its actually not a lagoon. It’s a tier of the dam’s spillway! Oh the boating is also P50 for 30 minutes. All of those though can already be availed without paying the ecopark’s entrance fee since that main entrance is still a bit up the road.

Okay, main entrance and we all pay P40 each. Oops, isn’t the entrance P50? Well yes, but QC residents pay a discounted P40. That main entrance area with ropes to control traffic flow indicates to me the place could get crowded at times. Ah good we were there on a weekday. There was a beautifully painted jeep for a free ride down to the pavilions and other facilities but we opted to walk as the foresty ambiance was inviting. Anyway the road is downhill so it was not really that physically challenging.

As we descended on that road, we heard human noise… bantering, giggling and boisterous youngsters. That’s the Pool & Bath House. Its big and wide irregularly shaped amidst tall trees and lush greenery. But we were not allowed to enter as everyone must pay the another P80 entrance even for just a few souvenir shots. Or P40 if your 3ft tall or below. Gosh, we should have brought our swimming gear! Hey, the “Pool Rules” posted caught my attention as it has something that says “Please be reminded that this is a recreational swimming pool. As such, water baptism and other such activities are not permitted”. I wonder what that baptism thing is. The religious ceremony? Whoa! Well, maybe some religious sects consider this place beautifully serene enough for such rites as indeed it is. And to think, SM Fairview is even still farther away hehe!

The picnic grounds, tables and kiosks are well-maintained. People who do not bring their own food and drinks buy these at the souvenir shop. There is also an area there where folks can cook or grill their food. Nice. Then there is a place that becomes the “Organic Produce & Wellness Market” every Saturday. Ah that would really mean this park teems with people on weekends. Oh the bike trail starts near this place. Then there is another lagoon, this one elongated with concrete fence and they call it the Fishing Wharf. My my, in the middle of this lagoon, that big statue of a naked man and woman riding a turtle is huge. Must have been expensive to construct it and I wonder what its significance is since there are no markers or signages.

Then there is the Flower Terraces. Ah it seems to be the “must be” background for souvenir shots of visitors. The place is planted to grass and a lot of flowers on a sloping part where there is a road on top. Climb the many concrete steps and when you reach that road, you realize that the flower terraces is actually the other side of one of the walls of the dam! Wow! Its not all flowers btw, some are shrubberies with colored leaves. Meticulously maintained by a gardener, some of these are arranged tin the form of or worldly shapes like, ah… the logo of ABS-CBN hehe! Nearby you see some sitting benches under a tree where horses are also resting. Ah that is the “horseback riding” start and end point. Ah let us clarify this horseback thing to manage everyone’s expectations. For P50, you ride on a horse yes, then a caretaker walks the horse around via the concrete path that you have just passed coming to this place and back. It is probably never even 40 meters from start to end. Now if you’ve got children, fine… but when you see adults on board the horse being walked around by another (probably even smaller adult, the sight is weird to unsightly hehe!

Alright going onwards from the horse thing (where they poo and pee anywhere they get the urge) you walk a short path more and there is the amphitheater. Yep, as expected, it’s a part of the grounds shaped like an amphitheater where open air events would probably be wonderful. Otherwise, it just an almost circular grassy hillside surrounded by trees. That area too starts what is called the “fitness and mountain bike trail that circles around the “butterfly trail and hatchery”. Moving away from the flower terraces and the horses, there are more huts, kiosks and pavilions until you reach the orchidarium. It was not as attractive when we visited – meaning there were not so many flowering orchids. Ah the fitness track was fun (we tried just some of it). It is a military-style obstacle course used by companies during team buildings. Onwards still, is the “aquatic center” where ahh there are other inviting big pools – one is irregularly shaped where children have fun while up some stairs is an Olympic style pool with lanes with diving platforms.

Oh well, this place is good and I think you have to arrive early and get out as late as possible to enjoy everything in it. Its just nearby anyway!

1 comment :

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