Thursday, March 19, 2009

FOREST IN THE METROPOLIS

For those who still do not know of this interesting information, I maybe unpunctual with this news, but as the old axiom goes it is better late the never at all. Last March 1 the family went for an eat al fresco. It was a birthday treat for my youngest daughter Jessreel who actually marked her 2nd natal day on the 24th of February. Bored of monotonous and jammed malls, fast food chains and cinemas I chose to bring the family at the La Mesa Ecopark. When we arrived at the place I thought we would just see the same typical blotch of green plants and open spaces but beyond all these anticipations it was more than foliage as we enter the park proper. It was a seventh heaven full of promises! As we trudge our way to look for a place to set our picnic mat, the park seemed even more persuasive as it paraded its rare varieties of plants, trees insects and animals. Though camping and picnic sites abound around it seemed it runs a spot for us. It was actually Sunday. As luck would have it, after an exhausting walk we were able to see a good picnic site at the amphitheater. My wife and kids wheezed for their breaths as they dropped off into the grass all the stuff and picnic bits and pieces they carried all the way from the main entrance to the amphitheater but even so it was all right since the air is pretty fresher here. I was in command of everything while cuddling Jessreel lol! The amphitheater was a lot cozier reminiscent of the Banawe Rice terraces of the Cordilleras but more distant than the other places so some park goers opt not to have their picnic and camping set up here and we took that opportunity. We laid out our picnic mat under the umbrella of big trees as we shared the foods and drinks I prepared in the evening. My family felt that we were in place where we can get closest to nature while in the city. After the meal my kids kick up their heels around the area while Eva and I just watch them as we relax under the shade of trees sensing the cool soothing breeze. Jesreel, her Ditche (Pau) , Sanse(Days) and me also went to hike at the butterfly trail and hatchery. Eva and Ate Caca were left at the picnic post for a nap. After the trekking Pau and Days went back to the picnic area while Jessreel and me proceeded to the two hectares flower terraces. This is actually the La Mesa dam wall and at the middle of it is a more than 100 steps stairway leading to the reservoir. I managed to challenge my self mount the stairway while cuddling Jessreel. It was a tiring climb but when we reached the summit I was amazed to see the splendid vastness of blue water of the La Mesa Watershed. It was wonderful! I was fascinated while Jessreel was unaware what we were looking at is actually the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manilans. Above the reservoir, partially concealed by swaying tree tops I can see some of the parks attractions below such as the fishing pond, paintball field, super ferry lagoon, swimming pool, orchidarium, fitness center and pavilions, biking, jogging and horseback riding trails and a lot more. Going down the stairway was easier but you have to take extra care or may find yourself bouncing like ball downward. Jessreel was already asleep when we came down from the reservoir and we went back at the picnic post. Eva and the older daughters took their turns to defy the steps of the dam. They posed and took pictures amidst the extravagant flowers of the terrace. . When they went back they were all sweaty, gasping for air as their knees were wobbling. Laughter burst into air. It was past 5 pm when drizzles forced us to pack up and rushed to nearby Narra Pavilion. Caca and Days took more pictures. As we waited the precipitation to stop, I was in deep imagination how in this hurly-burly, all the smog, traffic, crowded streets and slum shanties a forest as its size left remaining in the Metropolis. I thought I will need a dejavu to be able to see again how Manila looks like a century ago. If there is one place that can offer with less preparation and budget the experience and joy of boating or horseback riding of Baguio, or the excitement of swimming pools of Laguna or the adventure of trekking of Mt. Banahaw or picnic bliss in Tagaytay rolled into one - its right here. The La Mesa Ecopark covers 33 hectares, 10 of which are already operational. It rests within the La Mesa Watershed which measures 2,700 hectares and is overlapped by Rizal Province, Caloocan, Marikina, and Quezon City. It is a natural ghetto that pews in the middle of a city.
When the rain stopped we left the park with smiles etched in our faces and a promise in my thought to be back. The family has a lot yet to discover. Check it out!




















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