If the grassy lawns of Luneta or Paco fall short, urbanite tree huggers can scoot to the northern borders of La Mesa Ecopark for the much-needed therapy of nature-bonding. An excellent place for family picnics and school field trips, this resuscitated parkland delivered by from the destruction of rampant illegal logging and poaching in East Fairview, Quezon City welcomes flocks of city folk seeking respite and leisure in Manila’s last standing forest, especially during long weekends and holidays.
This nature preserve, continually rehabilitated by government and private agencies since 1999, sustains a vital watershed– the primary source of drinking water for Metro Manila’s 13 million residents. After a flight of stairs flanked by terraced flower beds, one can peer over this vast reservoir. For security purposes, photography is not allowed in this area. Elsewhere, the flora and green vistas make perfect subjects to practice nature photography. Enjoy a short walk on an easy trail, rent a rowboat (P100, 30 min.; good for four) and simply take your time. Fishing, hiking and zip-lining are other activities one can enjoy with the assurance of a fresh breeze. For more peaceful environs, visit the park during weekdays to avoid all those weekend warriors and family herds.
Here’s how to get to La Mesa Ecopark: From Quezon Avenue MRT (P15) station, ride a jeepney (P8) to Philcoa, near U.P.-Diliman, where you can grab a Fairview-bound FX (P15) that will take you through the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. Take note of the following landmarks: Iglesia ni Cristo Templo Central, Ever Gotesco, Sandiganbayan, Litex and Mercury Drugstore, before hitting the entrance of East Fairview Subdivision at your right. (It will be more convenient to inform the FX driver that you’re going to the park.) From the corner of Winston St. and Commonwealth Ave., a tricycle (P25) will take you through the subdivision to your final destination (park entrance fee: P50).