La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City is the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents. The property is owned by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a government agency. La Mesa Watershed is 2700 hectares, 700 hectares of which is the reservoir and 2000 hectares of which is the surrounding forest. This forest is the last remaining one of its size in Metro Manila and serves as its carbon dioxide sink. La Mesa Watershed, therefore, is vital to the city, not only because it is a primary source of drinking water, but also because its forest functions as the lungs of Metro Manila, providing it with clean air.
Due to lack of funds, illegal settling, poaching and logging, La Mesa Watershed came into disrepair and ruin. In 1999, ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. created Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) and, in partnership with the MWSS, undertook the Save La Mesa Watershed Project. The project aimed to rehabilitate, reforest, preserve and protect La Mesa Watershed. The total area that needed reforestation was 1500 hectares. Today, eight years since the project started, only 158 hectares remain to be planted. Bantay Kalikasan’s strategy of actively involving the general public in the project, through its Adopt/Protect-ATree/ Hectare programs, was key to its success.
To sustain the Save La Mesa Watershed Project, Bantay Kalikasan, in partnership with the MWSS and the Q.C. Government, rehabilitated and renovated a 33 hectare public park located right outside the natural boundaries of the watershed and 40 meters below the reservoir. In September 2004, it was renamed La Mesa Ecopark and reopened to the public. All revenues generated by La Mesa Ecopark are utilized for the continuous preservation and protection of La Mesa Watershed.
La Mesa Ecopark envisions a better environment for our children. Our mission is to spread environmental awareness through education and advocacy. La Mesa Ecopark is a venue providing for healthful outdoor recreation and a true forest experience. It is a living classroom and laboratory for environmental education and aims to be a center for biodiversity conservation. In 2006, over 280 different schools from all over the country, some coming from as far as Laoag, Bohol and Cebu, trooped to La Mesa Ecopark for their educational school field trips. Today, the park continues to be a popular destination for family outings and picnics; a more healthful alternative to shopping malls.
At La Mesa Ecopark, each member of the family can enjoy varied outdoor activities. La Mesa Ecopark boasts of the following facilities:
Lopez Picnic Grounds – Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees.
Salt Water Swimming Pool – Probably the only salt water pool that is open to the public. Salt granules are used instead of chlorine making the water safer and less toxic.
Superferry Boating Lagoon – To experience and enjoy a paddle boat ride, one once had to trek all the way to Baguio’s Burnham Park to do so. Now this popular activity is available right here in Quezon City.
Fishing Lagoon – Fishing is another very popular to-do at the park.
Petron Fitness and Mountain Bike Trail – Here, one can enjoy a full-body workout under the shade of trees. The fitness trail has 17 exercise stations and connects to a forested 1.2 km mountain bike trail.
Shell Flower Terraces – Two hectares of flower terraces. This is actually the dam wall of the reservoir.
Ecomuseum – A museum dedicated to environmental education and biodiversity conservation.
Butterfly Trail and Hatchery – An educational walk through the wonderful, colorful world of butterflies.
Various pavilions for rent are available for private functions.
Overnight camping facilities also available.
Other facilities coming soon are:
Adventure Zone Team Building Facility
Come visit La Mesa Ecopark! Just by visiting, you are already actively participating in saving La Mesa Watershed. See you all at La Mesa Ecopark!
LA MESA ECOPARK MISSION
The primary purpose of La Mesa Ecopark is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. In meeting these purposes, the conservation of the natural, scenic, aesthetic, and historical values of parks should be given first consideration. Stewardship responsibilities should be carried out in a way that protects the natural outdoor experience for the enjoyment of current and future generations. All revenues generated by La Mesa Ecopark are used for the continuous preservation and protection of the La Mesa Watershed, which is the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents.
Come hell or high water. As the old cliche goes, Typhoon Mina did not hinder San Pedro East Family to find its way to La Mesa Watershed. The inclusive Family was composed of Rotary Club of San Pedro East Rotarians and Rotaractors, a Spouse and a Kid. The event was the club’s first “A Day with my Family” Project for Rotary Year 2011-2012. The long and winding journey did not hamper the excitement of the delegates of San Pedro East. Heavy traffic brought by the heavy rain was aggravated by the massive road rehabilitation along the way and was intensified by the fact that it was a long four-day vacation. But through hooks and crooks, the courageous treeplanters made it to the destination.
Mr. Abelardo B. Angaldo Jr., the Head Forester briefed the participants of the essence of La Mesa Watershed’s existence and of the importance of sustaining the reservoir. According to him, La Mesa Watershed and the rest of its complex community plays four major roles. First, it acts as the carbon sink of the Metro. Although it only contributes to 3-5% pollution absorption rate, La Mesa makes wonders as the residents in the vicinity attest to the better local climate they are experiencing. The days are not too hot and the nights are still cold, they say. Second, La Mesa is a natural habitat of wild boars, deer, monkeys, snakes, lizards, birds and other fauna. Also, the rainforest is home to various species of endemic flora species. Third, La Mesa is a living laboratory. Several research studies, fora and symposiums are being done in this forest in the middle of the city. Fourth, La Mesa Ecopark serves as a recreational venue for family and corporate affairs, and that’s why San Pedro East keeps on coming back to La Mesa.
The San Pedro East Family donated additional twenty trees for a total of sixty trees since the team started its advocacy in RY 2008-2009. This year, ten trees were adopted by RCSPE while the other ten were espoused by RACSPE.
The Trees ‘R Us. After the briefing, the group went down to the main event- the tree planting. Another three foresters or “manggugubat” as they call themselves stepped into the limelight. They were Jose Pascual, Atanacio Sta. Cruz and Mar Zeri Ramirez. They taught the neophyte planters the proper way of planting trees. The experts started with preparing the soil media. Each bag of soil medium was composed of 70% topsoil, 20% organic fertilizer and 10% sand. Organic Fertilizer are being made in LaMesa itself. Dried leaves and other highly biodegradable wastes are broken down by cultured earthworms in Vermicompost pits.
This Is How We Do It. San Pedro East adopted twenty trees for this year but it did not mean that the team actually planted the same number of trees. And apparently, each tree did not necessarily cost Two Hundred Fifty Pesos (Php 250.00). The sum of the proceeds are being used to support the whole La Mesa. The group was able to plant approximately 200 seedlings of Cupang trees. Each seedling is planted first in a 3″x8″ black seedling bag and is transplanted in the forest after quite some time. The foresters showed the beginners the appropriate depth of the hole to where the roots of the tree would be inserted. Four factors affect the growth of the trees, they say. Vegetation, soil, water and temperature are interrelated as far as the survival of the tree is concerned.
The Earthy Worms. The foster parents of the newly-earthed trees had the chance to have an encounter with the “unearthly” kind- the earthworms. Eudrilus eugeniae, these worms are commonly over six inches long. They are good compost worms and are great for fishing because of their size and as they are lively on the hook and have a firm skin. They prefer temperatures of around 75ºF- 85ºF , but can tolerate 45ºF- 90ºF, cannot tolerate extreme cold and dislike disruption of environment and handling. Weight: 175 to 200 worms per pound. Its name in English is African Nightcrawlers. One forester showed the participants how such earthworms decompose the waste materials. Some girls were hesitant to even look at these creatures. But with persistent debriefing, most of the visitors felt at ease. Even one Rotakid dared to hold one worm.
The Day That Was. After the re-briefing, integration and awarding of Certificate of Adoption, the group went straight home for heavy rain was unbearable. Mr. Angaldo was very grateful to the foster parents and he assured that San Pedro East’s Advocacy will not be put in vain.