La Mesa Ecopark
One of the public properties damaged by Typhoon Ondoy has been resurrected and revitalized.
The new La Mesa Ecopark
swimming complex in Quezon City
was inaugurated Saturday (Mar 5) in the hope of attracting more revenue for the continuous preservation and protection of La Mesa Watershed.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, QC Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte, former Senator Jamby Madrigal, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chairman Ramon Alikpala, and ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director Gina Lopez formally opened the new facility to the public.
“La Mesa is important because it not only provides escape for the people of Metro Manila but it also reminds us of the value of our watershed and the importance of protecting it,” said Alikpala. According to Lopez, the swimming complex was destroyed when Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila. It was submerged in floodwaters in September 2009. The construction of the new pool complex was made possible through the Senate Priority Development Fund of Madrigal during her time in the Senate.
The La Mesa Watershed
, a property owned by MWSS, is the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents. It also has 2,000 hectares of forest, the last remaining one of its size in Metro Manila and serves as its carbon sink.
The swimming pool has been one of the park’s main attractions and high revenue-earners, attracting large volumes of customer especially during summer vacation. With a new six lane standard short course (25m) fresh water pool and two saltwater kiddy/wading pools, La Mesa Ecopark hopes to meet this demand and increase revenues while at the same time upholding safety standards.
Due to lack of funds, illegal settling, poaching and logging, the watershed came into disrepair and ruin in the 1990s until ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. created Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) and, in partnership with the MWSS and the Quezon City Local Government, undertook the Save La Mesa Watershed Project in 1999. la Mesa Ecopark
To sustain the Save La Mesa Watershed Project, Bantay Kalikasan
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.
Today, 11 years since the project started, only 170 of the 1,700 hectares that needed reforestation remain to be planted. Bantay Kalikasan’s strategy of actively involving the general public in the project, through its Adopt/Protect-A-Tree/Hectare programs, was key to its success.
Since 2005, over 2,000 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. Since 2005, almost 2 million people visited the park, averaging 280,000 people per year.
Through La Mesa Ecopark, Bantay Kalikasan aims to not just spread environmental awareness through education and advocacy but also ensure a better environment for our children.
By safeguarding the La Mesa Watershed, the group is able to protect a living classroom and laboratory for environmental education and what can be a center for biodiversity conservation in the future.