Fast-paced and highly-industrialized are just two of the adjectives that aptly describe Quezon City. The biggest City in the Philippines in terms of land area and population is home to diverse establishments and institutions such as government offices, business process outsourcing companies, institutions of higher education, and small and medium enterprises. It’s hard to imagine that there are other sights to see beyond the bright city lights and the busy streets filled with all sorts of vehicles. There are, however, many areas in Quezon City that provide an escape from the city’s hurried pace. Take for example, historic landmarks, museums, parks, and places of worship.
What’s even better is that in Quezon City, enthusiasts may easily enjoy the quietude of nature without having to go too far. Here are 5 spots in the City of Stars for a quick dose of the great outdoors:
I. La Mesa Watershed and Eco Park (East Fairview)
La Mesa Watershed and Eco Park is home to a protected area where the only major watershed in Metro Manila can be found. Inside it is a vast rainforest, said to be the last remaining tropical forest of its size in Metro Manila. La Mesa Watershed itself is 2,700 hectares in land area but the Eco Park, the area that is open to the public, is only 33 hectares in size. The water reservoir within it is 70 feet in depth and is the primary source of drinking water of Metro Manila.
If you are thinking of spending the whole day here, then don’t worry because there is a long list of activities that you can pre-occupy yourself with aside from basking in the unadulterated beauty of your surroundings. For one, you may opt to bring picnic goodies with you. There’s no better way to enjoy your favorite meal or snack than to have it while marveling at the beauty of the greenery around you. After your meal, you may opt to take a laid-back walk along the shaded paths amid tall trees and flowering plants. Biking is also allowed inside; you may either bring your own bike or rent one.
Visitors may also opt to cool down with a dip at the swimming pool, a saltwater pool that is the only one of its kind in Metro Manila. Instead of using chlorine as water purifier, it uses salt granules which are considered safer and less toxic.
Other activities that can be enjoyed inside La Mesa Eco Park are horseback riding, rappelling, zip-lining, fishing, bird-watching, and paddle boat riding in the lagoon. You may also want to drop by the Eco-museum, an institution dedicated to environmental education and biodiversity conservation.
How to go to La Mesa Eco Park
Ride any van, bus or jeepney going to Fairview (SM Fairview or Tungko). You may ask the driver to drop you off at Pearl Drive. From there, ride a tricycle that will take you to La Mesa Eco Park’s entrance. Admission fee is around Php50 for non-Quezon City residents while for residents, it’s Php10 cheaper.
II. Quezon Memorial Circle (Elliptical Road)
The Quezon Memorial Circle is perhaps best known as a destination for families who want a leisurely Sunday stroll or even a picnic amidst the shade of trees. It’s also a place where kids can enjoy a day of fun and recreation at the public playground.
The most striking feature of the park, perhaps, is the 66-metre shrine which stands magnificent against the Quezon City skyline. It is actually home to a mausoleum, the final resting place of former President Manuel L. Quezon and First Lady Aurora Quezon, and a museum. Construction of this shrine began in the 1950s.
The three vertical pylons of the shrine symbolize the three major island groups of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It stands at 66 meters in height, the age when President Quezon died. According to the Quezon City website, the three mourning angels on top of the pylons were crafted by renowned Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti who resided in the Philippines from 1930 until his death in 1958.
President Quezon’s catafalque (a decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state) was made in the likeness of Napoleon Bonaparte’s. President Ferdinand Marcos decreed the site as a National Shrine.
There are two museums located in Quezon Memorial Circle. One is dedicated to priceless items and artifacts about Quezon City while the other is for housing the memorabilia of past mayors.
How to go to Quezon Memorial Circle
Ride any bus, van or jeepney going to Fairview (SM Fairview or Tungko). You may ask the driver to drop you off at any of the unloading points along the Elliptical Road. There are pedestrian lanes and underpasses that will take you to the park. If you are coming from Fairview, ride any bus, van or jeepney bound for Quiapo. You may alight at Philcoa or at the Department of Agrarian Reform waiting shed. Just cross the Elliptical Road via any of the pedestrian lanes or underpasses to get to the Circle.
III. Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center (Quezon Avenue)
A zoological and botanical garden, the 80-hectare park is home to various species of trees, wild animals and a wildlife rescue center. The area occupied by Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center was part of the former vast tract of land reserved for Quezon Memorial Circle.
How to go to Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center
Take any van or jeepney bound for Fairview (SM Fairview or Tungko). You may ask the driver to drop you off at the waiting shed near the park’s entrance. If you are coming from Fairview, ride any bus, van or jeepney bound for Quiapo. You may get off right at the park’s gate. Admission fee is less than Php10 per adult.
IV. UP Diliman
The sprawling campus of UP Diliman is a favorite destination for joggers and for anybody else who would like to take respite from the daily grind and breathe in fresh air. The tree-lined academic oval and the Sunken Garden are favorite destinations but there are also restaurants and street food kiosks within the campus.
Perhaps one street food that UP Diliman is most famous for is the isaw or barbecued chicken intestines, best bought from Mang Larry’s isawan. If isaw is not your thing, then you may opt for fish balls, squid balls, cheese sticks or banana cue.
How to go to UP Diliman
Ride any bus, van or jeepney going to Fairview (SM Fairview or Tungko). You may ask the driver to drop you off at Philcoa where you may take a UP Philcoa or UP Pantranco jeepney. If you are coming from Fairview, ride any bus, van or jeepney bound for Quiapo then alight at Philcoa, cross the footbridge to the southbound side of Commonwealth Avenue and take a UP Philcoa or UP Pantranco jeepney. If you feel adventurous, why not walk or jog through University Avenue all the way to the UP Academic Oval?
V. UP Arboretum (Commonwealth Avenue but still within the property of UP Diliman)
The UP Arboretum is one of the last few remaining rainforests in Metro Manila. It’s actually a 16-hectare man-made forest located inside the UP Diliman campus and was established by the Department of Agriculture in 1948. It has flourished since then and has become home to exotic and endangered species of trees as well as birds and other animals. Inside the park is a man-made pond where various aquatic plants thrive. This is also a favorite spot among visitors.
How to go to UP Arboretum
Ride any bus, van or jeepney going to Fairview (SM Fairview or Tungko). You may ask the driver to drop you off at Philcoa or at UP Ayala Technohub. Cross to the other side (northbound side of Commonwealth Avenue) then ask a tricycle driver to take you to UP Arboretum.
If you are coming from Fairview, get off at New Era University. From here, you may rent a tricycle going to the UP Arboretum.