Ecopark opens new swimming complex
- Rhodina Villanueva () - March 6, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  The new La Mesa Ecopark swimming complex in Quezon City was inaugurated yesterday in the hope of attracting more revenue for the continued preservation and protection of the La Mesa Watershed.

The swimming pool has been one of the park’s main attractions and high revenue-earners, attracting large numbers of customers, especially during the summer. Since the Ecopark opened in 2004, 280,000 persons visit the park per year.

With a new six-lane standard short course freshwater pool and two saltwater kiddie or wading pools, the Ecopark hopes to meet this demand and increase revenues while at the same time upholding safety standards.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, 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.

He said 97 percent of water in Metro Manila come from La Mesa. “It is a watershed in the middle of the metropolis that provides escape for the people of Metro Manila.”

Alikpala lauded Lopez for “opening the eyes of the people to the cause of La Mesa.” According to Lopez, the swimming complex was destroyed when typhoon “Ondoy” hit Metro Manila in September 2009. The construction of the new pool complex was made possible through Madrigal’s Senate Priority Development Fund.

“God has really been good to me because I have good friends who help. I have a good mayor and vice mayor and a good MWSS chairman,” Lopez said.

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 the metropolis’ carbon sink.

Due to lack of funds, illegal settling, poaching and logging, the watershed was nearly ruined in the 1990s until ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. created Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) and, in partnership with the MWSS and the Quezon City government, undertook the Save La Mesa Watershed Project in 1999.

Darryn Castillo, senior resource mobilization officer of Bantay Kalikasan, said that to sustain the 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,” Castillo said.

BANTAY KALIKASAN DARRYN CASTILLO FOUNDATION INC GINA LOPEZ IN SEPTEMBER LA MESA LA MESA ECOPARK LA MESA WATERSHED LOPEZ METRO MANILA QUEZON CITY
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