Monday, January 17, 2005

Green talk

If most of my picture posts this week are about greens, it's because I made a short trip to the Arroceros Forest Park last Saturday. Never did I imagine an old-growth forest in the middle of the smoke and noise of downtown Manila just right under my nose. eschewing riding my car, took a P15 LRT ride from Buendia to Central Station.

The entrance is just right under the station. Entrance is free, as nobody is really minding the gates. Going in, saw some young adults going through the motions of a rah-rah number, presumably rehearsing for a sort-of-cheering competition or tournament. The place is surprisingly clean, and once inside, you momentarily forget you're in the middle of polluted downtown Manila.

There's a strolling area on the water's edge that connects to Lawton-Mehan Garden. A young boy accompanied by a Caucasian adult (I hope there's no hanky-panky here) enquired about boats making trips down the Pasig. Sadly, I know of no boat plying the route anymore. The sight of the murky Pasig and the factories that blight that waterway won't make the trip appealing anyway.

There were birds chirping very noisily among the trees (a rare sight here) while the wind sings with the leaves and branches every now and then. There are not much benches to sit on but then again, the refreshing sight of greens is enough to calm one's spirits. There were contradictory signages as well, like one that announces: "Sama-sama sa Arroceros Forest Park" and the sign outside that ominously says: "On this site will rise the new City College building." This has been a subject of argument among historians, environmentalists and the manila city government. All I can say is, we need this forest. We need more of it. one can't simply level off old-growth forests and not pay the price for this indiscretion.

So the next time you're in the vicinity, feel free to drop by the Arroceros Forest Park. It's free of charge. It's like a breath of very fresh air in the midst of all the smog. It's a great alternative to the prevalent mall culture. and who knows, it might just help convince Mayor Atienza and his cohorts to keep the park for the next generations.

How to get there: via LRT: board off at central station. Fare varies from 10-16 pesos depending on your point of origin. Via jeep or bus: take any that ply the Quiapo-Lawton route. Board off at Arroceros/Metropolitan Theater.

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