Samar Mission

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Samar Mission

We traveled by land and sailed by sea
Braving long rides and endless strides
We crossed boundaries to tell His story
Living beyond ourselves to proclaim His glory

Our days were long, and nights were short
But everything fits perfectly to fulfill the call
We lost ourselves to find it once more
In the middle of unfamiliar faces, we dedicated our cause

We started as strangers and ended up as friends forever
Memories we created will be remembered
Days that we will treasure without measure
Stories and anecdotes worth telling pure and sure

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Conquering Mt. Pamitinan

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Every picture has a story to tell just as every mountain has a fascinating tale to reveal. Behind every good shot is an unheard story of struggles, hardships, and pain. Hidden in those smiles is the tough journey they’ve been through just to reach the top. Unseen are the tireless effort, unwavering faith and determination that those courageous attempt will all be worth it when they reach the summit–and the joy on their face clearly say its all worth it!

And our story is no ordinary. It all started at the registration booth. The lady curiously looked at me and my brother and asked us if we have other company for the climb. Being used to the question I politely answered ‘none’ and I told her that we’re willing to wait if there are other climbers so it wont be too boring on our way to the summit. One of the biggest challenges if you’re new to mountain climbing is to find someone from your friends whose willing to join you in this kind of crazy adventure. I’m fortunate enough that I have a brother who won’t let me go alone in my exploration after my constant begging and blackmailing.

After just few minutes of waiting (which happens very rare) a group of climbers arrived and by chance they will also climb Mt. Pamitinan. I asked them if we can be one group in the climb and luckily they agreed. After short introduction and simple greetings of ‘hi’, ‘hello’ we sealed the deal with a groupie.

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More than ready to conquer Mt. Pamitinan with our new found friends and instant travel buddy!

We started this crazy adventure as strangers but this long and exciting journey ahead of us will give us the chance to get to know each other better, listen to each other’s stories on the road, awesome escapade and personal life that will make us good friends for sure.

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So near and yet so far. The view of Mt. Pamitinan from the wooden bridge.

Mt Pamitinan attracts climbers because of its limestone formations, scenic views of Sierra Madre and Rizal province and the 360′ breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains on top.

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The captivating view of Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan

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Enjoy the picturesque view of the twin mountains from the wooden bridge

After we passed through the wooden bridge, the trail that follows was a little easy. It was with high stairs and inclined trails. But I don’t know why but I actually felt a little dizzy and I’d like to throw up everything I ate for breakfast. I decided to have few minutes break. I was thinking what’s wrong with me. I have already climbed three mountains but only the easy ones with wide trails and not so high stairs. After giving myself sometime to recover, I continue climbing with the help of my very worried brother dear.

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Follow the leader este the friendly local guide. 

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Both Mt.Pamitinan and Mt.Hapunang Banoi share a common halfway trail that passes through the rock climbing walls of Montalban until the Junction point of Mt.Pamitinan. From there, the rightward trail leads to Mt. Pamitinan.

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The second half of the trail going to the summit of Mt. Pamitinan was more difficult and dangerous because it’s full of sharp rocks that one wrong move will really leave a deep bruise on your skin. This really requires scrambling and rock climbing skills.

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Physical and mental preparations ate needed for this climb. It’s both physically demanding and mentally challenging especially for beginners, you need to prepare your legs for the steep rocky climb, set your mind of the difficulty level you’re going through. You also have to train your arms for grip for some parts are also roped area and requires wall climbing that’s why wearing glove is a must.

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The mountain was a bit crowded when we went there because it was Saturday so you also need to climb fast so you wont be left behind by your group because the trail is only one way– you need to wait for other climbers  whoare going down before you can take your turn to go up.

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No journey is long and tough with good company.

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Mt. Haponang Banoi at the left.

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There’s no travel buddy like a brother. Climbing this mountain wont be possible without him. 

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I’m so proud of myself! I’m stronger than what I expected.

Before reaching the peak, there are a lot of beautiful rock formations, scenic view for photo opp. This place exceeds my expectation of what a true mountain climbing experience is in terms of difficulty level and the stunning view as well on top.

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We’re on top of the world! And we’re trembling! Its very high!

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Pre-summit of Mt. Pamitinan

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Summit of Mt. Pamitinan.

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It’s my first time! Literally rock climbing. Tiis ganda maakyat lang ang tuktok!

The sole reason why I climb mountains is to reach the summit! And we did it! It was a very tough climb but we made it! We were greeted by strong wind that removed all the weariness in our body. The captivating view on top will make you forget all the hardships you just encountered on your way to the summit.

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Hooray! We conquer Mt. Pamitinan!

After enjoying our moment of victory, we are yet to face another trial. How to go down? As much as its hard to climb going up, how much more going down? I know we can do it!! Me writing the story of our climb in Mt. Pamitinan is a solid proof that we were able to go down safe and sound. Thank you Lord for keeping us safe!

How to get there?

Option 1: From Cubao Farmers in front of Jollibee, take FX going to Eastwood Montalban for only 50 php, then alight at Robinsons Mall. Ride another jeep for 13php or tricycle for 90 php going to DENR Office in Wawa Dam.

Option 2: From Litex, take FX going to Eastwood Montalban, then alight at Robinsons Mall. Ride another jeep for 13php or tricycle for 90 php going to DENR Office in Wawa Dam.

BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES

*Van/FX from Cubao to Eastwood Montalban – 50 pesos
*Jeep from Eastwood Montalban to Wawa Dam – 13 pesos / Tricycle 90 pesos
*DENR Fee – 2 pesos
*Guide Fee – 500 pesos (5 people) plus we gave additional 250 tip to our tour guide because his very nice and kind
*Foods – bring your own and for the tour guide

Bakhawan Eco-park: A local gem

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Life is so full of incredible surprises. Sometimes, what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all. I least envision that the road I have traveled on, paved with less expectation will lead me to this beautiful and exceptional paradise.

Less than 20 minutes by tricycle from my aunt’s house in Kalibo where I was staying for a vacation lead me to the discovery of this real local gem. It’s my first time to be in this place though I always spend my summer vacation in this town. It’s true enough that we take for granted the things around us, making it invisible.

The Bakhawan Eco-Park is a 220 hectare forest of mangroves in New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines. The centerpiece of this mangrove forest is a 1.3-kilometer bamboo trail that takes visitors deep into the mangrove forest. It is actually a man-made reforestation project that transformed hectares of mudflats into a sustainable eco-park.

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This man-made mangrove forest is a solid proof that with the help of the community, nature can be nurtured and as a sign of its gratitude to mankind, it nurtures the people back.

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As you stroll on the bamboo trail, beautifully arranged mangrove will delight your eyes, the smell of fresh and clean air will fill your nostril as light wind caresses your skin that will leave a comforting feeling on your being, the swaying tree breeze and chirping birds’ sound music to your ears.

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This place is home to different species of mangrove trees and it serves as a sanctuary for various types of birds and marine species.

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Blue that illuminates the color of the sky and color the sea, green that painted the plants and forest, brown that gives a melancholic effect to the solid ground and yellow, the color of the sun that is the main source of light are the colors of nature that provides an antidote to the gloomy soul. This place will never fail to amaze the nature lover out there.

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At the end of this wooden bamboo trail, you will be greeted by the sea. You have a sandbar on the opposite side where you can walk or kayak for a fee.There’s a rest area for weary tourist after a long walk. A small store is also available for those who whose craving for something to eat or refreshments.

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Other features in the park includes a watchtower, souvenir shop, canteen, massage area, charcoal briquetting, picnic huts and a Center for International Mangrove Studies. This place is now considered as one of the must-visit spots in Kalibo. For those looking to have a quite time to commune with nature, the Bakhawan Eco-Park is the perfect place to go to.

DARANAK FALLS escapade

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“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” -Ibn Battuta

I was really captivated the moment I laid my eyes on this enchanting waterfalls. The pristine, clear water that flows directly from mountain top that turns to a beautiful shade of blue as it touches the deep catching basin will leave you breathless.

The long and tiring journey I had was instantly forgotten. I know for sure that this breathtaking view is just worth it. Though, I can only count on my fingers the falls I’ve been to, this place is really stunning and worth telling.

DARANAK FALLS is one of the flagship destinations of Tanay and is a popular summer getaway for locals and tourists from in and out of the country. This 14-meter high falls nestles calmly at the foot of the Tanay mountains.

dara1We threw ourselves under the tempting waterfalls though we can’t swim. Who can say no and resist its charm? The rubber tube saves the day for non-swimmer to still plunge in and enjoy this natural wonder. The refreshing cold, fresh, surging water of the falls will surely makes all the weariness in our body go away.

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The big smile on my friend’s face who joined me in this adventure is so contagious

This place is preserved with the natural vegetation, complemented with ponds, and rivers cascading through elaborate tropical trees and plants.

d2.jpgd4.jpgd1This natural pool makes a perfect place to relax, unwind, spend quality time with your family and friends and to just to commune with nature.

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A group of mothers having a good time

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A stage father who wants his two sons to post for a good picture with Daranak Falls on the background.

There are available cottages for those who want to have a picnic. There’s also stores, carenderias (small restaurant) and souvenir shops inside. The cleanliness and orderliness of the falls is strictly maintained by the local government tourism office.

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How to get there?

From Starmall (Jeep/FX) Terminal, Shaw Boulevard. ride a (Jeep/FX) bound to Tanay, Rizal for 58Php, then alight at the Tanay Public Market (Travel time is about 2 hours). Then, at Tanay Public Market, ride a tricycle going to Daranak Falls for 150 Php one way.

Not your typical Bakasyonista in Aklan

The thought of going back to my parents’ hometown AKLAN caused a stir in me for two things: I’m raring to embark on a new adventure and to get some inspiration for my stories and to have a breath of fresh air I’ve been dreaming for so long.

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Boracay Island is part of Malay municipality in Aklan province. Photo credit to Phillip Kimpo Jr.

Though been there several times, I only managed to go to Boracay Island and the province capital Kalibo. I was young and penniless back then and I just go along with my parents’ itinerary. But unforntunately staying at home to reconnect with their long lost relatives and childhood friends is their thing. (But what is a vacation after all if you will just stay at home) Our stay is also short-lived, the longest I can remember is just for five days because my parents work demands them to go back.

But everything is different now.

Before our trip, I spent sleepless nights searching for good places to visit in Aklan. I made a promise that this will be one of the best vacations of my life since money is not a problem! I will go to undiscovered places known only by the locals, indulge to a wonderful experience of motorcycle ride as I tour around the province, taste local cuisine and join in the dance parade of the very popular Ati-atihan festival.

I’ll write all my travel stories here.

My Adventure in Mt. Balagbag

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It was love at first climb. I didn’t know that climbing a mountain could be so thrilling, captivating and awe-inspiring not until I had my first climb in the Mountain of Gethsemane years ago. Since then, I always find myself dreaming to be on mountain top again, I missed the gentle touch of the wind as it caresses my skin, the deafening sound of silence while I’m savoring few hours of freedom and solitude.

Two days before New Year kicks in, I decided to climb Mt. Balagbag. I just wanted to be far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, to have some quiet time to clear my mind, to reflect and to think about the year that is about to end so I can start 2016 fresh and new without any excess and unwanted baggage.

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Enjoying my quiet time while admiring the captivating view on top.

For a beginner like me, Mt. Balagbag is the best option to start off. They say it’s the easiest trail that one can try before trying out other mountains that require expert mountain climbing skills because its trail is wide and long. But my journey going up was not that easy for the road is a bit steep and rocky (things are really easier said than done).

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Just keep on going! Difficult road often leads to beautiful destination.

Mt. Balagbag becomes a haven for many mountain bikers because of its trail.  It is also a popular hiking destination favored for its proximity to Metro Manila since its only located in Rodriguez Rizal.

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Enjoying my journey. It’s long and tiring but everything will be worth it when I reach the top.

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Expect the unexpected. Although it had a forested past. Mt Balagbag has now deforested area.

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The shade of this small, lone tree became my temporary refuge from the scorching sun

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Every cloud has a silver lining. I’m almost there!

The peak of the mountain is a plus factor why many mountain bikers are attracted to go there. At the peak of the mountain is where the “helipad” can be seen. A helipad at the peak of a mountain is literally like a helipad where helos can easily land.

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The Helipad. The gigantic stage on the summit!

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I conquered Mt. Balagbag! Kudos to me! But the dark clouds that cover the sky are not so welcoming!

Being part of the Sierra Madre range, Mt. Balagbag stands in the middle of Central and Southern Luzon and boasts a summit that offers a spectacular view of different horizons: From Malabon stretching to Manila and Makati’s cityline and extending as far as Parañaque and Baywalk.

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The view is just simply breathtaking

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Overlooking the city!

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Mountains are everywhere! Sierra Mader, Mt. Arayat, Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Tagapo, Mt. Maranat

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I’m on top of the world!

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Yours truly and my brother who made this climb possible and the man behind all my pictures.

After enjoying the breathtaking view, sweet serenity and moment of tranquility all good things must come to an end, my adventure here must also end. I wasn’t able to explore the whole place more because I need to go back home for I have piles of work waiting for me. I’m looking forward to go back to this place to stay overnight and enjoy star gazing and discover the hidden beauty of Mt. Maranat and the other neighboring mountains.

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Going back to where it all started. I’m going home!

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Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, keep nothing but memories.

What other things to do here?

Mt. Balagbag doesn’t only boast its beautiful mountain range but also its waterfalls and rivers that pave way for the possibility to traverse to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan or other barangays of Rodriguez, Rizal. You also have an option to stay overnight to see the dazzling city lights, the millions of stars the light up the sky at night, wait for shooting stars, and witness the great view during sunset and sunrise.

How to get there?
Ride a bus bound to SM Fairview Tungko then alight at Jollibee Tungko. At the back of BDO bank in Tungko, there is a jeepney terminal going to Licao-Licao; ride that jeep to Licao-Licao. From Licao-Licao, you may start your trek up to the summit or you may wish to ride tricycle going to the registration area which is actually a 30-minute walk from Licao-Licao.

Registration/Others
First Registration Fee: Php 10.00
Second Registration Fee: Php 20.00
Tour Guide: 400-500 pesos (but not required)

Thanks for reading! Follow me to keep updated of my next adventure!

 

La Mesa Ecopark: My Temporary Escape

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Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

-excerpt from Desiderata


Once in a while it’s nice to be quiet and be at peace with yourself, to commune with nature and feel sweet serenity, to have a temporary break, do something different and do what you love to do.

For the time being, I’ll put the nagging voice inside of me of my to-do list and deadlines on mute. I’ll free myself of the feeling that I’m always racing against time. I just want a breath of fresh air and I just want to do the things that inspire me.

As much as my heart desires to go to a faraway land, I need to hold my horses because I don’t have much time on my hands. All I need is just a short trip. After battling where to go for hours for my nature tripping. I made a decision to discover what Metro has to offer. Then, I started hitting the road..

Thirty minutes away from home by jeep. I found myself lost and wandering in a residential area in Quezon City, along Commonwealth Ave just to fulfill my mission for today–a day of fun and adventure. I tried to recall a distant memory years back when I was here. I looked for unfamiliar traces that will lead me to my desire destination-my ‘safe haven’.

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Hope arose when the big signage of La Mesa Eco park came in to my view. “I’m almost there!” I uttered cheerfully with a big smile on my face while catching my breath because of the long and tiring walk I’ve gone through. I continued the trail and walked on steel bridge with hanging plans and under the calm bamboo roofs. And without me realizing it, its not yet the main entrance to the Eco park, more walks to go. It’s now slowly creeping me the thought that I should have took the tricycle for convenience than to walk and personify my melancholy state.

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Hidden wonders unfold before my eyes as I walked further into the Eco park (it’s not really bad thing at all to walk), it became reality that I was alone and surrounded by nature. The earthy smell of new-mown grass filled my nostril; the light wind caressing my skin left a soothing feeling on my being, the swaying tree breeze and chirping birds’ sound music to my ears. Then finally, after a very long journey. Here I am again.

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La Mesa Eco park is a 33-hectare public park located right outside the natural boundaries of the watershed and 40 meters below the reservoir. This is a sanctuary when you want to feel the nature amidst the noise of the city. It provides healthful outdoor recreation and a true forest experience. If you’ve always wanted to come here but have no idea of what to do, let me give you the activities that you can do:

1. Enjoy true forest experience

Be captivated with a sight to behold. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life here lies a wonderful scenery of tall trees, different species of plants that will really take your breath away. You can enjoy sightseeing and nature tripping under the shade of trees.

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The picturesque view of the lagoon

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Enjoy the feeling of being alone and be surrounded by nature

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Butterfly Haven. A butterfly sanctuary that dazzle visitors with these exquisite flying gems’ glorious hues and graceful elegance.

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Stairway to heaven. Get a glimpse of the scenic view of the entire La Mesa Eco park and dam as you climb the 100+ steps stairs.

2. Relax and Unwind

These cottages provides one with a chance to reflect in solitude or the ecstatic feeling if you choose to bond and spend time with your family and friends.

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3. Experience fun and adrenaline rush 

Aside from picnicking, the following are the activities that you can do:

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Zipline. Feel the momentary rush and thrill of the ride and be captivated with the breathtaking view that awaits you on top.

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Horse back riding. Who says it’s easy? The guide told me that this tamed horse will give me an amazing tour of the park. But honestly, I almost had a ​heart attack every time this horse will move an inch. I’ll give myself a credit though since it was my first time.

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Bungee Fun. I didn’t have the courage to try it because of the fear that instead of fun it might be a nightmare and ruined my mission today. I had a not so-good experience with this kind of activity that still lingers on my head until now.

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Paint ball. If you’re on war mode. Try this thrilling paintball activity with your friends! I’m sad that I wasn’t able to try this activity because I go here alone.

Wall climbing and Archery are no longer available when I go here. But for those who are not into adventurous activities you can try:

Biking. It’s for free, if you bring your own bike. There are rentals, but you can only use their designated biking area and you cant go around the park.

Boating and Fishing. Experience and enjoy a paddle boat ride. There is a small lake you can boat around in but as of posting, it is closed because of a construction going on.

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Swimming. The swimming pool facility that accommodates visitors looking to cool down while having fun.

If you’re planning to go here, you can bring food and you can bring anything you want!

For more information regarding La Mesa Ecopark, check out their website. You can also just call the following numbers (don’t forget to add +63 if calling from outside the country, or +02 if calling from outside Manila): 430-4051, 430-5207, and 430-5207 (telefax).

The entrance to the park is P40 for QC residents (with proof of residence), P20 for Quezon City students (with valid ID), and P50 for everyone else. Children below 3 feet are free, as well as senior citizens who are residents of Quezon City.