Move Forward and Never Be Still

Reuniting with Mother Nature at Makiling Botanical Gardens

Reuniting with Mother Nature at Makiling Botanical Gardens

Living in the city takes its toll in everyone. How I long my frequent traveling days when seeing the beach and mountains are a regular thing almost every month. Recently, I decided that communing with nature should be done every now and then to compensate my increasing I-wanna-see-blue-waters-and-breathe-in-fresh-air callings. 

I searched for nearby sites where greens are not only abundant but economical as well. Sure thing, Makiling Botanical Gardens is just an hour drive away from where I live. If you’re from Manila and commuting, I estimate it would be two hours. Well, it will depend where you are coming from.

Makiling Botanical Gardens is located within UPLB, Los Banos in Laguna. If you are bringing a car, you have to surrender your license to the guard gate and you will be provided with a number in return. Don’t lose this as you will need it to get back your ID. Ironic that public jeeps ply through the complex and if you’re on commute, they really do not inspect the passengers! 

Anyway, we drove through and followed Google maps and we were in front of the garden’s gate in no time. UPLB truly brings out the nature-lover in me as I began imagining living by the mountainside, with a nice cottage and lots of cats and plants around me. I was secretly praying that it was open since it closes sometimes dues to events. So if you’re planning to visit, make sure to check their FB page if for any updates. 

We paid 60 Php per person (seniors and PWD have discount) and were asked to sign in a log book. I noticed that there was only one visitor prior to us. The nice lady requested us to jot down our number (I guess for emergency in case we get lost in the woods haha). Only one number for the two of us. She gave us two park pamphlets which shows the trail map, some information about the gardens and reminded us the trail is only open until 2 PM. I guess she meant that we should be going out/back by 2 PM. Though I see that the poster read park is open between 8 AM – 4 PM.

I had visited the gardens with friends four years prior. It was quite a long time ago so seeing nature up close seemed a bit surreal for me. I did not realize how big forest trees are. Or how calm the place was. I marveled at how straight some of the tree’s barks were. I was delighted seeing a lizard scamper through the forest floor. Seemingly undisturbed by our presence.

Bringing in your own food and drinks is allowed at the park (good thing!). Just be mindful of your own trash and respect the forest. We had our quick lunch at the designated eating area. The area appeared unused, but we saw a group on one of the tables. The area was fully covered by canopies, so we were sheltered from the raindrops that were falling here and there. The tables were wet and littered with dead leaves. Good thing that I had tissue paper with me to use for wiping.

After eating and resting for a bit we began our forest-y adventure. As we walked through the rugged paths, I noticed that Mother Nature is slowly but surely taking over the old structures inside. The area was established in 1960s. So seeing older architecture was a feast for my eyes. There were labels in every area for visitors to see. As I was reading what was written, I wondered how old those labels were.

We circled on a trail before heading out back since the rains were coming in frequently. I realized that it was the path I visited with my friends. When we exited the paved path, another group of visitors emerged from the trees from the opposite side. I reviewed our map later on and realized that they visited the one with the waterfalls and a picnic area. Too bad that I did not accurately plan where we should’ve headed. Sitting besides a waterfall in the forest sounded like a lovely idea. <3

I stared at the map and realized that the park was enormous, and a quick day hike will not suffice. I already have a plan of heading back. I was determined to explore the other side, eager for our future adventure. After some mandatory snaps, I told my companion that we head out back before it began pouring again. 

We exited the gardens at about 1:30 PM. We spent more than an hour inside. I was already missing the trees and the little birds that we came across. We headed for the restrooms before driving back to the city. Smiling at the promise of a new adventure soon. <3

How to Get Here
By Commute: Ride any bus bound for Sta. Cruz/Pagsanjan. Ask the driver to drop you off at the intersection leading to UPLB. Wait for ikot jeepneys bound for the campus. Ask the driver which jeep will pass by the gardens first before boarding.
Private vehicle: Google maps is your friend. Surrender your driver’s license at the gate. Get your number which you will use to claim your ID back.

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