Quezon City is a huge city. That was the reason why we had to break it up into two separate “Explore Manila!” #PencilWalks so as to cover MOST of its interesting spots. I have to admit though that there are still some tourist and historical spots that we have to cover especially those that are “out-of-the-way” in terms of its locations. I mean, we still have to cover the Maginhawa Food Strip, the Tandang Sora and Biak-Na-Bato Shrines, the La Mesa Eco Park, etc.
Again, the traveller in me, had me checking out these destinations every now then through what I call “Burst Trips”. It is basically my own term for spur-of-the-moment kind of trips. One where I find myself driving to the place during my free time. In this segment of my blog, I plan to write about these “trips” where I get to check out destinations that we failed to cover during our “Explore Manila!” activities.
Let me kick it off with the Balara Filters Park.
Balara Filters Park
The first time that I mentioned that Balara Filters Park was part of “Explore Manila!” itinerary, an IG friend asked me if it was actually safe to go there. For those who are not familiar with the place, the mere mention of Balara incites a notion that the place is full of hooligans. But for us who have been there, we can dispel the rumors.
Balara Filters Park is a 60-hectare park in Quezon City. It was opened to the public in 1953 under the joint auspices of the city and the Manila Water, making it one of the oldest recreational parks in Kyusi. It occupies part of the filtration plant complex of the company where water, from La Mesa Dam, is treated for human consumption. At present, the complex boasts of Art Deco buildings and recreational facilities making it a popular weekend destination among locals.
Fountain of Bernardine
Greeting visitors at the entrance of the Balara Filters Park is the Fountain of Bernardine. It features a lady holding a water vessel with cherubims surrounding her at the base of the fountain. The fountain serves as your first indicator that you are entering a water treatment facility/park.
Turning left from the Fountain of Bernardine leads you directly to the Windmill Park. A huge dilapidated water tank marks the spot and the actual park is located behind it. A recreational area stands adjacent to the park where one can have picnics under the shades of trees. It overlooks the actual treatment facility of Manila Waters. You can also find the Manosa Hall in the same area.
The Windmill Park is located behind the big water tank. Do not expect much as years of neglect can be seen on its facilities. The park is open to the public. A lone windmill stands at the far end of the park hence the name. The windmill was a smaller water tank that was in use previously and when the bigger one was constructed, it was decided to “convert” the smaller one into a windmill. I guess, it is the only windmill in Quezon City. Now, I may be wrong on this assumption.
Directly under it is a cabana that has deteriorated during the past years. Again, neglect has played a role and the cabana is not as appealing as it is intended it to be. Adjacent to the windmill is a bust and a memoriam… to whom? I really cannot figure out as it was also neglected.
The only properly “maintained” feature of the park is the pool/pond bearing a lady on a carriage pulled by a carabao. Little is mentioned about the artwork or its relevance to the park hence I cannot expound further about the sculpture.
Next to the Windmill Park is another enclosed park designed for kids – the Gideon Playground. The open space and greens is very conducive for kids to run and play around.
But then again, the playground was neglected that all its facilities for kids were already rusty and not fit to be used. It was sad to see that a place like this could have been an alternative weekend hang-out for Quezon City residents. But since little attention was given, we can only imagine how kids played around in the area during its earlier years.
Grotto / Amphitheater / Worker’s Memorial
Driving further down the road, we reached a nature amphitheater. The amphitheater faces a filtration facility and a memorial dedicated to workers who died during the construction of the complex. The place is a great place to just sit still and enjoy the cool weather under the shade of trees.
A couple of steps away is a grotto in the midst of nature. Again, the place is conducive for moments of reflection. So after being one with nature and putting yourself in deep reflection, you can then proceed to offer a short thanksgiving prayer to the Lord at the grotto.
MWSS Pools / Escoda Hall / Orosa Hall
Just a few meters away from the amphitheatre is the Balara Filter Plant. The design of the building shows the age of the building. I guess it is one of the very first buildings in the complex.
Across the plant is one of the well-kept facilities of the Balara Filters Park, a sprawling pool facility. Surprised? I was surprised when I saw the facility that houses two adult pools and one kiddie pool. It is Quezon City's best kept secret and it actually reminded me of Pansol, Laguna. The pools are surrounded by the Art Deco Halls, Escoda and Orosa, that are also rented out to the public.
Post Kyusi Trip Notes
The Balara Filters Park is a place that dispels misconceptions while giving sweet surprises to its visitors. The community park feel is proof that it is an abode for those who want some peace and quiet self or family time at the heart of the city. It contradicts the notion that Balara is a place of hooligans. Interestingly, the pool facilities can be a quick escape to the summer heat, giving you the Laguna-feel.
Too bad though that not all facilities are well-taken cared of. If the local government focuses on developong it as a well-maintained park, the Balara Filters Park can be a great alternative to both QC Memorial Circle and La Mesa Eco Park.
Getting there: If you are coming from QC Circle, you can take a jeep that goes inside the UP Campus. You go down at the Vinzon's Hall Stop and walk from there It is located behind Vinzon's Hall. Alternatively, you can also take the UP Campus-Katipunan Jeep along Aurora Boulevard. The jeep passes along the main entrance to the park.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.