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Magat Dam Magat Dam in Ramon, Isabela used to be the largest dam in the Philippines back when it was built in 1983. The controversial San Roque Dam (featured previously) has since eclipsed it in both structural and reservoir size in 2004. Magat Dam generates 360 megawatts of electricity (with a water head of 81 meters high) and supplies irrigation water for approximately 85,000 hectares of farmland in Isabela and surrounding areas. The dam was constructed at a cost of 6. 5 billion pesos and consists of 3. kilometers of rock-fill construction. The dam and its watershed is managed by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), while the National Power Corporation (NPC) managed the hydroelectric plant, before the plant was turned over to SN Aboitiz Power Inc. in April 2007 as part of the privatization of power plants under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001. Like the San Roque Dam, Magat Dam had its share of controversies, issues, and problems. For one, the reservoir inundated the traditional lands of the Ifugao tribes.

Second, the useful lifespan of the dam was shortened from 50 years to around 35 years because of increased sedimentation in the reservoir (aggravated by the massive 1990 Luzon earthquake) and damage to the dam itself. Finally, Magat River, which is the river dammed, forms the boundary between the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela. Well, you can correctly guess that there’s a dispute between Ifugao and Isabela regarding with the dam: Ifugao is contesting the tax proceeds from the privatization of the hydroelectric plant and the compromise reached was that the two provinces would share equally in the tax revenue.

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Magat Dam is also one of the prominent tourist spots in Isabela. The Magat Dam Tourism Complex promotes ecotourism with various watersports activities in the Magat Dam reservoir. If you look at the Google Maps view of the dam, you can see the extent of the reservoir (4,450 hectares). And if you look about two kilometers downstream (east) from the dam, you can see Maris Dam, a subsidiary dam that helps regulate water level below the main dam for hydroelectric purposes. Why Maris? Well, Maris stands for Magat River Irrigation System. http://www. vistapinas. com/article/magat-dam Ambuklao Dam

The Ambuklao Hyroelectric Plant is located in the mountains of Bokod, Benguet and is about 36 kilometers northeast of Baguio City. The plant was designed to provide 75 MW (megawatts) of energy to the Luzon grid. It utilizes the Agno River which is the longest waterway in the Island of Luzon. During the 50’s the Ambuklao dam was the highest and biggest in the Far East. It is made of earth and rockfull which measures 129 meters in height and 452 meters in length. The elevation of its crest is 758 meters and the roadway that runs through the top of the dam has an elevation of 756 meters.

There are 8 Tainter radial gates at the dam’s spillway. Each spillway measures 12. 5 meters by 12. 5 meters and is 127 meters in length. The gross storage capacity of the dam’s reservoir is 327,170,000 cubic meters and it has a usable storage capacity of 258,000,000 cubic meters. The drainage area is 686 square kilometers and is 11 km long with a maximum width of 1 km. Upon the direction of Philippine President Manuel A. Roxas, the National Power Corporation, in cooperation with Westinghouse International, took a survey of the country’s hydroelectric potential and prepared the Philippine Power Program in 1948.

It’s major undertaking was the Ambuklao Power Project. Construction of the project began in July 1950 when President Elpidio R. Quirino was at the helm of the Philippine government. It took six years and 5 months to complete the construction. Operation of this hydroelectric facility finally started on Dec. 23, 1956 during the administration of President Ramon F. Magsaysay. Selected as the contractor for the dam’s civil works was the Guy F. Atkinson Company and the Harza Engineering Company of Chicago was hired as the engineering consultant.

Aside from generation of electric energy, the water held by the dam is used to irrigate the agricultural fields of Pangasinan. The dam helps minimize floods by absorbing the high peak flows by releasing water over longer periods. The Ambuklao Hydroelectric power facility stands as a symbol of one of the biggest accomplishments in power development by the Philippine government, an engineering feat which Filipinos are proud of. http://www. cityofpines. com/ambuklao. html Ambuklao Dam Province: Benguet 16° 27. 587N 120° 44. 733E

The Biggest rock filled dam in Asia, Ambuklao Hydroelectric Dam is considered one of the huge projects that happened in the Cordillera Area, one of the first two Dams constructed along Agno River (the other is Binga DAM) during the early 1950’s. Concerning it’s hydraulic structure, NPC’s Ambuklao Dam, have a height of nearly 100 m in the upstream of the Agno. http://www. waypoints. ph/detail_gen. php? wpt=ambukd Ambuklao Dam, a beautiful monstrosity? From a distance, Ambuklao Dam in Bokod, Benguet looks like a mirage. An apparition amidst the ruggedness of this part of the Cordillera.

But it’s thunderous waters crashing below the dam’s gates nudges you back to reality. The long uphill climb from Baguio to Ambuklao Dam is one of the spectacular routes in Benguet, but probably second only to that of Halsema Highway minus the redolent stench of chicken dung along the road. Pantabangan Dam can be seen along the route. Deep vales and soaring misty mountains just take one’s breath away and at the same time, the crisp cool air perfumed by stands of pine trees makes it one of the most enjoyable and unforgettable routes. Just be careful after the rain as soil is loosened and landslides are commonplace.

But then, once you get past these, upon entering the vicinity of Bokod, denuded mountains and silted rivers takes the icing on the cake. That’s why when one get’s a glimpse of Ambuklao Dam, one just has to stop and gaze and contemplate the beautiful monstrosity of such a structure. So alien in its surroundings but provides a respite from all the drab ruggedness. A gap between the mountains where the mighty Agno River used to flow freely has been plugged to become the Ambuklao Dam commissioned in 1956 and is the Philippines’s first hydroelectric power plant that contributes to the Luzon grid.

It irrigates the fields of Pangasinan province in the southwest. Walking through the roadway at the top of the dam is quite an experience. You’re but a small entity amidst the gray structure of cement with its series of spillways down below regurgitating volumes upon volumes of water that comes crashing down, misty with aquaeous sprays. The dam’s catch basin is perhaps a welcome site in Bokod with its emerald still waters providing a sharp contrast against the denuded and parched mountains surrounding it. The wind is not as strong when we were there but is enough to generate clean ripples on the surface.

This is also a good reason to indulge in kayaking which is offered here. Multicolored plastics that when on the water, provides a pleasant and colorful scenery. Not adventurous enough? One can just walk up the dam and contemplate the gush of water. The vertical lines formed as it surges down is zen like. Nevermind if it ends in a roiling break and foam and sprays. http://langyaw. com/2010/06/28/ambuklao-dam-a-beautiful-monstrosity/ La Mesa Dam The La Mesa Dam is a dam in Quezon City in the Philippines. It is part of the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system, which supplies most of the water supply of Metro Manila.

The La Mesa Dam is an earth dam whose reservoir can hold up to 50. 5 million cubic meters occupying an area of 27 square kilometers. Metro Manila and its surrounding areas are divided into two water concessionaires. Metro Manila and its surrounding areas are divided into two water concessionaires. The water collected in the reservoir is treated on-site by the Maynilad Water Services, and at the Balara Treatment Plant further south by the Manila Water Company. Both water companies are private concessionaires awarded by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the government agency in charge of water supply. Angat Dam

The Angat Reservoir and Dam are located at the Angat River in San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. The facilities were constructed from 1964 to 1967 and have been operational since 1968. They have multi-purpose functions: To provide irrigation to about 31,000 hectares of land in 20 municipalities and towns in Pampanga and Bulacan; To supply the domestic and industrial water requirements of residents in Metro Manila; To generate hydroelectric power to feed the Luzon Grid; and To reduce flooding to downstream towns and villages. The principal river, Angat River, originates from the western flank of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

It then cuts through the mountainous terrain in a westerly direction to the dam site. The elevation within the watershed rises to a maximum of 1,115 meters at the Sierra Madre Mountain range and is lowest at the dam site at 100 meters. It has three major tributaries, namely, the Talaguio, Catmon and Matulid Rivers. The Angat Watershed has a moderate to intensive forest cover and has a drainage area of about 568 square kilometers, which receives an average annual rainfall of about 4,200 millimeters. The Angat Dam is a rockfill dam with a spillway equipped with three gates at a spilling level of 219 meters.

Its storage capacity is about 850 million cubic meters. Water supply to the MWSS is released through five auxiliary turbines where it is diverted to the two tunnels going to the Ipo Dam. Ipo Dam The Ipo Dam is a gravity concrete dam located about 7. 5 kilometers downstream of the Angat Dam near its confluence with the Ipo River in Bulacan. It was completed in January 1984 with a maximum storage capacity of 7. 5 million cubic meters, an increase of about 2,500 million liters per day (MLD) from the old Ipo Dam, which used to be located 200 meters upstream of the new dam.

The spill level of the dam is at an elevation of 101 meters and it has seven radial floodgates. The watershed topography is characterized by mountainous terrain similar to the Angat Reservoir Watershed with moderate forest cover. The watershed has an area of about 70 square kilometers and receives an average annual rainfall of 3,500 millimeters. Tributaries to the Angat River at this section include the Ipo, Sapa Pako and Sapa Anginon Rivers. These tributaries drain into the Angat River from the eastern section of the watershed.

Water from the dam is diverted to the Novaliches Portal and the La Mesa Dam through three intake structures going down to three connecting tunnels into five connecting aqueducts. http://www. daytourph. com/spots_la_mesa. html Province directly to the north of Manila. Bordered to the west by Pampanga Province, and north by Nueva Ecija Province. The history of Bulacan and American influence goes back to 1899 Battle in Bulacan province against Filipino rebels. Malolos Provincial capital, located near Manila Bay Calumpit Town to the northwest of Manila Angat Town in Bulacan. March 8, 1945

Fighter-bombers hit fuel dumps, gun positions, and other targets near Angat. Norzagaray (Norzugaray) Lat 14° 54′ 38NLong121° 2′ 56E Located near the Ipo watershed. American Missions Against Ipo February 25 – June 28, 1945 Ipo Dam This dam over the Ipo River and watershed was defended by Japanese in late 1945. US Army 43rd Infantry Division advanced on Ipo beginning on May 10, 1945. After reaching Hill 815, and securing it on May 12, they push within site of the dam the following day. On May 17, an assault captures the dam intact and enemy resistance in the Ipo area ends two days later. http://www. pacificwrecks. om/provinces/philippines_bulacan. html Binga Dam The Binga Hydroelectric Plant is located at Barrio Binga in Itogon, Benguet Province. It is about 31 kilometers (19. 3 miles) east of Baguio City and 19 kilometers (11. 8 miles) downstream of the Ambuklao Hydroelectric Plant. From Baguio, the hydroelectric plant can be accessed through Itogon or by taking the same route that leads to Ambuklao Dam in Bokod. The route through Itogon is much shorter and has a better maintained roadway. The construction of the Binga Hydroelectric Plant started in August of 1956 with the Philippine Engineers Syndicate, Inc. taking charge of the civil works.

It took 3 years and 7 months to complete the project. Full operation of this facility began in March 31, 1960 – just about 3 years and 3 months after the Ambuklao Hydroelectric Plant was completed. The dam which was constructed along the Agno River is 215 meters (705. 4 feet) long and 107. 37 meters (352. 3 feet) high with a 94. 50-meter (310 feet) long spillway. It is made of earth and rockfill and has 6 Tainter gates measuring 12. 5 meters by 12 meters (41 feet by 39. 4 feet) with hoists that are motor driven. The crest of the dam has an elevation of 586 meters (1,972. 7 feet) and on top of the dam is a roadway which is 8 meters (26. feet) wide. To generate electric energy, the dam relies on a reservoir which has a drainage area of 936 square kilometers (361 square miles). The length of the reservoir at its widest portion is about 2 kilometers and the distance of backwater from the dam measures 10 kilometers. http://www. cityofpines. com/binga. html Binga dam due for rehab LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Binga dam, located in Benguet are up for rehabilitation during the summer season, this according to a message from Mike Hosillos to the Baguio Chronicle recently. Hosillos, corporate communications officer of SN Aboitiz Power Benguet Inc. (SNAP-Benguet Inc. said the company plans to operate the Binga Plant until the end of March and will perform major plant repairs on April and May during the summer. We timed the rehabilitation during summer since the water level is at its lowest within the year, which is needed to be able to for us to work safely on the plant, Hosillos opined. We are suspending operations during the period and will resume operations on June when the rainy season starts, Hosillos added. Ambuklao Dam, on the other hand is under preservation by the National Power Corporation since 1999 due to technical problems and is still in the process of rehabilitation, he said.

The Binga Dam produces around 100 megawatts of power with its operations. Around 75 megawatts is expected to be generated if the Ambuklao Dam will be operational. SNAP Benguet is a joint venture between Aboitiz Group of Cebu and Norway’s SN Power. They will be using Carbon Credits sold via the Kyoto Protocols Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to fund the rehibilitation of the plant. SN Aboitiz won the two plants with a bid of $325M last November 28, 2007. SN Aboitiz will pay at least 40% of its bid which will be used by the government to pay up the National Power Corporation’s debts, as specified in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

Aside from the Ambuklao and Binga Dams, SNAP also operates the 360megawatt Magat Dam, located between Ifugao Province and Isabela. —larry madarang http://www. baguiochronicle. com/2010/02/binga-dam-due-for-rehab. html? Ambuklao-Binga The Ambuklao and Binga hydroelectric power plants are being privatized as a package through an international tender process, as part of the privatization program under a comprehensive sector reform law, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). At privatization, expected to occur in June 2008, the plants will be owned by SN Aboitiz Power Benguet, Inc. SNAPB), a joint-venture between SN Power Invest (SN Power) of Norway and Aboitiz Equity Venture (AEV) of the Philippines. IFC’s proposed investment, a loan, will be in parallel with additional financing from Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and local banks and will support the privatization. The proposed IFC investment will partly finance the privatization and rehabilitation of the 75 MW Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant and the 100 MW Binga hydroelectric power plant, currently owned by National Power Corporation (NPC).

The rehabilitation will re-commission the Ambuklao plant, which has been shut down due to silt problems, upgrade the Binga plant, and increase the combined capacity by 50 MW in total (30 MW for Ambuklao and 20 MW for Binga) from 175 MW to 225 MW. They will operate as peaking plants, supplying power to the Luzon grid for about five hours daily. There are no electric transmission system constraints with regard to the expected higher generation levels.

The project company, SNAPB, is expected to take over the hydropower facilities in June 2008, and will put in place new management procedures, address technical issues such as sedimentation and dam safety and implement the rehabilitation of both plants. SNAPB will also enter into a separate agreement with the Government, for those facilities that will remain under public ownership, to cover the operation and maintenance of the dams and appurtenant structures, formulation of operations manuals, formation of an oversight committee, and maintaining the integrity of the water levels in the reservoirs.

Responsibility for the watershed management will remain with the Government. http://www. ifc. org/ifcext/spiwebsite1. nsf/1ca07340e47a35cd85256efb00700cee/AB8FEE51AD398E74852576BA000E2BD6 The Binga hydropower plant is currently in operation but with a need of upgrade The plant Binga is built immediately downstream of the Ambuklao hydropower plant and of the Binga Dam. The plant was commissioned in 1960 with a capacity of 100 MW. The 107 m high rock fill dam with an inclined clay core creates an 87 MCM reservoir.

The water conduit consists of an intake tower, an 850 m long and 6 m in diameter wide headrace tunnel equipped with a surgical tank and a 2 km long and 6 m in diameter wide tailrace tunnel equipped with surge chamber. Operation The Binga plant is currently in operation, but with a need of upgrade. The reservoir of Binga is silted. Usable storage capacity is about 13 MCM – corresponding to about 10 operating days at 5 peak hours. The electricity generated at Binga, about 350 GWh annually, is traded at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market. To maximize revenues from the plant, the output is traded mainly during peak hours.

Developement The building of a new intake is under examination and all major power components will either be replaced or go through a major overhaul. The overhaul and upgrade period will last for 3-4 years replacing 1 turbine a year during the dry season. The fully overhauled and upgraded plant will have 4 turbines of 30MW each with a combined average annual production of about 419GWh. Sustainable development SN Aboitiz Power has established a Corporate Social Responsibility fund to enable strategic development projects in all Binga’s host communities.

The Fund focuses on supporting self-sustainable and long term projects within Environmental Management, Eco-tourism, Healthcare, Education and Social Infrastructure. Watershed management programs are currently being implemented to help protect the forests and other areas within the impact area of the plant. Binga already provides employment and revenues to the local community. http://www. snpower. com/projects-and-plants/projects-under-developement/binga/default. aspx History of Ipo Dam In 1920’s, the Ipo Dam was constructed using water resource from the Angat basin.

By 1938, the treatment capacity was increased to 200 MLD for an urban population of 900,000 people. During World War II, the Japanese occupied the Ipo Dam area. After months of fighting on May 16, 1945, the largest concentration of fighter bombers yet to be assembled on one target in the Philippines made a coordinated attack against Japanese installations in the Ipo Dam area. In the following three days the group flew together and distinguished itself by its formation flying, air discipline and excellent bombing. Ipo Dam and the surrounding area were successfully secured without much damage.

The initial infrastructure of the MWSS consisted of a pumping system from the Marikina River to an underground reservoir in San Juan. By 1909, the capacity of the system was increased up to 92 MLD by the addition of pumping facilities and the construction of Wawa Dam. This new Ipo Dam was completed in January 1984. It is 200 meters downstream from the old Ipo dam. The new Ipo Dam has a maximum storage capacity of 7. 5 million cubic meters, an increase of about 2,500 million liters per day (MLD) from the old Ipo Dam. The spill level of the dam is at an elevation of 101 meters and it has seven radial floodgates.

The Ipo Dam serves as an intermediate intake and water is then conveyed through three intake structures at the dam going to three connecting tunnels which water from the three tunnels flows to three settling basins in Bicti, Norzagaray. The watershed topography of the Ipo Dam is characterized by mountainous terrain similar to the Angat Reservoir Watershed. Today 70% of the Ipo watershed is deforested. The watershed has an area of about 70 square kilometers and receives an average annual rainfall of 3,500 millimeters.

It is believed that it will take about 20 years to rehabilitate the Ipo watershed and will need 1. 5 million tree seedlings. http://ipodam. t35. com/ Bulacan: Ipo Watershed, Angat Dam and the La Mesa Ecopark… Save the Ipo Watershed! The Ipo Watershed is part of a larger water system which includes Angat and La Mesa. It serves as the major water source of Metro Manila. There’s been some buzz about the Ipo Watershed lately, particularly from the UP Mountaineers, who have been advocating its protection, especially from kaingin, and other factors that are leading to the rapid loss of its forest cover.

So when we found out about their tree-planting activity, we didn’t have to think twice and found ourselves on the road to Norzagaray, Bulacan. Unless you make prior arrangements, you may not be allowed inside the Ipo Dam area. We parked right by the dam. First thing I noticed was an NHI marker commemorating the Battle of Ipo Dam during the Second World War. We walked to the other side of the dam where boats were waiting to take us to the activity site. It was about 3 kilometers upstream and the ride was roughly 30 minutes. Don’t miss remnants of the older dam 200 meters from the current Ipo Dam since that’s industrial heritage!

It was wonderful seeing the clean water and lush cover of trees. But just several weeks back, there had been signs of illegal logging and kaingin in the area. It’s really stupid what some people are doing! Imagine losing this watershed and ultimately, the water supply of Metro Manila. From where our boat docked, it was a really short hike up a hill to the reforestation area. The activity was almost done when we arrived. But we managed to plant a few seedlings before hiking further up to check out the wonderful view of the Angat River from the top.

The group was able to plant 475 seedlings that day. But it’s a far cry from what illegal loggers are cutting-down deep in the Sierra Madre where no one can see them. We didn’t stay long since the event was almost done so we decided to ask our boat to bring us further upstream so that we could check out the Angat Dam. That was another thirty minutes upstream. The dam is actually a rockfill dam and you won’t be able to recognize it easily since it’s covered by grass. The concrete structure you see is actually the spillway with three gates.

Again, the river offered us refreshing views. It was a long ride back to Ipo Dam, about 45 minutes to one hour if I remember it right. As soon as we got back, we made our way to San Jose del Monte for a late lunch. We had one last stop before calling it a day, and that’s the La Mesa Dam. And to see it, you had to go to the La Mesa Ecopark. We had a hard time finding the entrance which is in a village along Commonwealth Avenue. One way to get in is through Winston Street. The bad news was we could not take photos of the dam itself for security reasons!

That was a big disappointment. But we got to enjoy some of the activities in the park though such as boating in the lagoon and the riding the zipline which was really fun! We spent PHP50 each for entrance (QC residents and students get a discount so don’t forget to bring your IDs), PHP200 for a 30-minute boat ride, and PHP100 each for the zipline. Not bad! And with that, we completed our tour of Metro Manila’s sources of water! Read more in Pinoy Mountaineer. http://www. ivanhenares. com/2008/08/ipo-watershed-angat-dam-and-la-mesa. html La Mesa Dam and Ecopark (Quezon City)

With the increased popularity of ecotourism these days, going to the La Mesa Dam and EcoPark is an expected choice. Yet it’s ironic that we haven’t visited the place even if we work and live near it. So, during the 3 Kings celebration, we decided to have a picnic-lunch at La Mesa. I didn’t think much of the place, a short-lived opinion that vanished into thin air as soon as we arrived. I thought it’s just the same boring patch of green plants and open space. But I was badly mistaken. La Mesa EcoPark is a perfect picnic place and I could say that with confidence even if my ONLY other picnic experience was at the UP Sunken Garden.

There are a number of open areas amidst the trees, shrubs and other greenery. Since we haven’t been to the EcoPark, our first instinct was to grab the first available open space nearest the entrance, thinking that, just like in a parking space during peak times, there might not be an available space up the road. We found out that there are many open areas as you go deeper into the Ecopark. There are picnic tables in a number of places, but we decided to simply put a mat on the ground, under the shade of a tree. It’s rare that I get to lay down in open air, especially in the city.

Now that I’ve done it again, my childhood “fear” of spears raining from the sky came back. The imaginary spears immediately blipped out, though, when someone said that lunch is ready. Faucet/water stations are found all over the place, good for washing hands, plates or anything of that sort. You don’t have to fall in line or walk to the end of the earth just to look for tap water. There are a number of small stalls selling chichirya and meals. Comfort rooms are readily available. The staff go around to get the trash from the trash cans. The place is relatively well maintained, I must say.

Take all that, then add shade, fresh air and cool breeze into the equation, then add the following components: view of the La Mesa Dam (although taking pictures and video of the dam itself is unfortunately not allowed), the Flower Terraces, playgrounds for kids (there’s more than 1 playground), kid’s bikes for rent, boating, rappelling through the zip line across the boating lake (you’ll see one if you look closely at the right side of the boat, photo to the right), fishing, paintball gear and place, and the Butterfly Trail and Hatchery, and what do you get?

Perfect picnic place for the kids (and the oldies). Oh, I almost forgot — there’s a swimming pool, so better come prepared. For those who want to burn calories (or for us who are dreaming of burning fats), there’s a fitness trail. I might just go back someday to try the fitness trail and see if fresh air could help me lose weight faster. More details in directory. The La Mesa Dam and EcoPark is found in Quezon City, which explains why QC residents enjoy a P10-discount in entrance fee. There are a number of entrance/egress from La Mesa, but only one going into the EcoPark is open to the public.

How to get there? From the Quezon Circle (which is near UP-AyalaLand TechnoHub, Trinoma and SM North EDSA), take Commonwealth Avenue past UP, Ever-Gotesco and Sandiganbayan. After the Mangahan Market (to your left), you’ll see Andok’s Litson Manok and KFC outlets (to your right) and MetroBank (to your right). You could turn right in a couple of blocks in that area, all of which will lead you to the EcoPark. Don’t hesitate to ask for directions. How much are the rates? Main entrance fee is P50, but Quezon City residents enjoy a P10-discount.

There are separate fees for the swimming pool (persons above 3 feet — P80; below 3 feet — P40), boating park (P100 for 30 minutes per boat, good for 4 people), Butterfly Trail and Hatchery (P30). There you go. Next time you’re thinking of having a picnic in the middle of the city while enjoying nature at the same time, think of La Mesa EcoPark, located at the La Mesa Dam. http://visitpinas. com/la-mesa-dam-and-ecopark-quezon-city/ La Mesa Watershed Story We always hear “La Mesa” on TV, La Mesa Ecopark, save the La Mesa watershed, etc. No it has nothing to do with tables.

But what exactly is the La Mesa, the issues surrounding it, some piece of its history, and why must we care to preserve it? In a Nutshell The La Mesa Watershed covers a total area of 2,700 hectares, 2,000 hectares of forest lands and 700 hectares of man-made lake that serves as a water reservoir. It is the last forest of its size in Metro Manila and it straddles Quezon City, Caloocan City and Rizal Province. It is a vital link to the water requirements of 12 million residents of Metro Manila considering that 1. 5 million liters of water pass through this reservoir everyday.

A Piece of its History 1968 – Metropolitan Water District (later NWSA, presently the MWSS), owner-manager of La Mesa forest entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with two labor unions – the Kaisahan at Kapatiran ng mga Manggagawa at Kawani sa NWSA (KKMK) and the Balara Employees and Laborers Association. The CBA granted them the right to purchase a 58-hectare tract of land for housing inside the La Mesa (then the Balara watershed), awarded by raffle to 1,411 union members. The employees union bought the property from the MWSS for P3 million.

Water district officials selected an area downstream from the water reservoir, outside the forested part of the 2,700-hectare watershed. But three years of inaction had the KKMK filing a case in 1971, asking the NWSA to finally issue a Deed of Absolute Sale for the awarded 58 hectares. When the case reached the Supreme Court, it “ruled with finality” in favor of the NWSA employees in 1975 – only to have President Marcos issuing a Letter of Instruction transferring the original awarded area to give way to a filtration plant in 1976.

It took another 13 years before the NWSA selected another housing site upstream of the water reservoir which was a bad idea where building upstream meant inevitable pollution downstream. Current Situation There are two threats to the La Mesa watershed that the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources lead by committee chair Senator Pia Cayetano are currently looking into – the proposed 58-hectare housing project for MWSS employees, and the three-hectare executive housing village for the agency’s top officials which is already under construction.

Cayetano said MWSS executives who earlier opposed the construction of a 58-hectare housing project for the agency’s employees, should explain their apparent silence on the housing villas already being built for them. “MWSS officials should come clean on this issue. All this time, they had been issuing statements against the housing project for their rank-and-file employees for posing risks to the watershed,” she said. “But as it turns out, their (executives) own housing project is already in existence and almost ready for occupancy. “It’s not an issue whether the housing project is for ordinary employees or officials. We should look into both projects in view of their potential threat to the watershed, which is the main source of water for Metro Manila’s 12 million residents,” she concluded. http://www. mukamo. com/la-mesa-watershed-story/ Places to go- La Mesa Ecopark Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees To experience and enjoy a paddle boat ride, one once had to trek all the way to Baguio’s Burnham Park to do so.

Now this popularity activity is available right at Quezon City Here, one can enjoy a full-body workout under the shade of trees. The fitness trail has 17 exercise stations and connects to a forested 1. 2 km mountain bike trail. Two hectares of flower terraces. This is actually the dam wall of the reservoir. La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City is the primary source of drinking water of about 12 million Metro Manila residents. The property is owned by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a government agency.

La Mesa Watershed is 2700 hectares, 700 hectares of which is the reservoir and 2000 hectares of which is the surrounding forest. This forest is the last remaining one of its size in Metro Manila and serves as its carbon dioxide sink. La Mesa Watershed, therefore, is vital to the city, not only because it is a primary source of drinking water, but also because its forest functions as the lungs of Metro Manila, providing it with clean air. Due to lack of funds, illegal settling, poaching and logging, La Mesa Watershed came into disrepair and ruin.

In 1999, ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. created Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) and, in partnership with the MWSS, undertook the Save La Mesa Watershed Project. The project aimed to rehabilitate, reforest, preserve and protect La Mesa Watershed. The total area that needed reforestation was 1500 hectares. Today, eight years since the project started, only 158 hectares remain to be planted. Bantay Kalikasan’s strategy of actively involving the general public in the project, through its Adopt/Protect-ATree/ Hectare programs, was key to its success.

To sustain the Save La Mesa Watershed Project, Bantay Kalikasan, in partnership with the MWSS and the Q. C. Government, 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. All revenues generated by La Mesa Ecopark are utilized for the continuous preservation and protection of La Mesa Watershed. La Mesa Ecopark envisions a better environment for our children. Our mission is to spread environmental awareness through education and advocacy.

La Mesa Ecopark is a venue providing for healthful outdoor recreation and a true forest experience. It is a living classroom and laboratory for environmental education and aims to be a center for biodiversity conservation. In 2006, over 280 different schools from all over the country, some coming from as far as Laoag, Bohol and Cebu, trooped to La Mesa Ecopark for their educational school field trips. Today, the park continues to be a popular destination for family outings and picnics; a more healthful alternative to shopping malls.

At La Mesa Ecopark, each member of the family can enjoy varied outdoor activities. La Mesa Ecopark boasts of the following facilities: Lopez Picnic Grounds – Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees. Salt Water Swimming Pool – Probably the only salt water pool that is open to the public. Salt granules are used instead of chlorine making the water safer and less toxic. Superferry Boating Lagoon – To experience and enjoy a paddle boat ride, one once had to trek all the way to Baguio’s Burnham Park to do so.

Now this popular activity is available right here in Quezon City. Fishing Lagoon – Fishing is another very popular to-do at the park. Petron Fitness and Mountain Bike Trail – Here, one can enjoy a full-body workout under the shade of trees. The fitness trail has 17 exercise stations and connects to a forested 1. 2 km mountain bike trail. Shell Flower Terraces – Two hectares of flower terraces. This is actually the dam wall of the reservoir. Ecomuseum – A museum dedicated to environmental education and biodiversity conservation.

Butterfly Trail and Hatchery – An educational walk through the wonderful, colorful world of butterflies. Various pavilions for rent are available for private functions. Overnight camping facilities also available. http://doomet. com/2008/10/24/places-to-go-to-la-mesa-eco-park Magat Dam Hydro-electric Power Plant Right after finishing his official job in San Mateo town, the drive southwards back to Santiago City was interrupted again by Tutubi when he saw the road signs leading to Magat Dam on a road also leading to Ifugao province.

He instructed his driver to turn right on a mostly “rocky” road leading to the dam said to be a popular picnic place for the locals Tutubi’s driver wanted him to buy tilapia grown in cages in the lake but found none selling the fish and so just took a few photos before leaving. According to a sign at Magat Dam, “The Magat Dam Brief History: The construction of the Magat Dam and appurtenant structures, the principal feature of the Magat River Project (MRRP) was authorized by Presidential Decree 693 signed on May 7, 1975 by the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

Implementation of the project was based on the preliminary study conducted in 1973 by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) with the assistance of the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Subsequent detailed and extensive damsite investigation and engineering studies further confirmed the feasibility of what is now known as NIA’s most daring infrastructure project and one of Asia’s biggest dams today. The total project cost is P3. 4B, jointly financed by the Philippine Government and the World Bank.

It was inaugurated on October 27, 1982 by the late President Marcos. It was inaugurated on October 27, 1982 by the late President Marcos. He said ‘This is a truly a day of pride for all those who worked in the project for all our people and our country. ‘” The present hydro-electric power plant is acting in reserve capacity. It only runs when additional power is needed The lake reservoir, created from Magat River, is now used as tilapia farms by some enterprising locals A place where harvested tilapia from the fish cages are unloaded from boats and loaded on jeepneys.

Notice also the low water level of the dam Magat Hydroelectric Power Plant sits at the boundary of Alfonso Lista town of Ifugao (part of the Cordillera Administrative Region) and the town of Ramon, Isabela. Other dams in the Philippines are La Mesa Dam in Quezon City/Rizal province (site of the La Mesa Ecopark), Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, San Roque Dam in Pangasinan, Wawa Dam in Montalban (Rodriguez), Rizal. A similar project can also be found in Laguna with Caliraya Lake(including Lake Lumot) as reservoirs.

Tutubi would also love to visit the engineering wonder of Hoover Dam in Colorado, USA and the Three Gorges Dam in China, currently the world’s largest hydro-electric power plant in the world. How to get there: Directions for those with vehicles: there’s a road going there with direction signs on the highway of Ramon town of Isabela between San Mateo and Santiago City. For those commuting, Magat Dam is a jeepney ride from Santiago City plus a tricycle to the park. A tricycle terminal is located at the corner of the highway in Ramon to take you to the place. ttp://www. backpackingphilippines. com/2008/08/magat-dam-hyroelectric-power-plant. html Dam Nation: A Bloody History of Struggle Against Dams The construction of dams has always been opposed because of their destructive effects on whole communities. Several anti-dam leaders have been killed as a result. The recent devastation by the dams of Luzon proved that they were right all along. By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO MANILA — Macli-ing Dulag is a prominent name in the history of environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights struggles in the Philippines.

He is widely remembered by environmental and indigenous activists for his leadership in the anti-Chico Dam campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chico Dam “would have inundated vast tracts of land in the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao,” wrote Miriam Azurin in an article for Ibon Features in 2002. A leader of the Kalinga tribe of the Cordilleras, Dulag figured prominently in the anti-Chico Dam campaign, forging bodongs (peace pacts) between warring tribes in order to unify them against the World Bank-funded “development” project.

Several times, the Marcos government tried to bribe him in exchange for giving up the struggle. Dulag would lose his life for this. On April 24, 1980, Army soldiers opened fire on his hut; he died on the spot from 10 bullet wounds in the chest and pelvis. In killing him the military hoped to silence opposition to the Chico Dam project. But Dulag’s death only served to “ignite a prairie fire. ” The news of his murder increased projection of the issue, thereby broadening opposition to the Chico Dam which even reached international levels. The wide opposition to the project forced the Marcos government to abandon it.

Unlike Dulag, Nicanor “Ka Kano” delos Santos – a leader of the Dumagats in Tanay, Rizal – did not lose his life in the thick of an anti-dam struggle. His first foray into activism, however, was as one of the protesters against the Kaliwa-Kanan Dam (or Laiban Dam) project in 1983. The dam’s area covers seven villages in Tanay that are home to the Remontado and Dumagat tribes. At the height of the campaign against the Kaliwa-Kanan Dam project, Delos Santos was elected as secretary-general of the Makabayang Samahan ng Katutubong Dumagat (Maskada) and vice-president of the Bigkis at lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan (Balatik).

He would be instrumental in the founding of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp). He was shot dead in December 2001 by Army soldiers while bringing food to fellow participants in what was going to be a caravan for the upcoming commemoration of International Human Rights Day in Antipolo City. The construction of the San Roque Multipurpose Project, which started in 1998, deprived the farmers of San Nicolas, Pangasinan of the Agno River’s overflow, which they had been taking advantage of for irrigation.

Funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and owned by the San Roque Power Corporation, the project required the construction site to be dried up and the river to be diverted. Aside from these, irrigation canals dried up as diggings deepened the river bed. Jose Doton, who was then already a veteran activist, led the farmers of San Nicolas and other Pangasinan towns in opposing the San Roque Multipurpose Project, explaining that it would eventually inundate all the rice lands along the Agno River. The construction of what is now known as the San Roque Dam was completed in 2003.

Doton fell prey to an extrajudicial killing on May 16 three years later – still in the thick of the campaign against the San Roque Dam, leading a group that was calling on the San Roque Power Corporation to compensate small-scale miners and others displaced by the project. The recent floods that inundated Northern and Central Luzon – brought by typhoon Pepeng (international name: Parma) but made worse by the release of water from five dams – have proven that Dulag, Delos Santos, and Doton were right all along in opposing the construction of large dams in their respective areas.

The San Roque Dam and the Laiban Dam are just two of the large dams in the Philippines at present. Others include the Magat Dam in Cagayan, the La Mesa Dam in Quezon City, the Angat and Ipo Dams in Bulacan, the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, the Matuno Dam in Ifugao, the Binga and Ambuclao Dams in Benguet, the Caliraya Dam in Laguna, the Bayungan Dam in Bohol, the Manangga Dam in Cebu, the Pan-ay River Dam in Panay, and Pulangi V in Bukidnon.

The international outrage sparked by Dulag’s murder forced the World Bank and the Marcos regime to abandon not only the Chico Dam, but other large-dam projects in the Cordilleras and elsewhere in the Philippines. However, amid the energy crisis of the early 1990s, then-President Fidel V. Ramos revived the large-dam projects mothballed during the Marcos presidency. Majority of these large-dam projects are initiated by foreign corporations and their local partners in cooperation with various government agencies. Most of these are funded by the JBIC, as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) http://bulatlat. om/main/2009/10/17/dam-nation-a-bloody-history-of-struggle-against-dams/ According to the International Commission on Large Dams, a large dam is one with a height of 15 meters or more from the foundations, or one with a height of 5-15 meters from the base but holding more than 3 million cubic meters of water. The 1980s and 1990s saw the frenzied implementation of large-dam projects in countries like Brazil, Chile, China, Guatemala, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. These projects, however, were met with intense mass protests.

These protest actions inspired the formation of anti-dam groups like the International Rivers Network (IRN). The snowballing of anti-dam protests led the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) to form the World Commission on Dams in May 1998. The WCD’s tasks were to study the effects of large dams as development projects and analyze alternative means of developing energy resources; and to set standards and guidelines for planning, designing, assessing, constructing, operating, monitoring, and decommissioning dams. The WCD studied a number of major dam projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

The WCD found, among other things, that large dams had destructive effects on the environment that are difficult to reverse; and that for the most part, these did not succeed in delivering their promised benefits such as providing for energy needs. The government has always argued that large dams have to be constructed to provide for the country’s energy needs. In so arguing, the government disregards the environmental and social costs of building and maintaining large dams. It also ignores other sources of energy, and there are several. There are biomass-powered systems, which use organic materials like animal manure and coconut husks.

There are also the micro-hydropower systems, or small systems using energy from moving water, which are characterized by the use of turbines or waterwheels to convert the energy of moving water into mechanical energy, and are especially appropriate for areas with numerous and large rivers. Solar-powered systems, which use photovoltaic cells, and wind-powered systems are also possible sources of energy. The government has ignored these options and instead chose to build and maintain large dams, claiming that these would bring “development”.

But the country’s experience with large dams is best summed up in these passages from the People’s Declarations Against Large Dams, issued in March 25, 2001 by the various organizations that participated in the National Workshop on Dams held in Baguio City: “During the second half of the past century, we have seen the government development plan on energy projects arbitrarily use our river systems. Dams were built across the nation to facilitate development but defined only from the perspective of the foreign investors, dam builders, international funding agencies, and the government.

Up to now, the Philippine government has been subservient to dictates of foreign monopoly capitalists of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. “For this, the Filipino masses especially the peasants and the indigenous peoples were damned to pay a dear price. “Thousands of Filipino families have been physically and economically displaced. Homes and properties have been destroyed and uncompensated. Communities have lost their heritage and their cultural identity. Harassment, militarization and human rights violation have become a common experience for communities directly affected by government development projects.

Ecosystems have been destroyed. “From the laying of the dam cornerstones to the turning of the dam turbines, profits flowed into the pockets of foreign energy corporations and their local partners, international funding agencies and the multi-lateral bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the flow of silt into the productive fields and the destruction of ecosystems, painful experiences of relocation and resettlement, testimonies of broken government promises on compensation, the non-delivery of social services to communities made survival more difficult for the already marginalized sectors of society.

The needs of the people were drowned by the greed for profit. ” http://bulatlat. com/main/2009/10/17/dam-nation-a-bloody-history-of-struggle-against-dams/2/ Pantabangan Dam Built in 1974 along the Pampanga River to serve as reinforcement against flood, and provide irrigation, additional electricity in the entire Luzon island, the dam was built by Filipino engineers under the supervision of the National Irrigation Administration. Pantabangan Dam is now one of the most visited tourist spots in the province. The place offers a scenic view of the surrounding area. Tourists will also appreciate the dam’s engineering wonders. ttp://answers. yahoo. com/question/index? qid=20060820185158AAy8ODO San Roque Dam While not as provocative as the destruction of Porta Farm in Zimbabwe or as heartbreaking as the devastation of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, we can still have relevant before-and-after comparisons of places here in the Philippines. The San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan is the controversial public works project which aimed to dam the Agno River to provide 345 MW of hydroelectric power, to prevent flooding, and to provide irrigation to tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land.

The indigenous Ibaloi people, who live upstream of the dam in Itogon, Benguet have been fiercely opposed to the project. The dam, they said, would disrupt their communities, inundate sacred sites, and force resettlement of hundreds of families who were already disturbed with the construction of Ambuklao and Binga Dams in 1954 and 1961 respectively. Nevertheless, the project was completed in 2002 and a reservoir now stands on the Agno River basin. http://www. vistapinas. com/article/san-roque-dam The Valley of the Dammed

The Ibaloi People’s struggle Against the San Roque Dam Ibaloi cultural heartland under threat, Philippines ‘The order of things in the community will be ruined. People will have no homes. We will all be scattered from each other and lost in strange lands…. … Shalupirip Santahnay Indigenous Peoples Movement statement September 1998 A hydroelectric dam being constructed in the Philippines will, if not stopped, destroy the last cultural stronghold of the Ibaloi people in and around Dalupirip, Benguet Province.

The San Roque multipurpose dam, to be built downstream in Pangasinan province is the last in a series of 3 dams on the Agno river which have over 45 years decimated Ibaloi economy and culture. The people of Dalupirip fear their homes, farm lands and their valley will be lost to the reservoir of the dam. The dam builders, a joint venture between Marubeni Corporation (Japan) and Sithe Energies (USA) claim that the flooding will destroy less houses and land than the people fear. The peoples’ fears are based on the bitter experience of their neighbours upstream.

The earlier dams were at Ambuklao (1954) and Binga (1961). At the time there was no resettlement plan and compensation was derisory. Some people resettled downstream with relatives in Dalupirip others were forced to migrate long distances. Only in 1996, more than 40 years too late, was a compensation Commission established. This seemed more aimed at disarming opponents of the new project than the welfare of the earlier victims. The Ibaloi are rice terrace farmers. Dalupirip is rich in rice lands and orchards. The people also pan for gold in the river and raise

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