Mount Makiling Forest Reserve and Botanical Garden

Mount Makiling in Laguna  the Philippines was conceived as early as 1910. During that year, the Act 1989 of the Philippine Commission proclaimed Mt. Makiling, a forest reserve.

The idea to develop a national botanic garden within the 4,200 hectares of secondary forest.from that time up to the post war era of the 1950’s , the Bureau of Forestry ( now called Forest Management Bureau) FMB established plantations of both endemic and exotic trees of economic as well as aesthetic value in the lower and mid-level elevations of Mount Makiling.

Some foreign trees such as Mahogany from South America in early 1914.

Mr. Cereno acted as tour guide to the visiting group

In addition, palms and medicinal trees and ornamental plants were also introduced and planted in scattered areas in and around the main campus of the then College of Forestry.

spathiphyllum hybrid

From 1950 to 1960, Mt. Makiling was  placed under the administration of the Parks and Wildlife Commission. In 1960, Presidential Proclamation 629 turned over the administration of the “Park” to the University of the Philippines (UP) specifically for use of the College of Forestry. In 1961, the U.P. gained ownership of the area and renamed the forest reserve as the Makiling Botanic Gardens (MBG). The MBG is a unit of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, located in University of the Philippines, Los Baños-College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB-CFNR). It was established in 1963 by virtue of Republic Act 3523. The MBG is being developed to support professional instruction and research related to forestry and plant sciences, and to serve the needs of tourism as well as educational and recreational needs of the general public. Improvement and development of the gardens started as early as September, 1965.
specimen sized –Medinilla magnifica in bloom
The MBG showcases living collections of indigenous plants of Mt. Makiling such as Medinillas or Kapa-kapa  huge specimen sized flowering Medinilla magnifica delighted every visitor to the center.

The genus Medinilla had about 150 known species of flowering plant in the family of Melastomataceae , indigenous to tropical regions which spread from Africa,Madagascar , Southern Asia , to the western Pacific, The Philippines had about 90 species . The genus was named after governor J. de Medinilla of Marianas islands in 1820.

Medinilla species ( erect flowers)

The center had a collection of Mussaendas hybrids which were bred by professors and researchers of UPLB. Some of the Mussaendas were named after Philippine first ladies .

The Botanic garden also serves as a sanctuary for endangered and rare plant species in the country. It features a dipterocarp forest and nature trails, as well as the Molawin and Marulas creeks. Visitors to MBG also get an added treat of viewing Philippine birds of prey at the Center for Philippine Raptors (CPR).

tree frog sitting on a floating quiapo

the endemic COMMON FOREST FROG (Platymantis dorsalis) in Alcala and Brown’s illustrated field guide to Philippine Amphibians is common in the place , however this amphibian is a favorite list of menus of local snakes , birds of prey and including stray cats .

One of the continuing projects of the center is to introduce native orchids and epiphtytic  plants like ferns in the sanctuary . local garden clubs like Los Baños Orchid and Garden Society , Philippine Orchid Society had donated some orchids to the center. Most of the donated orchids were naturalized on big trees.

The botanic garden had several century-old trees like Mulawin, Narra, Dao, Betis, Mabalacat , Kamagong.

These are highly sought after lumber, A lot of Philippine towns and cities were named after these trees and plants. A mayor of the town of Betis in Pamapanga even asked some seeds from the center since there were very few trees in his native Betis in Pampanga.


College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines Los Baños
Laguna 4031  Philippines

Visiting hours

MBG opens from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. everyday except on New Year’s Day, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, All Saints Day and Christmas Day

For further information, please contact

Roberto P. Cereno
Botanic Gardens, Parks & Ecotourism Division
Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems
College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines Los Baños


History stroll thru postal stamps

Walking tours of city’s rich heritage
By Jeannette Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:41:00 04/25/2009

Photos : Renz

Filed Under: Tourism, Hobbies, Culture (general), history

Liwasang Bonifacio

MANILA, Philippines — It could be a magical mystery tour with a slight twist and a different setting.

The postal heritage walking tour around Manila hopes to resurrect the dying art of stamp collecting in an age of e-mail and instant messaging through leisurely strolls around historic sites around the country’s capital.

What’s magical about the tour is the Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club’s (FSCC) ability to uncover hidden gems of history around Manila using postage stamps as its guide.

back view of the Main Post Office and Postal Bank

Lawrence Chan, FSCC vice president and tour guide, conceded: “Stamp collection is a dying art. Let’s face it, people would rather send an e-mail rather than send snail mail.”

Chan told the Inquirer that the primary aim of the postal heritage walking tour is “to promote through philately our rich cultural heritage.”

Philately is defined by the Philippine Postal Service in its website as “the world’s most fascinating hobby. Through philately, you can learn of a country’s history, art, culture, and industry as depicted in special commemorative stamps.”

Chan said his group has organized the walking tours to “show participants how diverse and rich our culture is.” The tours are usually scheduled every third Sunday of the month but can be held on other days depending on requests made by students or other interested groups.

He pointed out that sometimes, they even spend for the participants just so they could join a tour.

The FSCC officers and members usually meet every third  Sundays at the Postal Museum and Philatelic Library to trade or sell stamps.

Josie Cura, FSCC president, told the Inquirer that her group accommodates people who want to start their own stamp collections.

Cura, who has been collecting stamps since 1966, said that people can write them through snail mail and ask for free stamps to start the hobby. “As long as they enclose self-stamped envelopes, we can give them stamps.”

The FSCC was first organized by stamp collectors in October 1994 as the Manila Stamp Collectors’ Club aimed at catering to beginners and intermediates at the hobby.

It was later renamed as the FSCC in January 2000 and has some 70 active members to date.

The Philippine postal heritage walking tour kicked off at the Aduana or the Customs House, where goods including mails were brought from overseas and declared.

Aduana ruins

What could be seen now of the then “Intendencia” is its ruins at the heart of Intramuros. The building was built from 1823 to 1829 , was demolished in 1872, and a new one replaced it four years after to house the customs offices, the Intendencia General de Hacienda (Central Administration), the treasury, as well as the casa moneda (mint).

First day cover of the Intendencia building circa 1974 -25th anniversary of the Central Bank of the Philippines

It was destroyed by American artillery in 1945 and was restored and used by the Central Bank of the Philippines, the national treasury, and the Commission on Elections until it was completely ravaged by a fire in 1979.

The Puerta Isabel II monument and gate is marked by the bronze statue of the Spanish queen which was first erected near the Teatro Alfonso XII (now the Metropolitan Theater) in Arroceros (now Plaza Lawton) on July 14, 1860.

Moves to dismantle the statue after the queen’s downfall was thwarted by a sympathizer who hid the monument in his home.

Puerta Isabel II gate and monument

In 1896, the statue resurfaced and was erected in front of the Malate Church for some 70 years until Typhoon “Yoling” (international code name Patsy) toppled the statue. It was only in 1975 during the visit of then Prince and now King Juan Carlos of Spain that the monument was erected on its present site.

Reina Isabel II of Spain- portrait and stamp issued in 1854

Liwasang Bonifacio was also part of the itinerary. The park which is known as the venue for most rallies used to be known as Plaza Lawton until it was renamed in the 1960s after the Plebeian hero Andres Bonifacio.

The Manila Cathedral inside the walled Intramuros was also part of the tour as it was also previously featured in stamps when its bell tower has not yet been constructed.

The final leg of the tour showed a virtual trove of philately in the form of the Postal Museum and Philatelic Library which is located within the Manila Central Post Office compound.

The postal museum is hidden at the third floor of the building of the Security Inspection Services Division and Postal Police Force that any Manileño would scratch his head in wonder at not knowing that it exists and is in fact the oldest museum in southeast Asia.

It was organized in 1992 to enable the public to view the country’s rich repository of stamps and items used by the post office through the years including: Old mail boxes, typewriters, awards, paintings, stamps, philatelic magazines, as well as books and catalogues.

Chan revealed that the Philippines is the first country in Asia to issue stamps, printing and releasing them on Feb. 1, 1854.

He disclosed that the first stamp is highly collectible because of the error in printing where “correos” was misspelled as “corros” and could fetch a price ranging from P5,000 to as much as P25,000 a piece.

Another collectible stamp is the June 30, 1981 Philippine issued stamp and souvenir sheet without any indication of the country of origin and carried “new republic” on its face.

A Sept. 25, 1995 issuance honoring Cesar Bengson bore the picture of his brother instead. When the error was discovered, 2,070 stamps had already been sold while the rest were recalled and replaced.

Chan pointed out that errors and mistakes in printing of stamps make them precious to stamp collectors.

He lamented that the hobby is no longer as thriving as it was during the snail mail era and the museum is not being promoted when other countries take pride in their culture.

“We have a very rich history. We should just take time, take it slow to enjoy what we have,” Chan stressed.

The FSCC can be reached by prospective hobbyists through Manila P.O. box 2986 or through 7355001.

Reprinted from Philippine Daily Inquirer – April 25 issue

Angelina Taruc Farm

Clean and  Green Foundation in partnership with Philippine Orchid Society, Smart Communications and the government of General Nakar in Quezon.

The group went to Rizal, Laguna and Quezon for exploratory expedition to survey the remaining plant habitat last August 20 to 21, 2007.

The group met at the Manila Seedling Bank and the group went to the rolling hills, fertile plains of Antipolo and parts of Rizal.

Before heading to General Nakar, the convoy decided to visit the farm of Mrs. Angelina Taruc in Baras Rizal.

Dendrobium anosmum aka sanggumay and Hoya pubicalyx

We were met by the caretaker of the farm and showed us what available plants that were on sale. Most of the farm are is dedicated to growing different orchids genus namely Dendrobium hybrids, Cattleya hybrids, Mokaras, Kagawaras, Oncidiums, Terete Vandas and native orchids such as Dendrobium anosmum and Hoya pubicalyx were naturalized on the acacia trees fronting the main entrance.

Brassavola nodosa hybrids

The group went into a buying spree and reserved a lot of important cut flower varieties and promise to come back after the 2 day exploratory trip to Quezon. Some of the semi-terete Vanda orchid mounted on kakawate driftwoods were bought by the Clean and Green Foundation for a discount.

a yellow cattleya hybrid

Being familiar with the group, the caretaker obliged to reserve some plants. The farm was said to be the main source of plants in the Rizal region. Wholesalers and retailers who had small plant and landscaping stores within the vicinity of Rizal are the frequent buyers, but according to the caretaker, they also encounter buyers from as far away as Quezon, Laguna and Bicol region.

The farm also produced several varieties of ferns, ornamental plants and gardening equipment and fertilizers.

Uni- Green Ornamental Plant

rows of cryptanthus or earth stars

Uni-Green Ornamental Plant is one of the  farms in the country which  exports of potted tropical plants in Japan and other Asian countries.

The company is also a frequent commercial participants in orchid, horticultural and agricultural shows and event.

The company specialized in sansevieras , hoyas, cryptanthus , palms, dracenas etc…


Sanseviera whose common names include: mother -in-law’s tongue , devil’s tongue, and snake plant is a genus of about 70 species of  flowering ornamental plants in the family Ruscaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions .

They are xerophytic herbaceous to shrubby succulent plants perennial plants, with evergreen strap-shaped leaves , growing to 20 cm to 3 m tall, often forming dense clumps .

The genus was named in honor of Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771), prince of  San Severo in Italy. Spellings “Sanseveria” and “Sanseviera” are commonly seen as well, the confusion deriving from alternate spellings of the Italian place name.

This particular plant is in demand abroad since the plant can withstand indoor light can can clean indoor pollutants.

Farm tour may be arranged with prior notice.

For contact:

Barangay. Anilao-Labak, Lipa City

Isdaan Restaurant

Isdaan is one fine restaurant that you wouldn’t even think existing in the landlocked province of Tarlac. Being here is like you’re in another country or some sort of a theme park . Its very remarkable setup, good food and display, this restaurant should be included in your list.

koi pond

Upon arriving in  Gerona, the place is  more than a hectare . While  the name “Isdaan” which means fisheries really speaks for itself. Huge sculptures of fishes are atop a pond filled with several types of fishes – mostly kois. These fish sculptures are somewhat re-enacting a scene where a bamboo pole has caught a fish.

Fish statute, Thai garuda and a T-Rex dinosaur

We walked through the restos bamboo flooring and noticed lots of different statues are all over the place. From sleeping security guards, rooster, huge monkeys playing around, dinosaurs from pre-historic  times,bronze Thai buddhas, aetas bearing jar clays and their catch of the day and even famous personalities of the late  Jaime Cardinal Sin and former President of the Philippines Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. You’re eyes are really filled with these masterpieces and would definitely get excited to survey the area.

One of the best sites in the area are the nipa huts.  These are suspended over the pond where school of kois are around waiting for some food. These huts were some sort of guarded by the waiters with their laminated-cardboard like menus. Asking you what to eat and even guiding you where’s the best location the restaurant has to offer. Warm and hospitable are the common thing for these folks, not to mention their mastery of food making. There were entertainers who sung various Filipino songs much to the group delight .

The group ordered crispy pata lechon, inihaw na manok, singang , adobong palaka, ginataang kuhol, fried rice, lumpiang sariwa  and fresh fruit juices.

The group came across Ms. Iwa Motto – a starstruck finalist and a kapuso channel 7 celebrity. we instantly requested to have a group photo and an individual photo her.

Tacsiyao wall

The Tacsiyapo wall,  is just a wall which you can release your anger towards someone. But if you are really raging mad at that time, this is a sure way to release your anger while shouting “Tacsiyapo” meaning ” shame on you ! ”  and throwing away the mug or whatever you have chosen to smash onto the wall! There are also places in Japan and Europe  were people can release their anger by throwing utensils and other stuffs . Call that anger and stress management therapy for a fee!!!! minus the consultation….

Lastly, they have a San Kilo Bridge, where they would give you a free 1 kilo of tilapia, if you are able to successfully cross the bridge back and forth.  Best time to go here is in the evening so that it is a little cooler and you’ll be prepared for any eventualities with the San Kilo Bridge.

an visitor  crossed the san kilo bridge to the finish line

For more information:

Gerona, Tarlac
Contact Number: 045-9312196

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