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We always call it Makiling Botanical Garden but I just recently found out that its official name is "Makiling Botanic Gardens" according to its official website and the Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
The Makiling Botanic Gardens (MBG) in Laguna was established primarily to "support professional instruction and research related to forestry and plant sciences" of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR). It was also designated as a tourist destination and as educational and recreational facility for the general public since 1965.
When I was in grade school, my parents took me to MBG for the first time (we were still living in Santa Cruz, Laguna by then). I remember that I was awed by the sight of so many trees and flowering plants as we don't have a forest in Sta. Cruz. What we have there are rice fields and coconut trees.
Since then, we have come back to MBG countless of times for recreation, relaxation, research, and recently, to indulge our new passion - photography. MBG is an excellent place for photography practice sessions as it features rare plant species endemic to Mt. Makiling, and "which is said to have a more diverse plant species than that of the entire USA (MAnila Bulletin, March 2009)." Many students from different schools go to MBG for their field trips, presumably to document the numerous plant species that thrive here. Towering trees (dipterocarp forest), creeks (Molawin and Marulas), and nature trails can also be found here.
The sad thing though is you cannot see/visit Philippine birds of prey at MBG anymore. The Center for Philippine Raptors, which used to be located at the heart of MBG, was already moved to the DENR in Quezon City last September 2009.
MBG also serves as picnic area/rest area for students and other guests with its concrete tables and benches. On days when we want to step out of the house, my kids and I go to MBG for both fun and relaxation. We bring our snacks (sometimes lunch) and drinks and bask in nature's splendor at MBG.
However, the swimming pool inside MBG cannot be used anymore; the caretaker that I talked to said that the swimming pool has not been maintained/used for about 4 or 5 years already. It's also sad that most of the facilities here are not properly maintained maybe due to budget restrictions and staff shortage.
For school field trips, make arrangements one week before the scheduled trip and state the purpose of the visit. The MBG is open daily except holidays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Entrance fee is PhP 10.00 per person.
How to get to MBG
a. Public Transport
Board HM Transit at terminal in Cubao or Green Star Bus at Taft Avenue, bound for Sta. Cruz Laguna. Get off at Crossing, Los Baños, and ride a jeepney to UPLB Forestry and tell the driver to drop you off at Makiling Botanical Garden (the local/common name of MBG).
b. Private Transport
From Manila drive to South Luzon Express Way (SLEX) and take the Calamba exit (last exit of SLEX). Drive to Los Baños and to UPLB Forestry. In Forestry you will pass by an arc, and after about 200 meters you will see the sign "Makiling Botanic Gardens" at your right side.
For more information, contact the following:
The Head, Makiling Botanic Gardens
College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines - Los Baños, Laguna 4031
Telefax: (+63 49) 536-2637; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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