Sunday, December 23, 2007

Breaking the rules at La Mesa Dam

After several days of battling the Christmas shopping crowds at different malls in Manila (shopping malls in most countries are crowded in the week before Christmas, but I have never been anywhere where they are as hectic as those in the Philippines) we decided to head out to La Mesa Ecopark, a nature park next to La Mesa Dam on the north side of the city, to get away from the crowds. The picnic ground not far from the entrance was quite crowded (and lots of kids in an adjacent playground), but on the other side of a large pond, where there were a couple of people fishing, there were some walking trails which I had all to myself.


It was quite a pleasant place – cool and shady under a lot of big trees - and a lot cleaner and better maintained than any other parks I have been to in the Philippines. On the side of the dam wall there was a flight of concrete steps, flanked by spectacular pink mussaendas, which appeared to lead up to a viewpoint over the dam.


However, when I got to the top (which was a hot climb as that part of the park is in full sun) there was a low fence blocking the way and a sign saying that loitering was prohibited and no pictures were allowed. And then across on the other side of a road which appeared to run around the dam, there was a higher fence blocking the view and another ‘No cameras or video taking’ sign (see picture below).


I wondered what the sense was of building steps up to a viewpoint, only to block the view with an ugly fence and putting up signs saying that you couldn’t loiter or take photographs. Perhaps a quick glance at the view is permissible, but anything longer would be breaking the rules (and of course my photo was breaking the rules as well).

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