Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rediscovering 6 of Quezon City's Main Attractions

I've lived in Quezon City all my life. But there are still so many places in my hometown that I haven't explored yet. Fortunately, I was recently invited by Microtel PH to join their City Media Familiarization Tour, along with several travel bloggers. I've actually been to a few of the city attractions that were listed on the itinerary. Surprisingly, several of the QC sites that we visited were new to me. 

The plant box was a gift from the Tapia Family for Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon.

Me and my roomie, Monica of The Boho Travels, woke up early in the morning to get breakfast at Millie's All-day Dining (Microtel-UP Technohub). The in-house dining facility offered a delicious breakfast buffet, which we enjoyed tremendously. Now, I'm really not a morning person, as a hot cup of coffee could easily perk me up. But upon seeing the array of food served, I knew I had to eat to my hearts content. My favorites that morning would have to be their well-seasoned potatoes & bacon, their fluffy egg omelette and fried rice. Their brewed coffee and orange juice were also great wake-me-uppers.

#1: UP-AYALA LAND TECHNOHUB

We started our #FamTour by driving around the UP-Ayala Land Technohub. That was around 8:30 in the morning. It was then that I learned that the city's information technology hub was jointly developed by the University of the Philippines-Diliman and Ayala Land.

We only circled the area once just to see the place during daytime, as the hub looked so different at night (Technohub, to me, exuded a more vibrant and dynamic vibe at nightfall). After a quick tour, we soon drove off to our second destination of the day: The Quezon Memorial Circle. The historic site, which was just a few minutes away from the hotel, is a national park. Bound by the Elliptical Road, the park is also recognized as Quezon City's national shrine.

#2: QUEZON CITY MEMORIAL CIRCLE

The most iconic symbol of the entire Quezon City Memorial Circle is the art deco-themed monument, which was designed in the 1950s by Federico Lustre. You'll be interested to know that the 66-meter high centerpiece, which has an observation deck at the top, represents the age of Manuel L. Quezon when he died from tuberculosis. He was the Philippines' second official President. Furthermore, the tall mausoleum contains the remains of the president, and of his late wife, First Lady Aurora Quezon.


If you can see the top of the the tall mauseloum, you will also find three mourning angels holding sampaguita wreaths, which were sculpted by Italian sculptor Francesco Monti. The three angels also represents the three island groups of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

FACTS: The Quezon Memorial Circle is also home to several eateries, a mini-bazaar and a small market called "Sikat Siningkatutubo" that sells Indigenous Peoples Products. But aside from these local shops, the national park also hosts several recreational areas where guests can workout at their own pace (some jog, some teach or take free Zumba classes). 


QUEZON HERITAGE HOUSE

There was one interesting site in the park that I never knew existed, not until the Microtel Team introduced it to us. It was called the Quezon Heritage House. The 2-storey residence, which is a replica of the old vacation house of President Manuel L. Quezon in Gilmore St., New Manila, contained most of the original furniture, tiles, grills, doors and windows from the former abode. 


Some of the family's personal belongings were also taken to the 'weekend house', like the President's luggage, which he brought to NYC. Aside from that, we were shown Doña Aurora's bedroom on the second floor. It was connected to a bathroom, which she shared with her husband, who stayed in a separate room while he was being treated for his tuberculosis.


The first floor of the residence also housed a meeting room, a glass cabinet filled with the President's books from his time in the Senate, a living space full of wood furniture, and two bedrooms --- one of which was owned by one of Quezon's grandkids.


You can visit the heritage house from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 AM to 4 PM. There is no entrance fee. But walk-ins aren't allowed. We were told that a visit to the Office of the Vice-Mayor was needed in order to gain access to the heritage house. I actually found this to be a bit of an inconvenience, as interested visitors will have to go out of their way just to visit the site. I hope the local government will consider putting up a satellite office or something where guests can easily reach them.

Address: Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila

#3: UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES-DILIMAN AND JORGE B. VARGAS MUSEUM

Now, University of the Philippines-Diliman, I know, as I'm a proud graduate of the university. I know everyone will agree that the Diliman-based campus is a destination in itself, as it's easily recognized for its notable spots such as the Sunken Garden, the Oblation and Academic Oval, Quezon Hall, Carillon Tower and others more. Of course, going on a food trip is another fun activity that can be done in UPD, as several "food carts" can be found selling affordable, local snacks.


Should you find yourself in UPD, make sure to visit the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, as it is the center for Philippine art and culture. Now, the first floor is usually where local artists exhibit their artworks. The second floor on the other hand, is where you'll find the personal collection of Mr. Vargas (from paintings to sculptures). You can only gain access to his selected treasures by availing of a guided tour, which the museum will provide upon request.

Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission Fees: Php 20.00 for UP students, alumni, faculty and employees
PhP 30.00 for everyone else
Entrance is FREE every Wednesday for UP students, alumni, faculty and employees.
Address: Roxas Ave, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila

#4: LA MESA ECOPARK

The last destination on our list (before going back to Microtel-UP Technohub) was La Mesa Ecopark. Note that park admission rates differ for Quezon City residents and Non-QC locals.

*Persons above 3 FT (P50) / 3 FT & below (FREE)
*QC residents w/valid proof of residence - P40 / QC students w/valid ID - P20
*QC Senior Citizens w/valid ID - FREE
*NON-QC Senior Citizens- P40


I've been to La Mesa Ecopark several years ago. And it was nice to see so many familiar spots the second time around. Unfortunately, we were already strapped for time. So we only did a quick tour of the vicinity. I was actually pretty happy that the park is managed well, despite having an influx of visitors. Anyway, we capped off our morning tour by eating ice cream, as a treat from Mr. Dandi.

La Mesa Ecopark offers an array of recreational areas, and is also home to a vermicomposting facility, butterfly trail, swimming pool and others more. Of course, climbing the stairs towards the La Mesa Dam is a must when visiting the park. The reservoir provides the water supply of Metro Manila.

Address: Lamesa Dam Compound, Greater Lagro, Quezon City, Philippines (15 minute drive from Microtel-UP Technohub)

#5: MYSTERY MANILA: THE FIRST LIVE ESCAPE ROOM GAME IN THE PHILIPPINES

I was contemplating on whether to join my group or not for the Mystery Manila activity in Libis (a few minutes away from Microtel Acropolis). So you can just imagine how nervous I was, as the build up was just nerve-racking! I'm sure you'll get the feeling when you get asked if you're claustrophobic, and if you're willing to be put inside a coffin for an hour! Grrrrr...

"1 Room. 1 Mystery. 1 Hour. 1 Way Out. Can you solve it?"


The build up was too intense for someone like me, as we were briefed that by choosing "Buried Bodies", two from our team will have to be placed in separate coffins. I definitely didn't want that as I'm afraid of being in tight spaces. So I decided to stay outside, and help solve the 'mystery' with the rest of the team. Thankfully, all of us settled down once we got into our chosen room. It was pretty dark inside. But it was definitely a fun and interesting place to be solving mind-boggling stuff in. Fortunately, our team solved the mystery despite having gone over the 1-hour allotted time (thanks to Grissom for the extra chances). Still, we won!!!!

If you want to be REALLY challenged, while creating solutions to difficult problems, then you'll surely enjoy Mystery Manila. It's a great team building activity, and a fun way to strengthen bonds between friends, families and colleagues.


Note that the price depends on the number of people playing. Our group was composed of six people, so our rate was only P400/person. Now, it's also advisable to reserve a room/s, as they're pretty much booked all the time. You're lucky if you get a slot when you walk-in, but that's highly unlikely.

Mystery Manila - Libis Quezon City (other branches in Boracay and Jupiter, Makati)
Address: Unit 9A, JW Plaza Building, 195 E. Rodriguez Jr Ave.
(also known as C5, right across the street from the entrance of Eastwood, Libis)
Brgy. Bagumbayan, 1110 Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Tel: (+63) 02 501 2824 or (+63) 917 582 08 08
Operating Hours: 1pm to 930pm Mondays to Fridays
9am to 930pm Holidays/Saturdays/Sundays

#6: THE CHERRY ON TOP: ART IN ISLAND

Art In Island in Cubao is definitely one-of-a-kind. It's a 3D Art Museum where guests are encouraged to interact and play freely with the art pieces on the wall. You can also take as many photos and videos, and play pretend all day long. Art In Island wants all of its guests to BE PART OF ART, and we experienced just that and more.


The entrance fee is P500 for adults and P400 for students. Senior citizen cardholders and PWDs are also given discounts. They're also open from Tuesdays to Sundays, and during Holidays from 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM. There's also no time limit. So you can stay for as long as you want, and take as many pictures/videos and memories until 9:30 in the evening. And should you get hungry, an eatery is accessible at the ground floor of the museum.

Address: 175 15th Ave., Brgy. Socorro,, 1109 Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines (behind Cubao Expo)

Again, thank you Microtel-UP Technohub and Microtel Acropolis for bringing us to these amazing QC attractions! I, for one, truly had a blast! :)

Explore & Be Free!
Mai

*Special thanks to Microtel-UP Technohub and Microtel Acropolis for bringing us to these amazing QC attractions.

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