The City Where Science Embraces Nature
But for all the prominence brought on by Makiling and its abundant hot springs, as well as by the UPLB campus, Los Baños is also a lakeshore town snug in the south-eastern side of the country’s largest inland lake. Laguna Lake (also known as Laguna de Bay), all 0f 89,076 hectares, is the edge of six of Los Baños’ barangays where fishing remains the main occupation and where the waterfronts still draw afternoon strollers and evening promenades. The view of the lakeside mountain town must have been breathtaking especially in the olden days, as when American tourist Walter Robb passed by the town and wrote in his travelogue published in the May 1922 issue of the Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce:
“. . . some of the prettiest scenery of the trip. . .(was) the lake to the left and Mount Makiling, about 5,000 feet high to the right. . . the view was magnificent, the vista to the north extending clear across the lake, while on the other side. . . are the undulating foothills of the Laguna provinces. . . it is a beautiful spot and should not be missed by the tourist.”
Nowadays, hundred of excursionist, out-of-towners, and travelers drop in at any given day, still drawn by the mountain, the lake and the hot springs resorts though most seeking not cures but momentary escape from the urban grinds. Its jungles have been sets of location shootings of the Hollywood and local films.
Though there are no high-rises nor traffic interchanges here, Los Baños is in a sense a city – of scientists and scholars, that is. In fact, the town is probably the densest habitat of academicians in Southeast Asia. And to ensure that the wholesome nature of Los Baños is preserved for the benefits of science and arts, it was designated as a Special University and Life Sciences Community in 1982.
Finally, on August 7, 2000, Los Baños was declared a “Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines” by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 349. It was signed by then President Joseph Estrada. The Proclamation is in recognition of the town’s important contribution in country. It has remained the country’s hub of science and nature with the presence of national and international research institutions collaborating towards the advancement of science research in view of preparing the country for global competition.
Some of the foreign dignitaries who have visited Los Baños include heads of states such as former US President Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Mexican President Mateos Lopez, Princess Beatrix of Holland, Thailand’s King Bhmibol and Queen Sirikit.
Inner Circle (Red) – As a symbol for courage and bravery, this signifies that this beautiful town is also a cradle of heroes. One of them is Gen. Paciano Rizal, a great general of the revolution, a patriotic man and the older brother of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.
Fourteen (14) Blocks/Sun Rays (Yellow) – Represents the fourteen (14) political subdivisions (barangays) of the municipality. It also depicts a rising sun which reflects the peoples hope, dreams and visions for progress.
Mountain (Blue) – Represents Mount Makiling, wherein flora and fauna abound providing means of livelihood for town folks. The site has become internationally known as a World Jamboree Site. Instead of using green as its color, the mountain was colored blue in commemoration of the “Los Baños Raid”, a raid which was executed by a combined U.S. Army Airborne and Filipino task force on February 23, 1945 resulting in the liberation of 2,147 allied civilian and military internees. It has been celebrated as one of the most successful rescue operations in modern military history.
Woman’s Face (Tan) – The woman’s face in the center is an artistic representation of the mythical Mariang Makiling who is said to be the guardian of the mountain. Some legends also identify Laguna de Bay – and the fish caught from it – as part of her domain
Waves (Blue) – Represents Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the country and a source of livelihood for some of the town folks.
Universal Science Symbol (White) – As a “Special Science and Nature City”, Los Baños is also a town with one of the largest science community in the Philippines and a home for many research institutes including IRRI (International Rice Research Institute).
Six (6) Elliptical Shapes (White) – Represents several bath springs existing in Los Baños from where the name originated meaning “many bath rooms”.
1615 (White) – Stands for the founding year of Los Baños. It was on September 17, 1615 when the Franciscan Friars took over the government as a separate town from Bay, Laguna.