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Quezon Memorial Circle expands ecology gardens
Source: Inquirer
Author: Tita V. Giron
Date: 1999-05-28
WE felt lucky to see the last crops of the season at Quezon

Memorial Circle's organic vegetable garden. Ripe and ready for

harvest were eggplants, spinach, papayas, saluyot, okra, and

basil. The faster growing pechays and mustard were gathered


The vegetable garden is just one of many demonstration areas

at the ecology learning center launched recently by Quezon City

Parks Development Foundation Inc., which manages the

26-hectare park in Diliman, QC.

It is a component of the bio-intensive garden where visitors can

see organic vegetable gardens, tight-space garden planters,

vermi composting and waste composting, mushroom growing,

backyard fishpond, and medicinal-herbal garden.

''We want to show urban residents what they can do for food

security and green environment,'' said Charito Planas, president

of the foundation.

She is the think tank of ideas that keep the park bustling with

activities, while Dr. Lolita Amores is park administrator. There

are 51 employees who are trained to do all kinds of park


Bio-intensive garden

With Charito as guide, our first stop was the bio-intensive

garden. We noticed the dwarf papaya bearing fat fruits. Along

the wire fence climbed robust alugbati creepers.

What was interesting was the unique way the ubi root crops

were grown. These were planted on sacks filled with compost

and garden soil. At the center of the sack was a tall bamboo

pole that supports the climbing vine.

This proves that even apartment dwellers can grow ubi, or

camote. Charito introduced us to caretaker Mang Erning

Tagayon, gardener and park poet. He wrote the poem posted on

a tree trunk. It was about recycling waste.

''The first ubi we harvested was very big and heavy,'' Mang

Erning said, boasting further that they didn't use chemical

fertilizers at the vegetable garden, only composted garden waste

and vermi castings.

He explained how composting is done inside used tire cars or

deep trench in the garden. This is one solution to the lack of

disposal areas for organic waste from the kitchen and garden, he


From the organic vegetable garden, we moved to the recycling

and classified garbage segregation section. This is where

weekly demonstrations and lectures are held.

Launched last month on Earth Day, the free lectures are now

drawing more participants from subdivisions and neighborhood


''Our park employees design and assemble waste segregation

racks, as well as planters for small spaces,'' Charito disclosed.

Made out of iron rods, the racks can hold four thrash bags

perfect for sorting out garbage.

Designed for small spaces, the garden racks are made of steel

and fine mesh netbags for containing garden soil. It can hold

vegetables or ornamental plants.

Prices are P390 for horizontal garden rack, P750 for vertical rack,

P1,000 for waste rack with decomposter, P11,000 for outdoor

waste rack with roof, and indoor waste rack made of angular

steel at P850.

We passed the vermi-composting box on our way to the

mushroom house with a cook-out area for sterilizing the special

growing medium. The house is a closed shed with several

shelves to hold the bags of mushroom bags.

The potting medium is a combination of sawdust, bran or darak,

sugar, and lime. These are cooked to kill harmful microorganisms

that can spoil the mushroom spores.

''We should be able to sell mushrooms next month,'' Charito said

as he disclosed other activities for next month. It includes plans

to buy recyclable items, too.

Tentative price list include the following: P17 per kilo of

aluminium cans; P1.50 for scrap cartons; P0.50 for paper; plastic

water container at P2 a kilo; container at P4; cups at P2.50; soft

bags at P3.

The medicinal and herbal gardens are being improved to

increase the collection and make potted plants available to the

buying public. For those who are interested in herbal medicine,

Charito has a list called ''botika sa paso.'' It specifies indications

for dispensing herbals to specific ailments.

Cough and cold remedies, for example, include eucalyptus,

kamias, lagundi, oregano, bungang tsina and sambong. Most

of the listed herbals are growing in the park garden.

Quezon Memorial Circle is evidently bustling with major

activities that start from 5:30-10 p.m when park gates close.

As early as 5:30 a.m. joggers use the park, but our biggest

crowd drawers are the disco nights. According to Ms Amores,

''thousands of residents in Quezon City attend the weekly disco


The centers of activities are divided into pay and free areas.

''We charge minimum rates for certain activities to generate

funds for park maintenance and salaries,'' Charito explained.

These include skating, basketball, bicycle rental, horseback

riding, therapeutic massage, art-in-the-park, and disco dancing

on Friday evenings.

Permanent fixture

In the free list are areas for aerobics, playgrounds, picnic,

bicycle lane, ecology areas, gardens, chess, meditation corner,

physical therapy clinic and remote control car track.

''We want to provide a wholesome park where everybody can

go for sports, relaxation and learning.'' As Charito was saying

this, she blew on her whistle to call the attention of someone

who sat on the picnic table and stepped on the bench.

''Ang mesa ay para kainan, hindi upuan. Ang silya ay para

upuan, hindi tapakan,'' she reprimanded the man.

Her whistle necklace is a permanent fixture on Charito Planas's

park attire. ''It's for discipline and order,'' she said. The park is

not without its share of violators and hecklers. Nobody is

spared from her whistle.

''Oh, I meet hecklers who call me names like 'talo ka naman sa

election', but there are educated ones who apologize when

caught violating park rules.''

For more information on park activities, call administrator Lolita

Amores or Charito Planas at 924-3395 and 924-3412. Or take a

walk around the park. There are no gate charges for walk-ins.

But motorists have to pay, for park maintenance, of course.

Rates are P15 for car, P30 for vans or coasters, and P100 for


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