Allan: The presence that silenced the shouts of joy

Sangal di Kultura

THIS pandemic has brought out realizations that we may not have time to ponder like things of thought and reason, as a lot of us spent more time at home for protection from the exposure of the virus. In doing so, we let that virus fall to the ground and die because it misses any human target. Being in a closed quarter and spending time together in the homes gives the realization of what the home is.

Then people started to go back to times of old. In Baguio when we were young, there were gardens in front and gardens at the back. This seems to be very common in most homes then. Frontages were flower gardens or lawns, sometimes an altar or a fish pond. The back was the vegetable gardens, fruit trees and sometimes chicken, rabbits, pigs, or other animals kept by the family. But through the years, Baguio has minimized the homes as more commercial buildings rise in residential areas, despite the zoning ordinance.

The gardens are the first to go as more buildings occupy the backyards and front yard. The front yards if beside a road is converted into a store, a boarding house, a parking lot or other structures making the flowers, the lawn, the altar and the fishpond become part of memory. The laughter and the joy shared by the family in the front yards are silenced.

The backyards filled with pigpens, the chicken coop and rabbit houses were replaced with bigger buildings that dwarfed the home. They have become commercial bodegas, apartments, hotels. The open spaces have become commercial areas, the mountains have become a conglomeration of houses where roads were built after the houses were inhabited. There was no urban planning so that many communities go to the city council seeking to declare portions of lands as roads of access to their homes. The chirping of birds and the cock crows and swine grunting have been silenced. The children’s laughter as they play among the animals was silenced.

And fast-track many years after, the homes are trying to recreate the gardens in containers. Containers being recycled for it have become a major problem of disposal and environmental threat. Containers were recycled into rooftop gardens, vertical gardens, stairway gardens. Gardens are found in plastic containers, old computer monitors, discarded toilet bowls, broken pails and batya, and others. Some askew, some hanging, some sitting on the ledge and rooftops and pushing their way into the new landscape of homes.

Some apartments and boarding houses have converted their window sills and stairwells into mini gardens. Plants and mini gardens in mini spaces are created while some are in the water, some in the sand like succulent gardens, some in broken cups. This pandemic stays at home has encouraged the creative mind to convert small spaces into green spaces. The migrants in the city may not know, but they are trying to bring back memories of long ago, the Baguio that was filled with homes that had gardens.

The presence of the highly urbanized structures in Baguio has silenced the shouts of joy in the gardens of long ago. The pandemic has made people stay home, and gardens are again filling those homes.

The team that went around the city judging the survival gardens are amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of the human mind put into action. I appreciate the office of Doc Brigit Piok, the City Veterinary and Agriculture office for including us in this activity. Those who have not started the garden at home should start now while community quarantine is still in effect, they will have time to talk to their plants.


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