PRE-PANDEMIC, prominent businessman Eduardo “Eddie” Bangayan’s week was constantly bustling with activities to visit his various businesses located in Davao, Bacolod, Zamboanga, Tacloban, and Cagayan de Oro.

Aside from this, he was actively involved in organizations such as the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc.; Philippine Association of Water Districts; Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the Philippine United Coconut Oil Mill Association; among others.

“I saw it wherever I was during the weekdays, I was back in Manila during the weekends to be with the family,” says Bangayan who is happily married to Juliet Uy-Bangayan.

“Sunday is a blessed day for the family. I sometimes do the market and cook for my visiting children, in-laws, and grandkids. When I am in Manila, I sit with my apos watching TV, going shopping with them, or watching them paint or take care of our pets at home,” says the 71-year-old doting father of five and grandfather of nine.

Maroon 71

But two years ago, just like the rest of the world, everything changed.

“My routine suddenly came to a halt because of Covid-19. I was marooned in Davao City. As a busy person traveling all the time, conducting businesses, and engaging in civic work, I had to stay at home because of the pandemic,” says the passionate art collector.

Unexpectedly, he became a homebody taking care of his 93-year-old mother and doing other household tasks which he was not accustomed to. Fortunately, video platforms like Zoom helped him stay connected, especially for important business meetings.

“Every day as well, my family makes sure we ‘meet up’ through Zoom at 5 p.m. to just talk about our daily activities. This way, I can also see how my grandkids are growing even if I do not see them personally,” shares the avid golfer.

Pandemic project

Bangayan "escaped" from the virus by going on trips to the Island Garden City of Samal. This is where he could walk, breathe fresh air, bask in the sunshine, and swim to keep himself healthy and fit.

He was also able to finally focus on the land developments that he once intended but did not have the time because of overlapping pre-pandemic schedules.

In addition, getting into the hobby of collecting plants came naturally while he was developing a property where he could keep his pets. “From sea creatures to turtles, I started to take care of snakes and lizards. Then, I started to keep as pets, big dogs, birds, and fowls. I don’t know why but I like to hear fowls and birds more than regular music,” intimates the animal lover.

Thinking that the pandemic would only last for about three months, Bangayan cleared a property initially with a plan just to build cages to house his animals. However, as the pandemic went on, the land primarily established for housing animals became an integrated project; this time, incorporating several garden areas.

“Because of the extended development that transpired in the property, there was a need to name it. Since I already have a small zoo called Izzy Farm named after my 1st granddaughter, I named my gardens Estella and Hope, in honor of my other granddaughters. As the virus spread and lockdowns occurred in the cities, thankfully, these gardens thrived and flourished,” he narrates.

Name game

Bangayan admits that when it comes to plants, he is still a novice. He says he does not have a main favorite but every time he gets to know a type of Philodendron or Aglaonema, he temporarily gets enamored with them. Now, he appreciates broad leafy plants like the Wave of Love and the Rain Forest.

“My constant likes are the Black Cardinal, Melaloni, and the Pink Princess. Do not ask me about plant IDs though because to tell you frankly, at my age, I can’t memorize them all! Their names are too complicated and confusing,” he laughs.

The plants are now well-established, and the animals are properly housed in the Estella and Hope Gardens. So, the only remaining daily activity is their maintenance. The bulk of the work is being done by the gardens’ six regular employees.

Some friends who have visited Estella and Hope Gardens are pleasantly surprised that a one-hectare land without any overview, breathtaking sunrise or sunset can be transformed into an interior get-away with an enchanting ambiance of peace, tranquility, and relaxation.

“The Estella and Hope Gardens were creations brought about by the inspiration of seeing unfurling leaves daily. That the gardens became this way was because of the pandemic. Well, thank you to Covid-19!”, ends the zealous plantito.

E-mail the author at Visit