By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Established in July 1916 during the American occupation, the Philippine National Bank (PNB) had an initial mandate of providing services to the country’s industry and agriculture, as well as to support the government’s economic development efforts.
Nowadays, it remains one of the largest banks in the country, with a wide array of competitive banking products to answer to the diverse needs of its huge clientele.
One of its key persons, however, plays a different role from the one she already has in the bank.
PNB Chairwoman Flor G. Tarriela also runs her own garden in Antipolo, Rizal that serves as a bird and butterfly sanctuary as well as an educational destination composed of different gardens that have their own specialty.
“Flor’s Garden is more than five hectares, surrounded by a creek. [It is] a wonderful gift from God! Birds and butterflies stay in the garden because we practice the natural way of gardening, no use of chemicals. The garden is also a hoya sanctuary with various species of hoya plants and other ornamentals,” the chairwoman said.
Some crops that grow in the garden include medicinal plants, with fruit-bearing trees such as mangoes, star apple, cashew, rambutan, marang, and more.
Moreover, her garden also promotes wellness to its guests through its numerous amenities, along with seminars that focus on living a healthy lifestyle.
Inside Flor’s Garden
According to Tarriela, Flor’s Garden teaches, practices, and shares ideas to their guests so they can become more aware of the environment and be more active in protecting it.
The garden is an educational destination for different gardens with different specializations ranging from edible plants, medicinal plants, to ornamentals.
First is Jardin ng Buhay, which is a garden where edible and medicinal plants grow. Another garden that follows this idea is Botika Garden, or God’s Pharmacy, where they have medicinal plants and weeds that have useful healing properties.
“We call the weeds ‘weedicinals’ because of their medical properties,” Tarriela said.
Other than promoting medicinal plants, Flor’s Garden also has an advocacy of ‘No Filipino should be hungry.’ Their Kitchen garden teaches their guests about weeds that are edible, or ‘weedibles’, and how to identify them to show that one’s own backyard has the potential to grow food.
“Our in-house doctor, former Secretary of Health Jaime Galvez Tan, helps us promote this advocacy because we believe that health is wealth. We even conduct quarterly seminars for wellness,” the PNB chairwoman said.
Having recognized the need for edible and medicinal plants to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Tarriela also knows that these are not the only elements that could improve a person’s well-being.
To complete the package, Flor’s Garden also houses the Grow Fresh Air Garden where indoor and outdoor plants are located to purify the air. Meanwhile, the Bamboo Forest in the garden gives the guest a chance to bathe with bamboo to improve their memory and combat stress.
Aside from bolstering the importance of health and wellness through plants, Flor’s Garden also has educational gardens where guests can learn how to distinguish plants and how to care for them.
The wet and dry garden houses plants that live in water and those that don’t while a garden that uses various types of soils and conditioners sets an example on how the different soil conditioners are used to improve the soil’s nutrients.
Other amenities found in Flor’s Garden are a resthouse, an air-conditioned mini conference room, a bamboo forest, fishponds, a hanging bridge, along with a vermiculture and concoction area.
“You can also exercise in Flor’s Garden by following the hiking trail that passes the bamboo forest to the hanging bridge, and to the vermiculture and concoction house where we prepare our natural fertilizers,” the chairwoman said.
Livestock such as native pigs and chickens are also raised in the garden following natural farming methods.
All these elements found in Tarriela’s garden was born out of a love for gardening before it eventually opened to the public in 2012.
The continuation of this article will discuss how Flor’s Garden started and how it managed to earn an income despite starting out as a hobby garden for the family.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s July to August 2021 issue.