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Antipolo's enchanting garden spot
By Bibsy M. Carballo
November 10, 2009, 3:12pm
Bulletin Today

Antipolo was the place to escape to back in the 1950s. The cool climate and tourist attractions like the waterfalls at Hinulugang Taktak made it a favorite destination for excursionists. Soon enough, however, the area surrounding the falls and the river turned into a slum colony. The river then became the sewage and dumpsite of the squatters. Thus as a child, we feel so fortunate to have experienced and beheld the beauty of this place just shortly before it fell to wastage and disrepute.

The Jardin de Miramar in Antipolo is a garden venue for private parties.
The Jardin de Miramar in Antipolo
is a garden venue for private parties.

The good news is it has been reported that the Antipolo city government, along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and some private groups are raising P100 million to fund the rehabilitation of Hinulugan Taktak. The local government and the DENR have each pledged P30 million for the project. The remaining P40 million will be sourced from private donors. Vince Hizon, former PBA basketball star, has been tapped to serve as waste management consultant. We feel this project is going to be a daunting task that would take 10 to 20 years to accomplish.

These were the thoughts in our mind as we headed for Antipolo upon the invitation of businesswoman Edna del Rosario. We were on our way to the party venue she built and manages, the Jardin de Miramar. This place has the look and feel of a museum for nature. Upon reaching the place, we marveled at the expanse of the landscaped gardens, all three hectares of them. The place is both a wedding venue and a park where children can frolic in its playgrounds.

Edna says her family acquired the property 60 years ago to serve as a summer and weekend retreat. But when Antipolo lost its luster as a vacation spot, the family stopped frequenting the place. As Edna ran a realty company and was considered the “businessman” of the brood, she was charged with managing and maintaining the property. This was in 1992 and it wasn’t until 2005 when she decided to turn the place into a moneymaking venue for parties. The objective was to build several distinct garden venues sporting various themes. If only to make sure that no garden in the property would look similar, Edna hired a different architect and designer for each.

The first two gardens to be opened are dubbed the Galera and the Paradiso. Perhaps because it would be the first garden visitors would encounter upon entering Jardin de Miramar, Edna spared no expense in building Galera. It’s an attractive venue for kids dominated by a 50 year-old 30-meter fishing boat that hasn’t seen water for several years. It’s been turned into a play boat and rechristened Angelica. The boat’s new look was designed Ral Arrogante, the famous recycled junk sculptor. There is also a lighthouse, a miniature Noah’s Ark and bridges of old wood sourced from the retired fishing boat.

The Galera’s piece de resistance is a tri-color metal sculpture by Ed Castrillo dubbed “Fortune’s Bounty.” This stunning work of art features eight varieties of fish. It looks particularly striking at night when the lights designed by Edna’s friend Shoko Matsumoto are turned on. The works of other famous sculptors and artists also adorn the gardens, including Michael Cacnio, Rosario Encarnacion Tan, Tony Leaño, Hannah Liongoren, Wendy Fernando, Alfred Galvez, Daniel de la Cruz, and Reggie Yuson.

If the site of Galera was a former field of heliconias, the second venue Paradiso is characterized by vegetation consisting of giant 14 year-old royal palms that appear to thrive in the cool, unpolluted environment. “Our royal palms are younger than the trees you see in Greenbelt but they are taller and healthier because of the air,” beams Edna.

The Jardin, on the other hand, can accommodate 1,600 guests, This multi-level outdoor wedding venue is popular among nature lovers and there is hardly any danger of being rained out as Jardin has a total of 11 covered venues one could always turn to.

Since 2005, Edna has opened a new venue every year. Venues currently under construction include the Tierra, an engaging children’s educational outdoor gallery for vegetable gardening, and the Ylang Ylang. The place has since served as the setting for movies and TV commercials, including the blockbusters “Kimi Dora” and “One More Chance,” which starred John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo.

Apart from being a no-nonsense workaholic, our reading of Edna is she has a rare ability to combine commerce and art. After all, we have never seen a garden that pays so much reverence to nature and the arts.

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This article and its photo are repbublished with permission from Ms. Bibsy M. Carballo of Bulletin Today.






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