Episode 43: Learning and Living the Farm Life at Paradizoo

Sustainable living is all the buzz nowadays, especially when it comes to food. In a time when people depend on processed food, there’s a certain pride in enjoying a home-cooked meal, much more when the ingredients come from your own backyard.

Thing is, can such an endeavor be feasible for us city-dwellers? Apparently, it is as long as you know where to start.

On top of a hill in Mendez, Cavite, there’s this nipa hut that reminds us of the joys of homegrown plants. It was built with a model garden around it, patterned after an old Filipino ditty we’re pretty much familiar with.
The garden has vegetables that we see on our tables, such as turnip, eggplant, winged bean (sigarilyas), peanuts, string beans, hyacinth beans, lima beans… Cue “Bahay Kubo” in 3, 2, 1.
This model garden (and the nipa hut) is an attraction of the Paradizoo Theme Farm, one of the newest tourist destinations away from the hustle and heat of Metro Manila.

Paradizoo is a paradise of flora and fauna that people can visit amidst a peaceful, countryside setting. It’s an ideal place for nature lovers, educational trips, picnics, and other events where you want to feel close to nature.

Paradizoo showcases a collection of plants so numerous it would probably put Farmville to shame. Aside from the usual vegetable field, which has a wide array of delicious-looking produce, there’s a garden that has herbs and spices, from those commonly seen at home, to the fancy ones you see in supermarkets or even in cooking shows.

Near the nipa hut and its model garden is a greenhouse containing plants grown through hydroponics (a planting method that uses liquids instead of soil). There’s even an area that is devoted to planting mushrooms and bamboo.
In another area, which looks like one of those garden picnic scenes in soap operas, one can view different kinds of flowers and ornamental plants. (No picking, though.) Fruit-bearing trees can also be seen in certain parts of the farm. Despite the large number of species, great care is taken to ensure these plants thrive untouched in their ideal environment.

Visitors can learn how to plant these flowers and vegetables, and even buy seeds or whole plants that they can take care of at their homes. Soil boosters are even available to make sure your plants will grow healthy.

Paradizoo also takes pride of its collection of farm animals. One can view, pet, or feed the animals while learning more about how to raise, breed, and even profit from them.

Of course, the theme farm would not be complete without its collection of exotic zoo animals like ostriches and camels. They also keep several butterflies and a beehive, and hold mini-seminars for guests to learn more about these insects and their contributions to the environment.

 

Last January 19, Paradizoo re-launched “Power of Three”, an agricultural fair that aims to educate the public on the importance of agriculture in our lives and an industry.

Guests may attend free seminars on breeding and livestock care, and buy some of the animals. They may also learn the basics of farming, such as planting vegetables, milking goats, watching eggs hatch, shearing sheep fleece, and riding horses.

 

Farm-related events lined up for “Power of Three” include the Veggie Festival from Feb. 16 to 22, the Livestock Festival from the 23rd up to March 3, and the Milk and Cheese Festival on March 2 and 3.

Flower lovers will enjoy Paradizoo’s exhibit of floral designs, topiary, and hedges at the Flower Festival, which will be held until Feb. 15. They may also celebrate the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10, complete with fortune telling, sky lantern floating, and snake shows to usher in the Year of the Water Snake. In line with Paradizoo’s environmental advocacy, there will also be a tree-planting activity with the Haribon Foundation on Feb. 23.

Zoomanity Group President Robert Yupangco says Paradizoo works on the concept of an eco-friendly tourist attraction. The theme farm aims to provide a meaningful visit by focusing on Zoomanity’s four E’s: education, environmental conservation, exhibit of flora and fauna, and entertainment.

There’s much to appreciate in Paradizoo Theme Farm. Not only will you enjoy being close to nature, you may also learn about the flora and fauna that sustain us. Who knows, you may even be inspired to bring a piece of the farm life with you, be it animal, flower, or vegetable, and raise a profitable, sustainable garden in your home.

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Paradizoo Theme Farm
Km. 63 Panguyan
Mendez, Cavite
For more information, contact:
(02) 898-3695
899-9824
0917-835-1111
Visit the Zoomanity Group website:

Episode 42: Returning to a better Rizal Park, and then some

To be frank, I only have faint memories of Rizal Park. I do recall visiting it as a kid: seeing the RizalMonument, playing at the playgrounds, walking near Manila Bay, watching the sunset, being scolded for roaming around, getting lost and thinking everyone left me behind… Wait.

I never explored Rizal Parkas an adult. There’s the fear of getting mugged, the stench of garbage and urine, the street walkers and thugs, and other shady circumstances. Yeah, there was a time when the park was a place straight out of a crime novel.

Much has changed when I visited Rizal Park on the first Sunday of January, this time as a tourist joining Carlos Celdran’s “Walk This Way” tour. To say that the park is now a safer, brighter, cleaner, and more relaxing tourist spot than before is an understatement.
Our first stop was the relief map of the Philippines. Once strewn with trash and dirty water, the place is now an interactive map with trivia about each region. At night, the lanes are well-lit, making walks around the map pleasant and safe.

Along the way, we were treated to a view of the former Jai Alai Fronton Building. I heard Carlos saying it was demolished during Pres. Joseph Estrada’s administration as his way of saying “(MTRCB) you” to the elite. There goes a historical landmark.


We also passed by some of the park’s new public restrooms. They’re well-maintained, they’re clean, they don’t smell bad, and apparently they save a lot of water. Never mind that you have to pay a few pesos, relieving yourself is now more convenient.


Next was the Children’s Playground, once called “Paraiso ng Kabataan” (Children’s Paradise). This place I remember somehow.

The hippopotamus and the giant boot that I played in are still there. The slides and see-saws are maintained despite their old age. There were other new attractions, such as that fountain; in any case, visiting a place that I remember is refreshing.



We then passed by the Valencia Circle, once known as the Agrifina Circle. Carlos says the place was named so because it was between the former Agri (Department of Agriculture) Building, and the former Fina (Department of Finance) Building. The circle was renamed after Teodoro Valencia, the dean of Filipino journalists.


The statue of Lapu-Lapu is now a familiar landmark. Families and groups gather to relax, hold picnics, or hang out. We even spotted martial artists training at the circle. Despite the crowd, it’s safe to walk around because park guards patrol the area.

Another attraction I spotted was the Pinoy version of Thomas, the sentient train from “Thomas and Friends” (I prefer to call it the “Thomas Express 999”). There’s alse one of those traditional carriages. A tour around Rizal Park onboard is worth P50, I think.

Next was the Flower Clock, one of the newer attractions at Rizal Park. The flowers that make up the clock are pretty and cared for, but the clock has stopped. What.







After that was the Art Park, home to the Art Association of the Philippines(and a place I’ve never been to). Artists can hold exhibits and other shows in its amphitheater-like grounds. The office itself has an exhibit area where visitors can view artworks.

We also passed by Blumentritt’s Fountain, a literal fountain from Germany dedicated to the historian Ferdinand Blumentritt, Jose Rizal’s best friend (and rumored lover, which made my otaku friends ask if he’s seme or uke, but that’s not my field).

Finally, we came to the highlight of our tour: the Rizal Monument. Ever remembered and flocked by tourists, this monument remains to be one of most iconic landmarks in the country. No visit to Rizal Park can be complete without paying respects to our national hero Jose Rizal, and having your pictures taken with him at the background.

Here’s some news, though: Carlos said a condominium project is about to rise near Taft Avenue, in front of Rizal Park. If this pushes through, the next time you look at the Rizal Monument, there will be a 50-plus storey building standing right behind it.
Carlos said not only will the condominium offend and ruin the Rizal Monument’s view, but it will cause congested traffic, cause inconvenience to unit owners, and would end up being a bad investment.

Our last stop was Rizal’s Execution Site. Large statues stand around the area, depicting Rizal’s last moments. It was a solemn place. History fans can reflect on Rizal’s life. Tourists can enjoy nature at its quietest. The imaginative people, well…

Carlos reminded us to rediscover Rizal Parkon our own some time, and to appreciate our landmarks before progress wipes them out. And I actually agree: Manilaitself has a lot of historical and tourist destinations that we should appreciate. It’s a great way to learn about our culture and heritage, and how this relates to us today.

After the tour, I took the time to walk around Rizal Park again. Simply walking around, drinking in the surroundings, and moving at a leisurely pace is rejuvenating for the soul. With the kind of life I’ve been living, relaxing has been a luxury. I’m actually thankful that I got the excuse – and eventual chance – to visit the park.
And then came the hunger pangs.

The food vendors I spotted at the park are well-organized. They’re all at the center of the park, selling rice meals, sandwiches, and drinks for wandering visitors. The snacks you buy from them are assured to be delicious, clean, and affordable. Garbage is well-disposed. Patrolling cops are within sight. The best part: no cigarette vendors. Did I mention that cigarettes are no longer allowed in the park?

The sad part is that the vendors aren’t there permanently, since they were set up for Rizal Park’s Christmas event, which was apparently ending that day. On the other hand, there are several “Food Boxes” permanently stationed around the park, selling bite-sized snacks, ice cream, and drinks. There’s also a carinderia selling cooked meals, and a few sidewalk stalls.
I ended up satisfying myself with a shawarma, a bowl of lugaw, a tapsilog, and about three glasses of buko juice. Mmm, street food at its finest. I’m sure I regained all of the calories I burned from walking all over Rizal Park. So much for getting fit.

Meditations of a Self-assuming Diamond in the Rough

I just finished watching “Whisper of the Heart”, an anime movie about a girl who was inspired to write a fantasy novel. ‘Twas a heartwarming movie, romance elements notwithstanding.

Shizuku, a bookworm and a talented writer, never thought of her future and how she would use her talents. It took a fateful meeting with Seiji, a violin player who dreams to become a master luthier, to realize that she had to develop her skills and build up her future while following her own dreams.

What caught my attention was what Grandpa Nishi (Seiji’s grandfather) said when Shizuku voiced out her doubts about her writing:

“When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw, natural state with hidden gems inside. You have to dig down deep and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work.”

When I started writing about food, it was just an outlet for my love for cuisine and much more. Then again, I’m not very confident with my food writing, much more my career as a writer. I’ve been writing news stories for 18 years, and I still think I haven’t progressed. It had been my dream to be a writer, and it still is.

I once thought that since I wanted to be a writer, I had to work hard and see it through to the end. I saw writing as a career and an outlet for my emotions and thoughts. But now I realized that was how I saw my dream, and nothing more.

After watching the film, I thought, “Have I lost my passion for writing? Am I really working hard to be a great writer, or have I reduced myself into a mere career person? Is this what I was aiming for in life?”

I don’t know what is holding me back, or why I’m holding back, or if I’m holding back for a later opportunity and forgot about it altogether. In any case, Grandpa’s words were enough to make me think really hard… And at this point, I’m thinking about my future.

Someone once told me I was a “diamond in the rough”. I guess that person think I’m going to be worth much. Yet it seems that all this time I haven’t been digging for the gems inside me. But all is not lost, even for one as old as myself. The new year has barely started. Let the digging begin, I say.

I don’t care anymore if I don’t have the time to travel. I don’t care if I’m not healthy enough, or I don’t have the funds and connections to eat out, or I don’t have the opportunities to sharpen my craft altogether. I intend to become better as a food writer. Everything I need will come as I need them, like a Deus ex machina or an eleventh hour superpower or something. That much I affirm.

To you who is reading this, take the time to think about your dreams and goals in life. Compare yourself from the past, yourself today, and the you that you see in the future. Perhaps, just like me, you have yet to unlock your full potentials and move a step, a skip, a leap closer to what you wish to become.

Whatever it is, I give you my prayers and wishes for success. May the whispers of the heart that dreams like you guide your steps in life.

Meditations of a Self-assuming Diamond in the Rough

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Shizuku from the movie “Whisper of the Heart”. Watch it.

I just finished watching “Whisper of the Heart”, an anime movie about a girl who was inspired to write a fantasy novel. ‘Twas a heartwarming movie, romance elements notwithstanding.

Shizuku, a bookworm and a talented writer, never thought of her future and how she would use her talents. It took a fateful meeting with Seiji, a violin player who dreams to become a master luthier, to realize that she had to develop her skills and build up her future while following her own dreams.

What caught my attention was what Grandpa Nishi (Seiji’s grandfather) said when Shizuku voiced out her doubts about her writing:

“When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw, natural state with hidden gems inside. You have to dig down deep and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work.”

When I started writing about food, it was just an outlet for my love for cuisine and much more. Then again, I’m not very confident with my food writing, much more my career as a writer. I’ve been writing news stories for 18 years, and I still think I haven’t progressed. It had been my dream to be a writer, and it still is.

I once thought that since I wanted to be a writer, I had to work hard and see it through to the end. I saw writing as a career and an outlet for my emotions and thoughts. But now I realized that was how I saw my dream, and nothing more.

After watching the film, I thought, “Have I lost my passion for writing? Am I really working hard to be a great writer, or have I reduced myself into a mere career person? Is this what I was aiming for in life?”

I don’t know what is holding me back, or why I’m holding back, or if I’m holding back for a later opportunity and forgot about it altogether. In any case, Grandpa’s words were enough to make me think really hard… And at this point, I’m thinking about my future.

Someone once told me I was a “diamond in the rough”. I guess that person think I’m going to be worth much. Yet it seems that all this time I haven’t been digging for the gems inside me. But all is not lost, even for one as old as myself. The new year has barely started. Let the digging begin, I say.

I don’t care anymore if I don’t have the time to travel. I don’t care if I’m not healthy enough, or I don’t have the funds and connections to eat out, or I don’t have the opportunities to sharpen my craft altogether. I intend to become better as a food writer. Everything I need will come as I need them, like a Deus ex machina or an eleventh hour superpower or something. That much I affirm.

To you who is reading this, take the time to think about your dreams and goals in life. Compare yourself from the past, yourself today, and the you that you see in the future. Perhaps, just like me, you have yet to unlock your full potentials and move a step, a skip, a leap closer to what you wish to become.

Whatever it is, I give you my prayers and wishes for success. May the whispers of the heart that dreams like you guide your steps in life.