Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Garden of Pundacion Pacita

After literally running around Basco (by foot), going to and from both the DENR and ENRO offices to clear out permits for a few arius seedlings (which came from the agriculture office nursery) to bring back to Manila and study (the Basco airport is strict in allowing flora samples to ship out as Batanes is a protected area), I met up again with Cathy and Pinky at the town square and contacted a tricycle to bring us to our last Batanes destination, Pundacion Pacita. This is a unique hometel tribute to the late artist Pacita Abad. The Abads are well known sons and daughters of Batanes, they have artistic as well as political legacies in the province. It was a little hard to choose the driver who would take my 200 plus ehem ehem pounds frame up the steep slopes leading to the place. After one tricycle driver change, Mang Larry agreed to take us to the Pundacion and wait for us. As I mounted the back of the driver, I could hear the voices of some by-standers at the nearby general hospital. They were amused at how the small tricycle could fit us 3, particularly big me.

Surprisingly Mang Larry maneuvered his tricycle with a certain lightness and at no time at all we were up a steep narrow road with breathless views at both sides. At our left was the majestic Mt. Iraya, Batanes's highest peak and to our right, the steep hills leading to the Pacific Ocean. It made me realize that after 3 days of experiencing the best of Batanes and probably the Philippines, there still was something to expect, to top them all. Then the Pundacion Pacita came to view.

The Pundacion and the adjacent buildings stand on a sort of natural pedestal against the valley cove and the Pacific Ocean background. To get there our tricycle followed ridge roads lined with dwarfed vegetation. The roads were steep but still manageable for Mang Larry. Turned out he lived in the same barangay, that is why he was the only driver willing to take us there. After a minute or so we emerged back into an open area on top of a hill. The ocean was already evident at almost 180 degrees angle. At our front stood the quaint house of the Abads, flanked with probably the most manicured lush garden I have seen. And at a far right, the Pundacion Pacita building still hovers against the blue raging water and regretfully a cloudy sky (something had to be wrong in that almost perfect view). To see the place was experience enough (for someone like us who could not probably afford the night stay at Pundacion Pacita), but to our delight, we were allowed to admire and take pictures of the beautiful garden.

The garden of the Abads and Pundacion are reminiscent of English or country gardens. But of course the plants used were familiar landscape items (to me). If I did not know that most of the plants were actually shipped from Manila (a friend told me), I might think that the choice for the garden are Batanes natives. For one the Batanes staples like arius (Podocarpus costalis), riwas (Drypetes falcata) and the voyavoi (Phoenix loureiri) are present. They were coupled with tsaang gubat (Carmona retusa), kamuning (Murraya paniculata) and some other Philippine native species. Almost all were shaped and trimmed down, like how the Ivatans trim the arius and riwas in Basco and the town square.

After a few wacky shots and a little lounging at the garden benches, Pinky, Cathy and I decided to walk on foot going out the ridge road, leading out of Pundacion. While walking we let Mang Larry follow us on his trike. As we emerged the vegetation flanking the road right of way, we again made our final look at the Pundacion against the natural marvel of a scenery. It might be some years before we could see the same sight again and we hoped that if we do get to come back, we still would find the same breathtaking views we experienced in this journey. We hesitantly alighted Mang Larry's tricycle for the nth time and made our way down back to Basco and eventually to Seaside Hotel. There we began to pack our bags and readied ourselves for our trip back to Manila the following day.

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