The Inbox

An oasis in an urban jungle

By Eimor Santos, VERA Files

Mang Ruben's humble home resembles the Bahay Kubo in the popular folksong by Felipe de Leon.  It is surrounded by  eggplants, tomatoes, string beans and other small fruits and vegetables. Every morning he wakes up to tend beds and pots of these veggies and some herbs like tarragon and oregano.

But a stroll outside his little farm brings him not the chirping of birds just like his childhood  days in Bicol  but the hustle-bustle of vehicles. It's  because Mang Ruben lives in a farm inside the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Ruben Marcellana, "Mang Ruben" to green lovers in QCMC,  is the  assistant agriculturist and caretaker of the 600 square-meter urban farm in QCMC.  The urban farm is part of the  "The Joy of Urban Farming" project of  QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte launched on Sept. 27, 2010.

Also called Task Force Greening, the project is in partnership with the Department of Agriculture the Department of Science and Technology and the Earth Angel Sanctuary.

Carrying out Belmonte's Green project is a team  headed by an in-house agriculturist, Mang Ruben, and three gardeners. In this  summer's intense heat, the team has to water the plants three times a day. That requires them to stock water at night to keep the soil moist under summer's scorching sun.

The QCMC farm has become part of the itinerary of  many schools' field trips.

"Kahit isang araw lang, mahipo nila yung lupa (They can feel the soil even for a day)," Cristina Perez, Project Development Officer  said of the benefits of exposing city children from exclusive schools to nature.

Perez also said the urban farm  helps the children appreciate vegetables. She hopes that knowing more about the how vegetables are produced would encourage children to like to eat them.

Many Quezon city residents  are regular visitors of the QCMC farm  and Mang Ruben is more than glad to share with them tips in gardening. He even gives out free seedlings.

Businessman Alfred Muhi from Project  8 is a frequent visitor and enjoys exchanging gardening notes with Mang Ruben.

In a city where most of the residents do not have the luxury of land, urban farm advocates the use of containerized gardening, planting seedlings in recycled 1.5 liter bottles, styrofoam containers and pots.

"Through this, we can plant even in the little spaces of our house," Mang Ruben said adding that  during stormy days these pots can easily be moved to some covered place to avoid drowning.

Mang Ruben and his gardeners also make use of vermicomposting, a process that uses worms, African nightcrawlers in particular, to turn garden and kitchen waste into fertilizer.

Instead of using commercial and chemical fertilizer, dried leaves from the park and kitchen waste from the nearby restaurants are collected to produce the organic fertilizer.

Perez said aside from producing food, the project is also contributing to the local government's Solid Waste Management efforts.

Bert Mendoza, a member of the  project's staff, said although the QCMC farm  is just a small part of the 26- hectare circular park, it serves as a demo farm and has inspired schools and villages in the city to have their own  urban farms.

Perez said they are holding  free seminars on urban farming and are giving out free materials to public schools and barangays. They conduct an assessment every three months.

She said within Quezon City, there are urban farms now in Barangays Mangga,UP Campus and Sto. Cristo Elementary School among others.

"We already have 25 farms all in all," Perez proudly reported.

She would like to see Krus Na Ligas, a densely-populated barangay not so far away from QCMC which had been a subject of the United Nations urban planning project many years ago, have its own urban farm. As of now, Krus na Ligas Barangay Secretary Purificacion Agustin  said "Ang meron lang kami mga kangkungan ng mga indibidwal (All we have are some individuals' field of swamp cabbage)."

It's a challenge for  Quezon City barangays to turn green especially because Mang Ruben's urban farm has been replicated in as far as Barangay Manggatarem in Pangasinan.

(The author is a journalism student of the University of the Philippines who is writing for VERA Files as part of her internship. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. She was responding to questions raised by former senior police officer and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of party-list …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options