Save the tuba-tuba and bring back the akapulko, please

A family have their photo taken at the Botanical Garden last Good Friday 2019.

THE last time I was at the Botanical Garden at Marfori Heights in Davao City was on November 10, 2018. It was already pretty and there were a few enjoying their morning exercises there.

There was the centerpiece with “Life is Here Philippines” written. There was the giant Christmas lantern gift from Pampanga Province to the left and the herbal garden through a craggy gate to the left of the lantern.

The giant Pampanga Christmas lantern in 2018, when the trimmed plants shaped into the name of the Park can still be read: Davao Botanical Garden.

When I returned during the Holy Week break, the centerpiece and the giant lantern were still there although the plants trimmed to spell the park name need some sprucing up.

The words can barely be read, specifically the “Botanical” part. But over-all, the plants were still very green.

There was an additional feature: the Children’s Playground complete with slides, swings, and a Jungle Gym.

This is a child’s dream space. Just lovely.

Outside the playground gate were the rules for both children and parents.

When I was there on Good Friday, there was a family: Parents and two very young boys, the youngest being a toddler and the other just a little bit older, but no longer toddles. On Black Saturday, I saw another family, parents with one girl around two years old, on their way to the playground.

The playground rules.

I have to come later in the afternoon to see how popular this facility is…

Different folks, different strokes. Teens are practicing a dance, family are having their photos taken, while there are those doing their exercises.

The park is serving its purpose. There was a man doing his morning exercise including planking, another man was doing a brisk walk, the family at the park later on went barefoot on the grass for some “earthing” upon seeing me walking around barefoot, and there was a group of teens doing some dance and photoshoots, aside from the family who was also having their own photoshoot and was reminded by a caretaker that bikes are not allowed in the park. (In fairness, they were posing with a bike and merely pushed the bike in and did not ride it). The father just asked that they be allowed to have the photo with the bike first and they will leave soon after).

The tuba-tuba plant (foreground) and the Akapulko (with yellow flowers) in November 2018.

One thing I noticed though was the missing Akapulko plant. In my first visit last November, I was happy that there was an Akalpulko. In a fast-urbanizing city, it is not difficult to describe an akalpulko because the younger generations no longer see these growing wildly in their backyards. The tuba-tuba plant beside the akapulko also seems in danger of being eradicated as well as a construction is ongoing in what used to be a garden for herbal medicine plants and the reinforcement bars and formworks are strewn around the area.

The tuba-tuba plants with iron bars and formworks strewn around. The Akalpulko is nowhere in sight.

That someone thought of planting the tuba-tuba and akapulko is a stroke of genius, I’d say, because these are two herbal medicine plants that we grew up with in Davao City but whom the younger generation no longer know. That they can be used easily and with quick results (tuba-tuba for joint and muscle pains and akapulko for skin fungal infections) is an indigenous knowledge worth passing on to our children.

A panoramic shot of the park from the eastern corner.

Here’s to hoping that the initial efforts to include plants like these in the botanical garden will be followed through. Please, bring back the Akapulko plant, and add more, like Lagundi and Sambong and Kalabo and Panyawan (Makabuhay) and whatever else we grew up with. In that way, this park will have its distinction from all other parks and we can put a whole different but deeper meaning to the slogan, Life is Here.

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