Every time I pass by Old Balara, Quezon City, I couldn’t help but smile every time I see the island between the roads in lush greens. I have noticed since June, squatters in the area have planted small vegetable gardens.
Old Balara is where the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewarage System (MWSS) is located. It’s also a short-cut road to Commonwealth.
The reason why I write this is because according to SWS survey, there are 4 million Filipinos experiencing hunger right now. If this country were Africa, I would say that it’s a difficult scenario. However, we are blessed with tropical climate, and fertile land.
Because of budget constraints, poor households have converted the islands in Old Balara into small vegetable gardens. These are simple ways for the poor to have a sustainable life in the city.
There’s also a new way of planting that doesn’t actually need land – they call it vertical gardens. It’s a big rave in Europe right now because they grow vegetables in buildings.
When I used to work for the Israeli Embassy, I had a very good conversation with the Agriculture Attache. He told me that “Agriculture can help your country alleviate itself from poverty. You have very fertile land, and yet you don’t use that opportunity. You would rather import rice in other countries. But if you concentrate in developing your agriculture, imagine the money you could save.”
It’s true. Filipinos, however, like to complain and blame. This time, people should really follow the Old Balara vegetable road island- I really think it’s an ingenious idea.