Read about the transformation story of Brgy. 157 Zone 16, Pasay City, now a wellness paradise.

tricycles, pedicabs, and make shift rolling stores parked in the crowded Apelo Cruz Street in Pasay City motorcycle and other junks piled along Apeo Cruz Street in Pasay City

Narrow streets filled with peddlers and local vendors, undressed children collecting plastic bottles around the busy pavements, unpleasant smell coming from a polluted creek, temporary shanties brought about by the fire that recently raged the community is what people typically see and experience when visiting Brgy. 157, Zone 16 in Pasay City.

“Dati, ang aming barangay ay punong-puno ng basura lalo na ang nasa tabing ilog.” (Before, our barangay was filled with garbage most especially those areas along the river), explained Lerna Perdigon, one of the Barangay Tanod.

But behind this unwelcoming scenario, HFI together with the United States Employees Club (USEC) and the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA), endeavored to see hope and the limitless possibilities of community action.

Last March 2017, HFI received support from USEC to transform Brgy. 157, Zone 16, Pasay City from an urban slum to a green paradise where women, men, children, elderly, and the barangay local government work hand in hand for health, wellness, peace, diversity, and inclusivity.

USEC’s support came to a realization last 02 December 2017, when the scorching sun did not dissipate the spirit of the community members, the local government, and even the representatives from HFI and PALA to construct a native medicinal, flowering, and fruit-bearing vertical garden, also known as “Pocket of Wellness”, along the 10-meter stretch of Apelo Cruz Street at the heart of the concrete jungle and overly populated city of Pasay.

An elderly woman hanging recyclable bottles for a vertical garden girl smiling in the camera holding recyclable plastic bottles

As early as 6:30 in the morning, staff of the barangay local government were already clearing the project site while the mothers were preparing recycled bottles which will house the medicinal plants for the vertical garden.

The community-designed landscape gradually took its shape with the use of various recyclable materials and through the hard work and creativity of the community members, mostly women who smashed gender roles by carrying sacks of soil by themselves and installing the recyclable bottles in walls several feet from the ground.

woman climbing up a wall while other women support her to install plants in verticl garden five people planting in a vertical garden

More than 500 pieces of native edible, flowering, and medicinal plants and trees were planted such as Sili, Tanglad, Aloe vera, Pandan, Oregano, Portulaca, Santan, Manzanilla, Yerba buena, Okra, Talong, Marang, Granada, Duhat, and Kalamansi.

In attendance were the zone representatives headed by Barangay 157 Chairperson Joan Flores; HFI Project Associates Angel Melody L. Legera and Lenliegh Hope Luces together with HFI Executive Director Ma. Rebecca Galvez Tan and Vice Chairman Dr. Cora Ańonuevo; volunteers from JZ Galvez Tan Health Club headed by its President, Rose Nartates; PALA members and representatives from UP Circle of Landscape Architecture Students led by President L. Ar. Eric Estonido.

three happy women posing in front of a vertical garden community vertical garden in Pasay City

 “Ngayon, masaya ako dahil may mga tanim at puno na akong nakikita na sobrang ganda. Minsan, mayroon ding mga ibon at paru-paro na lumilipad-lipad sa hardin. Mainit dito sa aming lugar, ngunit pagkatapos magawa ang Pocket of Wellness, palagi na akong pumupunta dito [sa vertical garden] para lumanghap ng sariwang hangin.” (Now, I feel happy because I see plants and trees which bring a beautiful perspective. Sometimes, there are also birds and butterflies that are flying around the garden. It’s hot here in our place, but after the Pocket of Wellness has been established, I always come here to breathe some fresh air), said Lerma, who together with the rest of the community, HFI, PALA, and USEC, are in of the transformation that took place.

Brgy. 157, Zone 16, Pasay City, the once depressing and sordid place transformed into beautiful and invigorating paradise which proved that community action and women power can make the impossible possible.

See more photos of the Pocket of Wellness vertical garden here!

Written by Angel Melody Legera; Edited by Dyan Geleen Tuble

 Health Futures Foundations, Inc.
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