Thursday, June 21, 2012

Healthy Options - Mother's Garden Experience in Baguio City

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

Mother's Garden: A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

by Trix Deseo
posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The directions printed on the small flyer I got read:

From City Hall, take Naguilian Road (Quirino Hi-way), cross Bokawkan (Buhagan), Ferguson and Escoda Roads. Just before the Baguio City Arc, turn right to Quezon Hill Road 2 (Pilar H. Lim) and travel uphill turning right to (M. Ponce St) landmark is waiting shed. Travel the winding road for 300 meters until Brgy. Quezon Hill Proper Outpost, then turn right to Quezon Hill 1st Road for 100 meters. Turn left and an immediate right landmark is an old waiting shed to Upper Fairview Road downhill for 50 meters. I wasn't even halfway through reading, when the tiny (and, well, lazy) voice inside of me told me to: “Give up! That place you're eying is far. Stay here in your breezy Manor suite for the rest of the day. Drown in your pillows-- in between the sheets of your fluffy comforters, and enjoy the feeling of idleness. You don't have these luxuries back home in oven-hot Manila.”

I looked around the room. Tiny voice is right. I don't have the leisure of doing nothing in such a comfortable place back in Manila. It's my first time to revisit Baguio after, what, two, three years? And I'm supposed to revel in Baguio's tranquil, not seek out far-flung restaurants with directions that's a paragraph long. How bad is it to spend the rest of the day doing nothing?

I was 90% convinced to stay-in and forgo the long trip to Mother's Garden (the restaurant from the flyer) when I made the wrong move: I gave the flyer a second and more thoughtful look. There it was, a tiny 1x1 ID photograph of a pig-- staring at me with those 'piglet-pig' eyes, begging me to visit her in the restaurant's “petting zoo”. “When will you ever have time to revisit Baguio? Next year? The year after next? You may never get to see me then. Please come,” the piglet said (in my crazy head, at least). (Note: Just so you know, I'm known to have a soft spot for all things cute and an even softer one for those who are both cute and alive. I'm slightly nuts when it comes to animals.) And that was it. A 1x1 picture of a sad-looking pink pig was all it took to convince me to ditch the comforts of my fabulous suite, and make that 30-minute travel all the way up to Quezon Hill. That and, of course, the chance to stumble upon another gem of a restaurant.

And a gem, I did find.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

The flyer didn't say much about Mother's Garden-- only keywords like “nature”, “culture”, “art”, and “cuisine”, and the pictures only suggested a restaurant with an herb garden and a small petting zoo for kids. So I don't think the owner, Therese Jison, can blame me if the first thing I said upon seeing the whole complex (yes, the property deserves the term) was “Holy, this place is huge! And beautiful, too!” She's probably used to hearing all variations of “Wow!” so all she did when she welcomed me was give me a polite “Thank You” and her widest smile. The experience of stepping into Mother's Garden and meeting Therese was just like visiting a dear friend's jaw-dropping, beautiful house and meeting her uber-cool mom. I then asked Therese if I can look at the entire property before I order a meal. And just like what a cool tita would do, she volunteered to do the tour herself.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

The Garden

Therese's garden is unlike any garden I've seen before. Not only is it the most spacious (it occupies most part of the 2,000 sq m. property) I've seen, the garden also came across as the most systematic one I've encountered.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

Fresh herbs, medicinal plants, and vegetables are all placed accordingly in the multi-level garden that goes downslope. Every step down, Therese would turn back to me and introduce me to the plants. There were ones that I'm familiar with-- the common cooking herbs I love such as basil (pasta!) and kaffir (for Thai Tom Yum). There are also ones that I've heard of but I haven't seen personally, like medicinal Ashitava and sugar-substitute Stevia. And but of course, the strawberries are present, happy in their own patch. “I allow kids to pick their own strawberries,” Therese mentioned.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

On and on she went. To say that I was amazed at all her knowledge about plants is an understatement. While going further downhill, I asked her if she's had formal education in horticulture. She laughed and said she took accounting back in college, then traveled to Europe and the United States for some culinary training. “So you just happen to know all of these!?” I exclaimed. She then told me about her tutorials under Dr. Balaoing, a professor of Agricuture from Benguet State University. “You know, as you grow older, you continually look for things you can nurture. That's probably why I made this garden. I think I only developed my green thumb back in 2009,” she added.

The Mini- Zoo

Our walk downhill wasn't all for the plants. Every here and there, were pig pens, goose ponds, goat lot, and chicken perches. “I take care of them as well,” Therese once more flashed a smile.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

She introduced me to Michelle, the smartest mommy swine in the lot and the very reason I was in Mother's Garden in the first place. “I saw her in the picture! I didn't know she's that big!” the giddy little me enthused. “She's a show off,” Therese said before she instructed Michelle to perform her tricks. After seeing Michelle, I yearned for my own pet pig as well.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful
The author's blurry pic with the pigs

Guests are welcome to feed (with organic vegetables, as they are vegans) all the animals within the complex. “Kids love, love them!” Therese shared then tossed another carrot stick to the baby pigs. I think I met my future self that day.

Restaurant, Playground, and Crafts Shop

These last three components of the entire Mother's Garden complex are within the proximity of each other.

As a restaurant, Mother's Garden serve international fare, mostly using the organic vegetables and meat (except Michelle!), from its own backyard. I was only able to try Mother's Garden Salad (P178) and Tapas (P279) with a glass of wine (price varies) that afternoon as I have a scheduled dinner afterwards, but I was able to spy how surprisingly affordable everything is in their menu.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

An order of Sicilian Chicken or a Beef Burger, for example, will only cost you P149, and an order of Fish and Chips is available at P199. Nothing exceeded P300! When I praised the affordability of her dishes, Therese simply said, “that's probably why couples love dating here, no?”

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

On weekdays (and nights) Mother's Garden is a calm and romantic destination for dating couples. On weekends however “almost 70% of the customers are kids.” The sand covered playground with castle slides and friendly rabbits keep the kids busy at Mother's Garden. Activities such as freehand pottery and carving workshops are regularly held in the Crafts shop area as well. No wonder the kids love it in here!

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

Truly, there's something for everyone in this out of the way gem I discovered in Baguio City. Thanks to the the flyer with Michelle's picture, I discovered a newfound favorite place in the Summer Capital.

Mothers Garden A One Stop Shop For All Things Healthful

I'm also glad that I didn't give in to the little voice that discouraged me to take the long drive up Quezon Hill because, really, how often can you go to a place where you can pick your own salad, feed friendly farm animals, and learn horticulture all in one afternoon? Well, not as often as you can check-in a hotel with a fluffy comforter here in the metro, right?

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