By Dan Orozco
Have you been to The Garden? I am not referring to the world famous sports mecca in New York, Madison Square Garden? I am not even talking about the various Japanese Gardens in cities around the world.
I am talking about The Garden, Ciudad De Victoria; the newest tourism destination located in Central Luzon Philippines particularly in Ciudad De Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan inside the 140-hectare Philippine Arena. The Garden opened its doors to the public on November 25 last year.
What to find there
Everything? Yes, you got it right. You’ll find everything there. For starters, as soon as you get there, several trolleys provide you with a free ride (yes, it is free) and a tour around the tourism enterprise zone. Touring includes showcasing the Philippine Arena, the largest domed arena in the world as attested by Guinness World Records during its inception in July 27, 2014 which was Iglesia Ni Cristo’s centennial celebration. Coasting along will be a view of the Philippine Sports Stadium otherwise known as the New Era University Stadium, a football and track stadium.
At the end of the trolley ride you will be ushered into the doors of The Garden.
Safari clad personnel at the façade welcome you with smiles as bright as the LED illuminating the entrance to the tour.
The first part of the tour provides you nature at its best. There were a lot of flowers. They even carry a lot of cactus breeds in the Cactus Land section.
Plus, cultured Bonsai and indoor miniature garden plants. Schools of Koi swim around the pond, surrounded by the best species of birds: Lovebirds, Amazon Parrots, Canaries chirping all over The Garden.
The Garden is like a theme park, boasting of a big carousel ride, inflatable balloon park, seesaw park and it’s newest attraction, The Planetarium at the Garden Dome Theatre. Pretty much defines the educational part of the tour.
Impressive? Wait, there is more. You’ll be amazed by the animals.
Animal world, inside The Garden
Earlier, I did tell you it has everything. Indeed, it also has a number of exotic breed of animals that you can’t find elsewhere. The Animal World gives you a glimpse of a desert camel, white lion, Bengali tiger, wild bear, ostrich, llama, horses, snakes, different breeds of monkeys, crocodiles (not from congress though, LOL) and all other animals that maybe classified as rare. Love those plants and love those animals. But wait, there is still more.
Selfies, Café and souvenir shops
After the spectacle around the Garden, what could be more satisfying than a cool drink or maybe a sip of hot coffee and dessert at Embrace Café and restaurant. A note to finer sensibilities: the establishment is an equal opportunity employer for waiters who have physical impairments. And the souvenir shops can remind you of your time here with T-shirts, sports shirts, caps, mugs, towels, watches and fridge magnets — all at reasonable prices.
Finally, if you plan to get married, or do a photo shoot, The Garden will be there for you. Selfie, Groupie, Portrait or even Wacky pictures.
The Garden is open every day from 8 am to 11pm. Entrance fee is PHP 200 for adults and PHP 100 for kids 6 years or younger ($4 for adults and $2 for kids, not bad).
So next time you’re in town, see for yourself The Garden, closest you can get to Eden.