I would like to share with you my recent travel [Yes, we were able to travel within the NCR+ Bubble since we adhere to the health & safety protocols set by the IATF] to Tartaria, Silang Cavite. To begin with, I’m not exactly what you can consider a plantita but I like to travel and I missed seeing my travel buddies and friends Daryll and Rence whom I haven’t seen for two years since the pandemic. Hence, when I had the opportunity to go out and see them, I immediately said yes. And I’m so glad I did! Because such travel brought me and my husband Jason to a place I never even knew existed.
|My husband Jason & I with friends Rence and Daryll|
We went to this hidden gem of a plant gallery/nursery garden in Tartaria, Silang Cavite called Arid & Aroids. Arid & Aroids is a 3,000 square meter land converted into a tourism-friendly venue for horticulturists, plant collectors, and the like. It will also be the home of the soon-to-rise “Jungle Paradise” set to open by September 2021.
|Mr. Neil "Boyet" Nanigan, co-founder and proprietor|
Arid & Aroids is the brainchild of business partners Mr. Neil “Boyet” B. Ganigan and co-founder, Dr. Jae Silvestre. They have been collecting plants for a number of years and started their succulent collection about a year ago and now includes adeniums, agaves, small Madagascar euphorbias, sansevierias, pachypodiums, and yuccas among many others. They propagate their plants at their nursery in either Bulacan or in Silang.
|Images from Daryll Villena|
They have collated various plant species from around the globe. “The country has had its share of plant species because we have the most diverse biodiversity and ecosystem. The Philippines is home to the world’s most renowned Araceae farms and botanical gardens yet we still do not have our own Arasceae breed. It is our dream of having one in our country,” shares Mr. Ganigan during the event.
Arid and Aroids is the top producer of variegates Sansevieria in the world. The plants are genetically altered by one of its co-founders, Dr. Silvestre himself. Other countries that have developed variegated Sansevieria are countries like the USA [Florida] and Germany.
“The Philippines have yet to make a name in the horticulture industry. Thailand is the mecca of plant people and it is one of our goals to mark the Philippines to become the center of plants in Southeast Asia because we have a mega-diverse vast collection of flora here. There’s just so much potential.”
Arid & Aroids gave the locals a sense of Hope
With tens of millions of people losing their jobs or seeing their working hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing crisis has disrupted labor markets around the world at an unprecedented scale. The latest unemployment figure in the labor force survey has about 4.2 million Filipinos who are jobless with the Philippines struggling to contain coronavirus infections. The locals from Silang were indeed blessed to have Arid & Aroids who provided opportunities for them to earn. AA Living Gallery has a livelihood program for people from Silang. They have even partnered with the LGUs to help market and sell plants and give the locals financial resources by providing jobs. Mr. Ganigan also mentioned that they would also want to bring back the town of Silang to be known as one of the garden cities in Luzon along with Bay or Bae [Laguna] and Guiguinto [Bulacan].
“It is our vision to develop new plants and new innovations in the horticulture industry. We developed the AA Living Gallery as part of a mental health solution. It greatly helps the people, this pandemic as close space malls are not yet safe to visit. Here, at AA Living Gallery, everybody is free to roam around the open space area and move freely,” adds Ganigan
Here's an amateur video during the event where Mr. Ganigan talked about how they started the business:
They have also partnered with landscape artist Bienvenido Haro to be able to come up with the jungle paradise concept. They installed mossed pillars with aroids-path walks, an atrium for seminars and events, soon-to-install miniature falls accentuated with the rarest Araceae, Philonderon Spritus Sancti nad Monstera Obliqua. In the future, they plan to have a Thai-inspired restaurant, a bed & breakfast and an events place.
Arid and Aroids Living Gallery
The entrance is inconspicuous, it looks just like a simple nursery from the entrance, but Arid and Aroids is such a hidden gem to begin with. Inside this “Jungle Paradise” is the AA Living Gallery where there is a wonderful display of adeniums, sansevierias, agaves, yuccas and other succulents, as well as rare ferns and aroids.
I almost thought I was on the setting of the 1993 film Jurassic Park awaiting to see Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus pass by. Or maybe it was fresh out of the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic book, The Secret Garden. The mossy forest reminds me of upper montane forest” or “cloud forest” found in White Peak, Cagayan Province.
The small agaves at the AA Gallery include Agave x leopoldii with thin leaves and white hairs along with the leaf. Agave filfera fa. Compacta, a beautiful tiny form of Agave filifera with fatter short leaves and white markings. There is also Agave gypsophila, a rare agave with bluish curly toothed leaves.
There are other numerous species, hybrid agaves, and variegated plants. There are also pachypodium lamerei and pachypodium geayi, with their fat spiny trunks that will remind you of small palm trees.
|The unbelievably expensive Philonderon Spiritu Sanctum|
Arid and Aroids Living Gallery is indeed a haven for plant collectors. They have an astonishing array of plants from cute little succulents to majestic figs with gigantic leaves bigger than our heads. Guests can wander through the flourishing garden. My husband and I couldn’t help but marvel at the impressive collection on display. Fawn over spiky cacti, tropical hoyas, abundant ferns and other rare leafage that populate the plant nursery. Visiting Arid & Aroids can be beneficial even if you’re only beginning to develop your green thumb. The friendly staff will be happy to dish out advice on what plants to take home and how to properly take care of them.
Whether you’re planning to purchase one of the many vibrant potted plants or just eager to browse and bask in the foliage, this is a little slice of heaven for any plant enthusiast. If you’re seeking new premium plants of figuring out how to take care of your fledging collections, a visit to AA Living Gallery is one of the best place to go. It is also a nice place if you want to spruce up your Instagram feeds—with their verdant backdrop of herbs, ferns and plants—what more can you ask for?
|Rence Chan with a staff from Arid & Aroids|
|The group with the bloggers|
Arid & Aroids Events
For plantitas and plantitos in Baguio City, you’ll be happy to know that Arid and Aroids is coming up with a guided workshop for the community at The Manor, Baguio City this June 2021.
Arid & Aroids is located at 520 Hoya Road, Tartaria, Silang, Cavite