I’m not really crazy about plants and gardening. I can remember trying to cultivate my own tomato garden and that ended up in disaster. I am, however, into nature and the outdoors.
When I’m around Singapore and the weather is not too hot I head out to the botanical garden – perhaps the most underrated tourist site in the island.
The 150 year old garden have three small lakes, an open concert stage, wide open picnic grounds, long paved running paths and of course, an amazing collection of plants, orchids, trees and arts. It’s amazing how they’re able to maintain the place. Well, organization is what Singaporeans are good at. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve been successful.
Rizal had visited garden all the time that he had been in the area. It must have been a popular destination in the island even then [either that or Rizal was just crazy about plants]. It is said that without Singapore’s botanic garden the rubber industry in the Malayan peninsula would have never took off. The success of Asia’s rubber industry is attributed to the pioneering work of Englishman Nicholas Ridley, the botanic garden’s first ever director, in the late 19th century.
Back in our country, we should be proud that we had the first ever botanic garden in Asia. We had fields in modern Manila dedicated their for the studies and propagation of both local and foreign crops. In Intramuros, Padre Blaco’s garden had been legendary in discovering medicinal cure from humble tropical plants and perennials. Its unfortunate however, that we could no longer find these gardens. They now only exist in the pages of historical textbooks and imaginations.
A friend suggest that all of our problems can be related to our lack of historical sense. I think there’s some truth to his observation. How can you learn from something that isn’t even there?
The first time I visited the garden was in 2009. Recent news say that Filipinos has become one of the biggest tourist in Singapore. The city state appeals to many Filipinos who now have some spare cash for traveling.
Their tourism board are masters in marketing and promotion. Since most people picks their next destinations with their eyes, the Singaporeans made sure that the images and the message of what their small state can offer is out there.
I just hope that the Filipinos that visit Singapore will not forget to travel around their own country. Philippine tourism is not as strong compared to our neighbors, partly because of failed programs. There’s so much our islands can offer. We just have to get our heads together.
Visitor information here