Bamboo hub opens in Antipolo

Visionary environmentalist and founder of Carolina Bamboo Garden, Carolina “Kay” Gozon Jimenez, aptly likened her bamboo garden to a classroom of untapped knowledge, as the botanical oasis unveiled its Bamboo Museum along with its exquisite Bamboo Organ to the public last October.

Against the idyllic backdrop of the garden, Jimenez seized the moment to spotlight the longstanding underappreciation of bamboo, all while unveiling two of the garden’s latest attractions.

With great pride in his mom’s remarkable achievements, Butch Jimenez and son Miguel graciously assumed the roles of hosts and took the microphone to lead the event.

The gathering was graced by numerous close relatives, among them her husband, the former president and CEO of GMA, Menardo Jimenez, son Joel and her sister, Florencia Gozon-Tarriela.

Carolina Jimenez(PHOTOGRAPHS BY Ayunan Gunting for the Daily Tribune)

Jam-packed occasion

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the Bamboo Museum.

Guest of honor Senator Cynthia Villar delivered a heartfelt message to the guests, reflecting on her own connection to bamboo during her time in Las Pinas, where the Last Bamboo Organ, a national cultural treasure and the sole surviving 19th-century bamboo organ in the Philippines, has stood the test of time.

“In a world facing environmental challenges, bamboo’s role in climate change is invaluable. Its sustainability and versatility echo our vision for a harmonious and environmentally conscious community,” she said.

The event was also attended by Antipolo 2nd District Councilor Edward O’Hara and Mariano Bacani from the Antipolo City Tourism Office.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by the Jimenez couple, Senator Villar and Councilor O’Hara, and the release of butterflies by the distinguished guests, attendees were graciously invited into the newly inaugurated Bamboo Museum.

“I like to teach, at gusto kong ipakita ang maraming bagong uses ng (and I want to show the many uses of the) bamboo. Gusto ko rin maipakita ang history ng bamboo kaya naipatayo ko (I also want to show the history of the bamboo, which is why I had the museum built),” Mrs. Jimenez said.

Mrs. Carolina Jimenez and her son, Joel Jimenez, shared a heartwarming moment after releasing butterflies in the garden.

The museum features an array of exhibits, including a bamboo bicycle, various household items crafted from bamboo, an extensive catalog showcasing diverse bamboo species, superb bamboo arts and crafts, liquor made out of bamboo, and intricate bamboo miniatures portraying Filipino culture.

The surprises continued as the guests were ushered to an old-fashioned gazebo where Filipino-style cuisine was served, a meal complemented by the melodic strains of renowned musicians. Kawayan 7, a small ensemble of talented artists utilizing bamboo instruments, serenaded the attendees with Original Pilipino Music that evoked a sense of unity and camaraderie, reflecting the spirit of the occasion. They also extended an invitation to some of the guests, including Sen. Villar and Mrs. Jimenez, to join them in playing various handheld bamboo instruments.

To add a compelling classical music touch to the event, Dean Albert Roldan and his brother, Isaac Roldan, enthralled with their piano and violin performance of timeless classics such as “Salut d’Amour,” “Cativana” and “Hindi Kita Malimot.”

In a fitting musical finale, Jimenez impressed everyone with her exceptional piano skills on the bamboo organ crafted by the Philippine Science Centrum specifically for the bamboo garden. With Tricia Jimenez, they regaled the audience with a heartfelt rendition of “Edelweiss.”

Galing sa garden ko ang mga bamboo na ginamit para sa organ. Kasi naisip ko, ano pa ang ibang pwedeng paggamitan ng mga bamboo ko. Kaya natuwa ako nang magawa [ang bamboo organ] at gusto kong ako ang unang tutugtog doon (Everything that was used in making the bamboo organ came from my garden. Because I thought, what else would I use the bamboo for? That’s why I was so happy when it was done, and I wanted to be the first to play on it),” Jimenez said.

Outside the gazebo, a collection of art and crafts displayed by various organizations featured poignant advocacies interlaced within their creations, with dynamic pieces contributed by street children and women in female dormitory confinement, reflective of their experiences and aspirations.

Experiencing the garden

To fully embrace the benefits of the entire garden, individuals are requested to complete the registration process and secure a guided tour reservation before their visit. This is to prevent overcrowding and ensure that guests can fully capitalize on the exceptional services offered by the garden’s dedicated team of gardeners and tour guides.

Kung gusto nila matuto about bamboo, pumunta sila sa akin. Bukas ang aming place (If anyone wants to learn about bamboo, they can come to me. Our place is open) and we are happy to teach them,” Jimenez said.

Living up to its core mission of increasing awareness regarding the myriad benefits of bamboo, the garden regularly hosts informative seminars every March and October. Most recently, on 22 October, a seminar was conducted where attendees had the privilege of witnessing a showcase featuring some of the 47 bamboo species cultivated within the garden’s premises.

Established on 6 May 2000, in Sitio Tanza II, Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City, the Carolina Bamboo Garden stands as the embodiment of Mrs. Jimenez’s dream of becoming an educator and her profound appreciation for the unique potential of bamboo. 

This transformative endeavor is a joint undertaking between the Majent Foundation and the Ecosystem Research Development Bureau, serving as an invaluable hub for performing comprehensive research in bamboo science.

Demonstrating her passionate pledge to nurture her inner environmentalist, Jimenez is envisioning the inauguration of her own Arboretum by March 2024, wherein the preservation and guardianship of 250 native trees will be a principal priority under her vigilant care.