Doc Chester Jardiolin fondly shares his dream come true Zen-type garden—the Alicia’s
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
A true-blooded garden and nature enthusiast, Ilonggo neurosurgeon Chester Jardiolin shares that it has always been his dream to make and provide a unique place where his family and friends could gather and update each other and at the same time, a place which they can call their own. Indeed, no dream is ever unreachable that it cannot materialize, and so, ten years ago, Doc Chester started developing his family’s compound in Cabugao Del Sur, Pavia into a simple but beautiful, inimitable Zen-type garden.
“Our land is a shared land with my brothers. We actually incorporated it. It used to be an orchard where you can find a plantation of mango, citrus fruits, santol, babana, guava and banana trees. Our eldest, Rodney who currently works in Princess Cruises in California is also fond of plants, herbs and gardens. Dennis, who retired in 2006 on the other hand, has his Woodmaster business in the compound while Jerry who is an engineer takes care of all the family businesses way back when we were still not in Iloilo. I was thinking of what’s the best way that we can revive the land which is not solely as a farm, and the clear answer is to transform it into a stunning garden and that started it,” explains Doc Chester.
For five years since 1995, Doc Chester served as an active medical staff in the Department of Neuroscience in Makati Medical Center and in 2000, he went home to Iloilo with his family for good after 5 years of serving as practicing neurosurgeon in the same hospital.
“I thought that it was high time that I go home to Iloilo after Jerry’s wife passed away because of pancreatic cancer. Jerry has been taking care of everything when we brothers were all away. It was also on that same year when our mother decided to go home to Iloilo from the U.S. when she’s still able and healthy. She told us that she fears being brought to a nursing home. At the same time, she needs to be operated for uterine pro-lapse. So she was operated and the outcome was very successful. As the doctor in the family, I felt responsible seeing to it that everything is taken cared of when it comes to our mom’s health. At the same time, my wife, Dr. Mary Ann Te and I decided that our two girls, Katerina Ysabel and Keanna Shatila are growing up, and we want them to study in Iloilo. After all, there’s no place like home,” Doc Chester shares.
Doc Chester developed their family land in Pavia where there’s a tropical Zen-type garden with Momo Dalisay’s artworks, man-made lagoon and pavilion.
“I build the garden as a passion, not for business. I don’t want our privacy to be compromised, that’s why it stays as a private gathering place and of course, we cater guests for special occasions. Also, my artist friend, Momo Dalisay’s specialty is on tropical gardens and landscaping which gives the place a long-lasting, peaceful ambiance.”
After completing the structure in 2002, Doc Chester was thinking on what to name the enchanting garden which he created. Many names came up, but he was thinking of what unites and brings them together as a family. That’s when he realized that there’s only one name that he can think of, and that is—“Alicia.”
“Alicia is our mother’s name. She is the common denominator who unites the family. The garden and what we have created is a tribute to our mother. She didn’t know that it was named after her, and so when we first brought her there in 2002 and she saw the garden, she was teary-eyed. She was surprised and touched when she knew that the place is called Alicia’s. The better time to give her that gift is when she can still appreciate it and where she feels that she belongs to the place. Although Mama passed away last April 24, 2009, we will forever be reminded that she’s with us. Our memories of our mother constantly endear us to her and every time we’re in Pavia, it’s like she’s just with us,” Doc Chester reveals.
Indeed, the amazing garden of Alicia brings peace and quiet time to anyone who visits the place. That is why Alicia is a perfect venue for wedding pictorials as well as other special events, because the very concept of Alicia is a garden where everybody can be free to get together and enjoy the magnificent scenery. At present, Alicia caters the public by operating as a venue for wedding receptions, birthday parties and other celebrations. There is also the newly-opened Alicia’s Bar with its customized magnificent wooden ship-bar courtesy of Woodmaster Dennis Jardiolin.
Alicia garden has aromatic, scented plants as well as vines, herbs and water plants. Doc Chester’s most favorite plant in the garden are the aromatic, scented plants such as the native “ilang-ilang” from the mountains, the biggest of its species. Other ilang-ilang species are just like vines which are not aromatic at all.
“Chanel, a Parisian fashion house founded by the late couturier Coco Chanel specializing in luxury goods (haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, perfumery, and cosmetics among others, uses ilang-ilang because its fresh floral and slightly fruity scent is the base ingredient for Coco Chanel’s fragrance Chanel No. 5 which was first introduced back in 1923 and has since sold millions of bottles. The essential oils of the Ilang Ilang are extracted by steaming the flowers and distilling the liquid,” fondly shares.
Vines at Alicia’s include passion vines, lilies and jasmine flowers. Aromatic flowering vines such as “Easter lily vine” are evergreen woody twiner with large glossy leaves and showy corymbs of fragrant white trumpet-shaped flowers which abundantly grow in the rich soils of Alicia. There is also the “Champaca dwarf” which is famous to be the most expensive perfume tree at the same time a favorite of the Chinese because they believe that fairies live in these flowering-trees.
Water plants like lotus are also very enticing at Alicia’s man-made lagoon. White lotus are shipped from Bangkok, Thailand while the lilies are shipped from Bacolod where there are two types, the first is the light and blooming lilies which include white and lavender lilies and the day blooming lilies which include yellow, peach and blue lilies.
Herbs on the other hand, include all kinds of basil leaves from sweet basil which is considered as the most useful to lemon, thai, purple and holy basil.
Below Alicia’s pavilion is a man-made lagoon where ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp, also known as Japanese carp or “koi” are commonly kept for decorative purposes in outdoor ponds and water gardens. There are also astounding water plants which can be found in the pond such as the horse tail, bull brush and blue angel. Another common site at Alicia’s is witnessing native turtles traverse from the pond to the land.
Having a wonderful, superb place like Alicia’s in Iloilo indeed is something the Ilonggos have to be proud of. Visiting this splendid garden is worth the unforgettable trip.
In closing, Doc Chester shares a quote, “It’s been said that life is like a garden. Every small work of kindness and every thoughtful gesture is like a tiny seed, and when you plant these things happen. Smiles appear, dreams blossom, and love takes roots and grows.”