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Close to Nature – Washington Sycip

In the years I’ve been in Makati, I never bothered to check out this park in the heart of Legazpi Village. The Legazpi Mini-Park was overgrown, had a reputation as a make-out place at night, and, even during the day, it didn’t look safe. When the parking lot across it was turned into a nice park and children’s playground (actually, to camouflage a Meralco substation that a power-hungry Makati needed), I felt even more sorry for it. It looked like it was going to stay forever as MAPSA’s neglected backyard, Makati’s forgotten little patch of green.

Then I noticed some construction and earthmoving in the area. I couldn’t see what was being done inside the park as the trees that surrounded it obstructed my view from the car. All I knew was that it was being spruced up as the new Washington Sycip Park.

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The park, I was told, was a gift from SGV to its founder who just celebrated his 85th birthday and, coincidentally, to mark the company’s 60th anniversary. I thought what a great gift to the city, too!

One Saturday, feeling I needed a walk after a particularly heavy lunch, I finally decided to check it out. I swear it was like walking into a secret garden. The old gazebo was still there, but now there was a pond (was it there before?) with ducks! The old, tangly trees were pruned and the area was planted with flora. It was cool, shaded, definitely more lush and natural than the manicured park across the street. The ground was covered with carabao grass instead of bermuda, the landscape enhanced with some stone sculpture. A couple of modern, colorful installations by Impy Pilapil provided contrast.

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I also learned that soon there would be a butterfly farm, trellis areas, and the gazebo could be used for small functions. I thought it’s just what this busy, congested, polluted part of Makati needed. In fact, after a stressful day at work, it would be great to walk to this park on my way home, slow down, breathe some fresh air and, why not, indulge in some wistful thinking or daydreaming. Like…

I doubt if can ever equal Mr. Sycip’s stature and achievement, much less his energy, to take our company to its 60th year. But if and when – like this venerable old man – I am able to make a difference in our industry and this country, I too would love to be gifted with a park. For me, there can be no greater honor… and it sure beats just having some street named after me.

(The Washington Sycip Park is bordered by Legazpi, Rada and Gamboa Streets in Legazpi Village. It’s open until 10pm.)

Closer to Nature – Calaruega