The heart of echostore

“…  echo of actions, resounding them to the world… “

Chit Juan, Jeannie Javelosa and Reena Francisco, three women with a common crusade, put up the first sustainable lifestyle store in the Philippines at the time when the wave of unjustifiable consumerism reached the tipping point. ECHO Store strikes a balance between what we need to change and what we want to cultivate. It echoes habits, practices — a frame of mind in tune with the environment. Seems like a Herculean task. Sticky issues, economic growth and social justice, are perpetually unavoidable when we talk about the environment.  But then, actions aimed toward empowerment, sustainability and  fair trade are what these three modern ladies are fervid about.

Organic wines made by the principle of organic farming.

Either natural or recycled.

Coffee sourced from Mindanaoan communities.

Supporting community livelihood projects. Buying and wearing one of these unique accessories made by urban poor women is a fashion statement in itself.

More organic coffee options.

Health in a bottle.

Recycled magazine pages instead of plastic bags.

Bought the 3 variants of dark theophilo chocolates — green mango and salt, siling labuyo, and pili and pinipig, which I have yet to try. A little gritty, old-fashioned, super dark with interesting flavors, awesome!

echostore, Serendra, Fort Bonifacio Global City

Photographed by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved

Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens arouse a sense of wonderment

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” ~ Rachel Louise Carson

Amazement struck me when I visited the Northwestern University’s ecotourism park and botanic gardens. During my nursing school days, Northwestern University was still Northwestern College. We had our biology and zoology classes at the antiquated Engineering Building. Our learning experience was limited to textbooks and class discussions. To make the subjects more interesting, our teachers would conduct “name that specie” contests in class. It was quite weird memorizing scientific names or even common names of flora and fauna, and not knowing how they actually look like. My old school has grown by leaps and bounds.

Spread over 7.8 hectares on a hilly area in the southwestern end of San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte, the NWU Ecotourism Park and Botanical Gardens is a breath of fresh air to each and everyone. Over 1000 plants species from 134 families and 123 subfamilies are catalogued. NWU aims to promote the preservation and conservation of the World’s flora, most especially our indigenous Philippine plants that are on the verge of extinction. A member of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the NWU botanic garden is among the 12 largest gardens of its kind in the country, and perhaps, the biggest in Region I, in regard to a broader spectrum of collections.

Butterfly garden to support butterfly propagation

While hiking up and down the park, I found exotic wildlife, and emotions welled up as I focused the camera on my subjects. The place is such a paradise to nature trippers and photographers. Awesome endemic creatures that are hard to find elsewhere are everywhere in this wonderful nature park conveniently situated a few kilometers south of Laoag City.

Learning through a natural atmosphere as beauteous as the Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens enriches one’s spirituality as well. Botanical study and recreational activities such as camping, mountain biking and group training can be arranged.

Rain conservation pond

Solanum pseudo-capsicum or ornamental pepper

Tongue orchids

The NWU continuously adds more species to their vast collection of living plant species as germplasm stocks for horticultural trade to other botanical institutions around the world and establishes micro environments to display the World’s flora according to their system of classification. They implement ex-situ and in-situ conservation practices, and Zero waste management to emulate sustainable natural cycles.

Leea philippinensis, or simply leea

Off-season tomato production

Northwestern University’s vision and mission to help mitigate the effects of climate change and address the man-made threats to our environment exhibit the legacy of world-renowned Rachel Louise Carson, the great biologist, writer and ecologist of her life-long love for nature and the living world.

Find time to visit this relaxing park and nurture that sense of wonder.

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Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens, Payas-Samac, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Philippines Contact: Michael Jay Calaramo (Ecosystem Management and Development Officer) General Manager 0915-7932003/ 0908-5330037 email: nwu_ecopark@yahoo.com
How to get there: From Laoag, turn right on the ‘to Gertes Resort’ signage on the National Highway, a few blocks past the San Nicolas Municipal Hall. Continue driving after Takuat Training Center and Gertes Resort until you hit the Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanical Gardens on your left hand side.

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Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED