It is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together. It allows people to do what they love and eventually influence others’ lives for the better.
Such is the case of Haydee Escobañez, 61, a retired elementary school teacher from Navotas City. When she retired, she began growing plants in her home.
Half of her house’s third floor is presently filled with a variety of ornamental plants while her rooftop is filled with vegetables such as patola, ampalaya, kamote tops, alugbati, sigarilyas, eggplants, tomatoes, chili, pechay, mustasa, malunggay, tanglad, onions, and herbs.
“Ako ay nagturo ng paghahalaman sa mga kabataang elementarya. Simula pagkabata ay natuto na akong magtanim sa kadahilanang ang aking mga magulang ay magsasaka,” Escobañez said. (I taught elementary students how to garden. Ever since I was a child, I learned how to grow plants because my parents are farmers.)
The retired teacher also took a course in BS Practical Arts Education, which also covered agriculture, which then augmented her knowledge on planting when she taught in school for 37 years.
Starting a vlog in a pandemic
Because of her age, Escobañez isn’t allowed to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep herself busy, she intensified her focus on her plants. Aside from this, she also began vlogging about her gardening efforts.
“Dahil sa pandemya, naisipan kong gumawa ng mga tutorial video para makatulong sa kapwa ko senior citizens, sa lahat ng mga magulang na nawalan ng mga hanapbuhay at sa mga mag-aaral na nasa bahay lamang para magkaroon sila ng pagka-abalahan at di sila nabuburyo,” she said. (Because of the pandemic, I thought of making tutorial videos to help my fellow senior citizens, all the parents who lost a source of livelihood, and the students who are stuck at home so they can have something to keep them busy.)
Her videos are tutorials that talk about topics such as how to make natural inputs at home as well as how to grow vegetables or ornamentals in an urban garden.
Through her Youtube channel and Facebook page, many learned how to garden and are now thanking her for showing some tips on how to grow plants.
With that, she also encourages others to share their knowledge on gardening so that they can help others learn how to grow different kinds of plants.
“Sa daming challenges na aking napagdaanan tulad ng bagyo, mga peste, pagkabansot at di namumunga ang aking mga halaman, natutunan ko ang mga paraan upang sila ay labanan. Napalago ko ang aking mga halaman at nakapag-ani ng marami,” the retired elementary teacher said. (In all of the challenges that I went through such as typhoons, pests, stunted growth, and my plants not bearing fruit, I learned different ways to address them. I managed to grow my plants healthily and harvest many.)
Gardening is one activity that brings happiness to Escobañez. Through growing all kinds of plants, she manages her stress. And when she sees them happy and thriving, she feels fulfilled in knowing that she’s doing a good job to make them turn out that way. In return, she gets to enjoy fresh and healthy produce from her vegetables.
“Para sa lahat ng gustong matutong magtanim, magsimula na kayo. At kapag kayo ay namatayan ng halaman, tuloy lang at wag sumuko. Sipag at tiyaga lang ang puhunan,” she said. (For those who want to learn how to garden, you better start now. And when some plants have died on you, just keep going and don’t give up. Hard work and determination are needed.)
Even though Escobañez has retired from being a schoolteacher, her passion for teaching still hasn’t waned. She also adapted to modern times by using social media as the platform for her tutorials on how to grow plants which have helped many in their own gardening journey.
For more information, visit Haydee’s Garden on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Haydee Escobañez