Comedy Relief: The Cool Leaf

It was the early 1970s, and 1960s flower power had already evolved to 1970s sex, drugs, and rock and roll…

President Ferdinand Marcos had already declared Martial Law.  The Chinese drug dealer “Lim Seng” had been executed by firing squad and it had been broadcast on national television.  All Filipinos, including the political opposition, towed the line.

But no matter what one does, the zeitgeist prevails.  The 1970s was really the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll…

And “pot” — marijuana — “Cannabis sativa” was the opiate of the times…

It was “hip” and it was widely available.  And as it was in the spirit of the times, many young people experimented with it.  Including the older ones of my generation.

Pare Bits, the majordomo, was a gifted gardener.  Anything he planted grew, and grew well.  Somehow, he found some seeds from the mischievous teenagers, and avid plantsman that he was, planted them on the ground.  They grew, and how…!!!

The marijuana plants were tall with pretty flowers.  They were attractive plants as long as nobody knew what they were…

Soon after the plants had grown, Lola Charing noticed them during one of her afternoon walkabouts.  She, the avid plantswoman, did not know what they were but nevertheless found them attractive, and forthwith ordered a snickering Pare Bits to propagate them so that they could embellish that part of the garden with their lush growth…

So the teenagers had an inexhaustible supply of “pot”… and the sought-after “top growth” at that!!!

Lola Charing’s elegant house stood a mere 30 meters from a police station, and yet the policemen stationed there never “sniffed” anything about the forbidden plants flourishing on the other side of the wall.

Lola Charing’s rose garden was justly famous.  One step into the property and the visitor was greeted with the heavenly scent of hundreds of blooming roses.  The rose cuttings were purchased in the United States, with some coming further afield from England and France.  The rose plants were carefully tended by a staff of gardeners, since they did not thrive as naturally and as easily in Manila’s weather as they did abroad.  Organic fertilizers, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides were applied regularly.  Lola Charing supervised her garden every morning and every afternoon.

So it was perfectly natural that Lola Charing’s family, relatives, and many friends would walk around her beautiful rose garden and admire her plants whenever they would visit her…

Her youngest son, Brother Andrew [ of the De La Salle Brothers ] — who was intellectually brilliant but amusingly naive regarding everyday matters — noticed the remarkably lush growth of the tall plants along the length of the wall where the roses never grew successfully…  He thought that that portion of the garden looked nice, for once.  Decisive man that he was, he directed Pare Bits to plant even more of the unfamiliar but attractive plant so that portion of the garden would improve…!!!

Lola Charing Escudero, a close friend of Lola Charing’s, was an avid plantswoman whose quiet but determined resolve was to raise every single pretty flowering plant in existence at the Villa Escudero in San Pablo, Laguna.  She saw the tall plants with the pretty flowers, wondered what they were called since she had never seen them before, inquired with Pare Bits as to how they were grown, and made him promise to bring her the seeds the next time when he would be sent by my Lola Charing on an errand to the Villa Escudero…!!!???

Lola Gely Lopez, Lola Charing’s best friend, did notice the unusual plants and wondered where in her own beautiful garden they could be incorporated.  A lady of style, elegance, chic, and fashion, she had a “nose” for the “latest,” and she instinctively knew that those plants were the latest in the gardening scene…!!!

Priests and nuns often came to Lola Charing to ask for donations. The Carmelite Sisters came at least once a week to ask Lola Charing, a T.O.C.D. [ Tercera Orden de las Carmelitas Descalzas ] Third Order Carmelite herself, for a little help and to avail of roses and other flowers for their chapel.  The nuns too, unknowingly snipped from the lush marijuana plants for their floral arrangements.

The high point came when Lola Charing was showing Rufino Cardinal Santos around her rose garden after lunch.  Even he found the the tall plants with pretty flowers — arrayed in one long border — remarkably pretty!!!  Bwahahah!!!






All’s Well that Ends Well

It all flourished until the cure-all “Comfrey” plant came along…

Lola Charing ordered that whole border of plants spanning one side of the garden to be cleared so that the panacea “Comfrey” plant — touted to cure diabetes and a host of other diseases — could be raised.  To the end, she never knew that those pretty plants she admired were marijuana plants.

And so, that delightfully naughty episode in our gardening history came to an end.   😛   😛   😛



  1. July 24, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    cousin gia:


    THAT is a better story than mine!!!

    Keep ’em coming, keep ’em coming!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  2. cousin gia said,

    July 24, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    here’s a marijuana story similar to yours, not as hilarious but interesting. have you ever been to lola gely’s famous “flower garden” summer house in baguio? my siblings and i, cousins included, all grew up spending summer vacations and even christmas vacations in that house. it was located in front of city hall behind burnham park. anyway, needless to say, the 2- storey cottage was famous for its flower garden. all the biggest, most colorful and imported flowers bloomed in that garden: chrysanthemums of all colors, sizes and shapes, azaleas, dahlias, snapdragons, and so many other imported varieties lola gely happened to find in her numerous trips to europe. the gardens of the mansion house (presidential summer residence) could not hold a candle to lola gely’s flower garden and tourists would often flock all around our driveway and street just to snap souvenir photographs. lola gely was really proud of that garden and no one in the entire baguio could rival her wondrous garden. anyway, at the back of the house, the caretaker had his “own little garden.” it was hidden away and not really part of the main garden so lola gely really didn’t stick her nose as to what “mang severino” would plant in his little garden. when we’d slyly ask her if she knew what he grew in the hidden backyard, she’d say vegetables to feed his family. yes toto, the plants in his little garden fed his family and put all his kids through college. at last count he had 8 kids. you guessed it, he grew marijuana. ate nana and her friends often harvested from mang severino’s garden. bwahahahaha!!! and lola gely never found out. it’s a pity, that beautiful garden and summer house was sold and it’s now a korean supermarket on one side and a cheap bar on the other side of the lot. everytime we pass by and remember the beautiful garden, we get so depressed and nostalgic for the good old days.

  3. July 9, 2007 at 2:22 pm


    That’s a funny memory of Old Bacolor!!! I love the “aparador” bit!!! *lolsz!*

    The ancestral houses of Old Bacolor were so beautiful. I really miss them. Lahar destroyed so much!!!

    Keep the comments coming!!!

    Toto Gonzalez


    July 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    As a child, my mom Imang Dading would take me to Dona Charing Gonzalez’s house [ Rosario Valdes y Liongson, viuda de Gonzalez* ], where she and others played mahjong. We children played hide and seek. Once, I hid in an “aparador” and saw the miserable, bloody face of Jesus the Nazarene. I was shocked. My playmates were Marilyn and Romy Rodriguez, Carding de Leon, and Mary Ann and Edwin Guanzon. Those big houses in Bacolor fascinated me: the “Bale Sim,” the de Leon, and the Buyson house. Mama tagged me along with her every time she visited her aunt, Lola Maria Angeles Buyson. She was always in her bedchamber, seated on her four poster bed, which was like my parents’ bed and my own in our ancestral house in San Vicente [ Bacolor ].

    [ *”Lola Charing Valdes” Rosario Valdes y Liongson, viuda de Gonzalez of Bacolor, Pampanga was the sister-in-law of my grandmother “Lola Charing Arnedo” Rosario Arnedo y Espiritu, viuda de Gonzalez of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga. Rosario Valdes was married to Emilio Gonzalez y Sioco and Rosario Arnedo was married to Emilio’s younger brother, Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco. ]
    — Toto Gonzalez

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