Secret Garden II at Vargas Museum

Secret Garden II, 2010
acrylic on the wall, plastic bottle crafts from the inmates, grass tiles, found news report, light
part of the Light permanent exhibition at Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines
curated by Dr. Patrick D. Flores


Quezon Provincial Jail Prisoners’ Secret Garden
With their bare hands and the most basic of tools, prisoners at Quezon Provincial Jail have fashioned a secret garden where they have grown plants from seeds recovered from their meals. For some of the detainees - held without charge for more than four years and who the RTC say are now cleared for release - the garden apparently offers a diversion from the monotony and injustice of their imprisonment.
Using water to soften soil baked hard by the sun and then scratching away with plastic spoons, a handful of prisoners have reportedly produced sufficient earth to grow watermelon, peppers, garlic, cantaloupe and even a tiny lemon plant, no more than two inches high.
The revelation of the garden has now been seized on by campaigners, who have urged supporters and families to send them seeds which they will in turn seek to send to the prisoners. They have termed their campaign "Seed of Hope".
The existence of the garden - apparently prohibited by the Quezon Provincial Jail authorities - was revealed by the Lucena-based lawyer Ricardo Clemente who was informed of it by one of his clients, Gerry Tadanao, held at Lucena City since 2002.
Mr Clemente told the local newspaper- City Press Daily that he was explaining some matters to Mr Tadanao on a recent visit when he was told the prisoners already had a garden. " I could not believe it," he said. "I knew they had no tools. If you take in court papers you have to take the staples out. The look on his face as he told me how they had unscrewed the mop handles and used buckets of water [to build the garden] was something wonderful."
Mr Tadanao said he and other prisoners held in part of the prison known as Selda Kinse (15) softened the ground with water overnight and then used the spoons to dig. Every day they managed to loosen more soil until they had enough for a bed for planting. "We have lots of time here," he said.

Secret Garden I -


Paintings by Hidalgo and Luna also part of the permanent exhibition at Vargas Museum