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Have you heard of ‘water bonsai’?

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DE LA TORRE and his water bonsai products at Anvaya Cove. Photo by Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Contributor

Environmentalist Edwin de la Torre from General Santos City in Mindanao  now based in Olongapo City, Zambales, was “shocked” one evening while watching the TV show “Animal Planet.” He learned that there was a certain sand, a piece of earth, that people ate. In fact, it was processed into natural mineral tablets given to astronauts.

That set De la Torre to thinking. There could be a source of income for him here and, more importantly, of livelihood projects for others needing assistance.

According to the artisan, this kind of sand can found be in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. He found it in the Visayas. From there, he was able to come up with sand granules which when dissolved in water can make plants and flowers grow to bonsai size. De la Torre (09267063210) calls this “Powder Grower.”

This is available in sachets which sell for P50 per. The water-bonsai artist has a stock of more than 5,000 of these sachets.

De la Torre, assisted by loyal aide-de-camp Ernesto, demonstrated his modus operandi to this writer recently.

DE LA TORRE preparing for a demo. Photo by Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Contributor

The demo lasted only for about ten minutes. He poured the powder grower into a small glass vase with 1.5 liters of water, shook the vase well, allowing the sediments to settle at the bottom. Then he took cuttings from plants and flowers and immersed these 1-2 inches in the water, cut styrofoam into pieces as a kind of buffer, and placed white pebbles over these.

As a final touch, he tied a ribbon around the neck of the vase, to make it more attractive. And—voilà—we have the finished product.

There are 11 steps in the procedure, which have just been summarized here for lack of space. De la Torre has demonstrated his brainchild in seminars at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City, Angeles City (for special children), at a correctional institute, communities in Pasig City and many other places. He has exhibited in Congress, and his activities have the support of the Department of Education in Central Luzon (Region 3).

The seminars are conducted in Tagalog, with an open forum. After each seminar, sales of the sachets always increase, bringing him and Ernesto badly needed income (De la Torre, 38, has a family to support).

Those who buy the sachets, carefully following the instructions, go on to create their own water bonsai, make these as attractive as possible, and sell them at a profit.

Sometimes, however, the profits go to the wrong people. De la Torre heard that once in Davao City, a buyer of the Powder Grower sold the finished product to a doctor for P500, who then sold the piece for P1,500.

One can make many things out of the water bonsai, like a lampshade.

De la Torre is a staunch environmentalist, calling attention to pollution in the cities, outdoors as well as indoors. His dream is to have every urban home its share of plants and flowers (and, of course, water bonsai), so as to minimize the “silent killer” that is indoor pollution.


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