Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Most industrialized countries — the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, most European nations, and even some parts of Africa — experience four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
Among the four seasons, I really like spring; it follows winter and precedes summer. It is the time of the year when flowers are in full bloom. Various colors in different forms come alive before your eyes: red, yellow, orange, blue, violet, pink, and white.
In the United States, spring happens from March to May — yes, only three months. If you happen to visit one of the foothills of Mount Apo (the country’s highest peak), you get to experience spring all year round.
“Once the plants starts to wither, the gardener immediately uproot all the plants and change them with new ones,” explains Richard Reyes, who accompanied us during the tour, on why flowers are always blooming.
A plant nursery is located at the back of the 8-hectare area (100,000 square meters). The plants are raised from seeds, stems, or cuttings until they are ready for transfer as replacements for those already withered.
The plants are handled with care by the gardener. In fact, the leaves of those that are attacked by pests are soaped individually. About 100 people are maintaining the sprawling complex as each 10-square meter has personnel in-charge.
If during a tour you might wonder why most of the flowers are unfamiliar, it is because most of them are imported from other countries. Every day, at least seven trucks of water are consumed to maintain the gardens and their landscapes.
The place is located at barangay Tamayong in Calinan, Davao City. It takes more than an hour (due to traffic and speed limit) to get there. You know you are almost there because you will find some pineapple plantation as you approached; fruit trees like durian and mangosteen also abound.
It is known as “The Garden of Eden Restored,” but most people preferred it to be called the Covenant Mountain and Prayer Center. The reason: there’s a barangay in Toril named Eden, and some visitors have mistaken it to be the place.
“Mountains have always placed a special role in God’s dealing with men,” its website points out. “The laws were given on a mountain. God has chosen a mountain wherein He would reveal His plan to man. God has given His covenant in a mountain.”
The significance of the place is that it is the birthplace of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name. It was here that Executive Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy was born, grew up, and trained spiritually for five years.
According to the human resource manager we interviewed, the building structures were completed within six months of 24-hour non-stop construction in 1999. “With his own team of architects and engineers, Pastor Quiboloy himself administered the construction,” she said.
There are three Millennial Houses, which come in three colors: yellow (where families or couples can stay), blue (specifically for men), and pink (for women). We were given the opportunity of going inside the yellow building, and the rooms inside look like those in hotels.
At first, the place was only for the members of The Kingdom of Jesus Christ. “But five years ago, we opened it to the public,” San Pedro said. They allowed only 100 visitors per day. “If there’s more than that, a special arrangement from the management is needed.”
The place is open from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. Wearing shorts, particularly for women, is strictly prohibited. Closed footwear is most preferred. Visitors are advised to bring their own umbrella to protect themselves from the scorching heat of the sun.
According to San Pedro, walk-in visitors are discouraged. “This is a private place and going inside is a privilege,” she pointed out. “Walk-in visitors may not be allowed to enter, especially if there are some church activities being done. Or the quota of 100 persons is already reached.”
That’s why she advised us to have a pre-booking arrangement first before coming to the place. All you have to do is go to their office at Jose Maria College near the Davao International Airport. For further details, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you get there? From the downtown proper in Davao City, take a jeepney that goes to Calinan. Once you are in Calinan, disembark at the area where there are many habal-habal or motorcycles. Tell the driver that you are going to Tamayong Prayer Mountain, although it is more popularly known as Quiboloy’s. Ask first how much and tell the driver if he can wait for you when you return (the place is far and secluded, and you may have a hard time finding a ride going back).
For those with vehicles, go straight to Calinan. From the Calinan junction, turn left to the town proper, then proceed to the jeepney terminal. Once you passed by the Wangan Bridge right after the jeepney terminal, go straight ahead, going to barangay Sirib. From Sirib, turn right, going to Davao Pineapple Plantation. When you get to barangay Cawayan, take the road going straight to Lower Tamayong (where you could see big signage leading to the Covenant Mountain and Prayer Center). From Tamayong Barangay Hall, turn left, and go straight ahead.