Are you familiar with London’s Kew Gardens or the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew? The world’s most popular botanical gardens which is located in West England has an area of 132 hectares (326 acres) which boasts a collection of about 50,000 different plant species as well as many impressive buildings such as the Palm House and the ten-story Pagoda.
Based on the latest testimony of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado at the Senate hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati building last October 8, former Makati City mayor Elenita Binay possess a ‘royal taste’ that made her replicate the grandeur of the palace even at the expense of the people she served.
Like the Kew Gardens, which was originally the garden of the Royal Family’s summer palace which was later opened to the public, the alleged Binay version also shares some amenities that resembles the majestic estate.
“Iyan po ay kinopya ni Dra Binay doon sa…Kew Gardens sa London na ako ho ay pinilit niyang makadalaw diyan. Hindi ko po alam na gusto pala niyang kopyahin. ‘Yun pong bahay diyan na makikita ninyo, sang-ayon po sa kasaysayan, iyan po ay ginawa ng mga prinsesa at queen ng England at naging kagawian nilang pasyalan ‘yan,” Mercado told the Senate panel.
(Dr. Binay patterned their garden after the Kew Gardens in London. The house you see there, according to history, was built by the royals of England and was their place of leisure.)
Mercado further stated: “Gaano kalaki ang ginawa ni Dra Binay sa kaniyang garden? Hamak na mas malaki sa ginawa sa London. At ‘yun hong kaniyang bahay ay hamak na mas malaki din sa ginawang pahingahan ng mga prinsesa at reyna.”
(How large is the garden? It’s bigger than the one in London. And the house is much bigger than the rest house of the princesses and the Queen.)
The garden, as reported, is one of the special features of the Hacienda which was built in a 350-hectare farm that supposedly spans four barangays in Rosario town in Batangas province. It is said to reflect a colorful narration of the Binay family’s expensive taste and hobbies.
As described by Mercado, the hacienda is six times the size of the 58-hectare Luneta Park, 10 times the size of the Araneta Center in Cubao, and half of the entire city of San Juan.
Among the other luxurious features of Hacienda Binay, as revealed by Mercado, includes an air-conditioned piggery, a mansion with a resort-type pool, a showcase of Mrs Binay’s imported orchids, a horse ranch, a 40-car garage, man-made lagoons, an aviary, and a fighting cock farm.
Out of the total 350 hectares, the former Makati vice mayor said 150 hectares were developed, complete with road networks. He further detailed in the senate hearing how the Binays acquired the property, which he estimated to be valued at P1.2 billion ($26.77 million*).
An official statement from the Office of the Vice President was later issued which categorically denied ownership of the property.
Binay’s camp claimed that the lessor of the property is Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., operator of Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.
Joey Salgado, Binay’s head of media affairs, reiterated that Binay’s JCB Farms only used to be a mere tenant of Sunchamp Park. But since 2010, Salgado said Binay had divested himself of his interest in JCB Farms.
Mercado, on the other hand, also showed videos of conversations with local residents showing that the property is a well-known property of the Binays.