BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Michelle Aldana made a name for herself when she was crowned Miss Asia Pacific in 1993. A year after her reign, she began her career as an actress with her debut role in Fernando Poe Jr.’s movie titled “’Hindi Pa Tapos Ang Laban.” 

Her acting skills became recognized by critics when she took on the role of Karen in Tikoy Aguiluz’s film “Segurista.” 

Aldana left the Philippines in 1998. She was first based in Germany before she relocated to South Africa, where she raises three kids with her second husband, a British-South African named Edward Burke. While based in South Africa, Aldana never forgot her roots. 

One way that she honors her Filipino heritage is by gardening. She created a garden in their home where she grows a variety of herbs such as basil, sage, and mint, vegetables like peas and kamote, fruits like tomatoes and bitter oranges, as well as different flowering plants.

Aldana grows herbs like parsley, basil, and sage in her garden.

In a recent vlog post, the former beauty queen and actress shared how she looks after the plants under her care. She was away for two months, so her garden needed a little work, but it’s still abundant with produce. 

Her garden consists of plants growing in pots, planters, and even directly in the soil. She maximized the available space as much as she could to grow different kinds of plants for consumption. 

Aldana even suggested in the vlog that she’ll be planting more fruits and vegetables in the future. 

She is aided by a Zimbabwe native named Marcus, who helps her maintain the plants in the garden. But when she’s not busy, she handles the matters in the garden herself. Aldana even familiarized herself with gardening activities like staking and pruning to aid in the growth of her plants.

Marcus is a gardener from Zimbabwe who helps Aldana with matters in her garden.

Creating Filipino dishes 

Aldana isn’t afraid to go down and dirty when it comes to gardening. She demonstrated in her vlog how she personally cares for her plants as well as harvests them.

Aldana harvesting camote from a pot.

One tip that she shared to the viewers is that when their tomatoes aren’t ripe, but the plant has started to wither, they can pick the fruits and leave them in a sunny area for a while to help them ripen.

Unripe tomatoes can be placed in a sunny spot to expedite the ripening process.

Aldana channels her Filipino roots and uses the produce from her garden to cook Filipino dishes such as sinigang, camote cue, and bilo-bilo. This is her way of sharing her heritage with her family as well as encouraging them to eat healthy.

She uses produce from her garden to cook different kinds of Filipino dishes.

She also uses the herbs that she grows to make European dishes like basil pesto or caprese salad. 

The former beauty queen and actress avoids wasting produce from her garden by using them in different dishes as much as possible.  

Aldana has found a home in South Africa. But even though she’s far from the Philippines, she keeps her culture alive through gardening. Her garden has also become a way for her to unwind, commune with nature, and pursue a healthy lifestyle. 

Watch the full video here.

Photos screencapped from Michelle Aldana’s YouTube vlog