Broken windows and gardens

Chit Juan

Chit Juan

After doing his early morning run on his treadmill and relaxing at his patio, Jun Ynion, fitness buff and father of six, smelled something really obnoxious. It could not be his garden flowers. The stench was coming from just beyond his property fence. He drove around the block and saw this vacant lot which was being used as a dumpsite by uncaring neighbors.

Being the neat freak that he is, he wasted no time in finding out whether the “dumpsite” was a property that was on the market. Luckily, it was for sale and Jun wasted no time in checking how to go about owning the relatively small piece of land.

The village had small cuts of 200 to 300-square meter per property and it was not such an exorbitant amount.

Six months later, Jun proudly showed us his work of art and his determination to beautify his surroundings in this middle class enclave south of Manila. He went to work and developed the garden, filled it with lush ornamentals and accents of brick and natural wood for staircases and house motif. The house is really a Spa house as he calls it. It has a massage room, a sauna and Jacuzzi and complements his gym area and his residence.

He toured us around the “soon to be finished” spa and I can already imagine lying on one of the massage tables with a view of trees and a lot of nature from bay windows made specially for the “haiku” experience.

The garden is lush and you hear the rustling of leaves and you can almost hear the waterfalls that are natural, instead of canned music in an urban spa salon.

Jun Ynion’s former dumpsite

Jun Ynion’s former dumpsite

So, did he just complain about the stench and the sight of the dump? Nope. He did one better and transformed it into a paradise-like garden. I am certain all that waste that decomposed years before also contributed to the health of the soil. Today, we see green instead of thrown away wrappers and domestic garbage. And today, his community, probably by osmosis, has adopted a cleaner and greener way of life.

And criminals have chosen to do something else or go somewhere else. The crime rate in his village has come down also because they know dumpsites are not welcome and therefore, there is no space for “broken windows.”

And this is something we can do in our own backyards, in our own villages. Clean and green them. I remember the theory “Broken Windows” practiced by Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and many other police and criminology experts. It was also mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Tipping Point.

From Wikipedia: “The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signalling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.”

See? If you make your enviroment clean and you do not encourage further disorder, crime will go down and citizens will feel safer. If you let “broken windows” be, criminal elements feel “at home.”

I think what Jun did in his village is a good example of the “Broken window” theory. If you fix your environment, the crime will be less and bad minds will change their minds if not go elsewhere where the windows are “left broken”—such as dumpsites that are allowed to stay as dumping grounds, even if it is right under your nose, literally.

Can you imagine if each dumpsite we see around became a garden? It would be the best anti-crime move we would have done.

Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at


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  1. Great article for a man who would be soon the new chief village of Brgy. San Pedro, Laguna. Keep up the good work, sir Jun Ynion. May your good tribe increase.