Saturday, October 29, 2011

Flower Market, Market!

The flower stalls at Market Market!
A bevy of flowers
Instant flower corridor
I was at Market Market! this morning.  I was surprised to find the flower section transformed into a second Dangwa.  The stalls were stacked with all kinds of flowers. There were also makeshift stalls where you could have made-to-order arrangements.  It was starting to become a frenzy.  The commotion will probably build-up more towards the next few days.  Really shows how much Pinoys honor their departed loved ones.  I myself will be making the pilgrimage to North Cemetery on November 1 to visit my mom.  But will probably carry orchid blooms coming from my own garden, from my mom's own pet orchids.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Mystic Balete Tree of Baler

The Baler balete
The super root structure
Into the cavity
Today we got to see the 500 year old humongous balete tree located in one of the remote barangays of Baler municipality.  The historic tree has long been standing as one of the pride of Aurora province but sadly has been deemed a tourist spot. It constantly is plagued by influx of tourists and enterprising locals. Now we were among them, trying to check out the marvel of this fig tree's natural wonder.
Ficus hugging
The balete is a Ficus, probably F. baleteF. philippinensis or a close relative.  It is a strangler that probably started from the branches of another tree bringing out numerous aerial roots and branches over time.  The five hundred year history has built a formidable fortress of root network.  It already choked its former host and remnants of it have vanished without a trace.  In its place is a cavity void allowing people to climb the magnificent tree.  Local children are the expert climbers, doing the feat to the amusement of spectators and of course a fee.

The Ficus' side view
My companions from U.P. Diliman number 30.  They tried to encompass the diameter of the balete tree by measuring it collectively at arms' length. Thirty was not enough to circle the tree trunk's circumference.  But some faculty, especially the history and theory of design teachers were hesitant in joining in. They said they felt the presence of elementals and a couple of 'tikbalangs' (supernatural beings half man half horse). The tikbalangs were apparently sleeping and the U.P. Arki crowd's commotion was disturbing them.  So we decided to cut our curiosity short and head back to our hotel, to leave the supernatural beings in their tiresome peace. The balete's super structure will give them the proper shelter they need for their mystical slumber.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teachers' Baler Weekend

Mam Espina and paparazzi
Teachers in frenzy inside bus
I am surfacing from checking duties to join the other Arki professors in a weekend trip to Baler in Aurora. We left U.P. Diliman exactly at 6 am and boarded luxurious Genesis buses enroute to the Western Luzon town.  After a very comfortable ride through the NLEX and the rice fields of Nueva Ecija, we reached Pantabangan and the Border of Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya at around 10 am.

Down the Pantabangan waters
Our very animated dean, Arch Mary Anne Espina, could not resist forcing us to alight from our comfy transpo and immerse ourselves into the spectacular view of the dammed waterway.  We walked towards the main highway, obvious as tourists to onlooking locals. My companions took their wacky shots and mountain man poses. And while they were doing it I was surveying the trees at the roadway adorned with local orchids. I found a flowering butterfly orchid which I think is Phalaenopsis aphrodite, but I still have to confirm with the experts. There were other orchids which i think would be more suited for higher altitude growth.
Bahia de Baler

Platycerium coronarium
An hour after we reached Baler and Bahia, our home for the next 3 days.  Bahia de Baler is a small inn with cozy rooms designed by Arch Espina. It had a very simple landscape.  But nevertheless it still delighted me because it had Platycerium coronarium specimens and large Aspleniums integrated into some nooks and crannies. Hopefully I will get to explore Baler and its hidden treasures in the next couple of days.  It would mean more  blogs about them if I do.  Let us cross our fingers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flowers from the Visayas

Pittosporum pentandrum
 Quick Post: I was checking my plants in the garden and found 2 of my seedlings from seeds now tall and flowering:  The first one is Pittosporum pentandrum, which I brought back from a friend's property in Bohol.  My specimen is now taller than I am and flowering.  The flowers are frequented by bees.  The second one is Tabernaemontana which I collected from a resort in Puerto Galera in Mindoro.  3 specimens grew from seeds and brought out minute white flowers. The flowers developed into the unique seed pods.  Can't wait for them to turn red. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Trees Students Used

Sorry I have not been blogging lately because I am checking students' plates and exams.  Look at the pile I am hurdling to check. And it is just one pile for one subject, I have 2 more! Just imagine how much paper students use in a semester. How many trees were cut to make such pile of useful paper?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pressed for Time

Roan and Eric in one corner
Roan holding her new find
This is Roan and Eric. They are taking their biology lab subject in PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) requiring them to create herbarium sheets. For the past weeks they have been combing the different garden shops to find 10 members each of the numerous botanical families assigned to them, namely ferns, Commelinaceae (spiderworts), Cycadaceae (cycads) and Vitaceae (grape family).
On the day I met them in Manila Seedling Bank last week, they were seated in a corner with their newspaper pile, wood press and denatured alcohol bottle.  They have just found new fronds of ferns and Cycas riuminiana, and doused then with the
Newspaper and denatured alcohol
denatured alcohol to hasten moisture loss.   The leaf was then flattened onto a sheet of old newpaper, covered and pressed along with their other leaf acquisitions.  Roan just finished collecting the 10 fern species and Eric, almost the same
Pressing the sample in paper
with the spiderworts.  They had a hard time completing the cycads as there were lesser small specimens sold in MSB and the big displayed varieties are quite expensive.   So their hunt was still far from over.  After collecting all, the waiting game to dry will follow and the process to authenticate the plant identities.  The semester's end is nearing, which gives pressure for them to find their sought after species at the earliest.

Plywood to press on the samples

I have not heard from both Roan and Eric, whether they finished their goal of getting the required plants. But one thing I am sure is that both of them have found a new respect and love for botany. In the past days they have gone through the numerous members of their four assigned families, learning more about the varieties and the beauty of plants in general.  I heard Roan say she was starting to love plants.  Eric on the other hand brought home seedlings of 2 cycads. Hopefully we add 2 more young ones into the ranks of plant lovers in the country.
Anthony Arbias helps both to sort out the fern samples

Monday, October 3, 2011

SM - Sayawan Mall

I was eating my lunch in Max's resto over at SM Makati.  Suddenly loud folk dance music played over the public address system and sales clerks of the nearby Kultura store went in the middle of the mall and danced.  It took me by surprise, but not enough to hinder me to bring out my trusted camera and take quick pictures of the happy dancers.   They all looked like they were enjoying themselves.  The spectators and diners on the other hand had mixed feelings.  Some seemed not amused and some oblivious to what was going on, but generally people were staring, and a few sported a smile. I for one was glad because it was a different sight to see in the usual mall. My week started bad with bad emails and rain soaked shoes in my first meeting, but the Kultura employees gave a little ray of light into a seemingly bad Monday (the afternoon was filled with more surprises in Seedling Bank but that would be another story).  

And another thing that completed my day was hearing 'Mamang Sorbetero' by Celeste Legaspi. My childhood was filled with memories of these kind of Filipino music like 'Kataka-taka', 'Pipit', ' Saranggola ni Pepe','Limang Dipang Tao', 'Salamat Musika' and a lot more. I should go back to the music store and look for a compilation of such songs.

Next time I am again in the area at lunch time, I will look forward to the the folk dance over at Kultura.   I hope they will dance to other memorable Filipino songs as well.