Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arki's Blooming Bagras!

The filamentous flowers of bagras
The bagras blooms are a bee favorite
Small but already blooming
Quick Post: I got another bloomer surprise! Last year the UP Arch faculty planted 4 feet seedlings of the native bagras or Eucalyptus deglupta in between Bulidings 1 and 2.  This year some of the seedlings have grown almost person height. One has already exhibited the multicolor bark at only a few inches trunk diameter. The same plant is now heavily burdened with flower.  Just goes to show that good old bagras is reliable for urban greening.    

Toy Fish Crazy

Guppy varieties and bronze Corydoras
Corydoras sterbai and Corydoras julii
Life-like corys
Colorful guppies
I was at Megamall and of course visited Toy Kingdom, where they had the most number of gashapon dispensers.  Gashapon are capsule toys from Japan, which you get by depositing tokens into a bubblegum dispenser contraption. Most of it are anime and cartoon characters, but sometimes they have wildlife series like frogs, crabs, dogs, cats, fish, etc. I have been collecting eversince the nineties.

I terminated toy collecting in early 2000, with the exception of Lego trucks and gashapon animals.  I usually go to Toy Kingdom just to look what is available and most of the time I end up buying nothing. But this visit, something caught  my interest, gashapon aquarium fish!
Paracheirodon simulans, a yellow tetra and a black Corydoras
Paracheirodon axelrodi, a silver tetra and Corydoras
Corydoras close-up
Aquarium keeping was another hobby which I had to let go.  Maintaining the tank took too much of my time and inhibited me to the other stuff.  In 2009, after 9 years of being serious in it, I gave away my fish, aquatic plants and my aquarium set up. Now I have been aquarium free for 3 years.  But sometimes I still get the inkling to get my hands wet and plunge back into the hobby. But realistically schedule won't permit me.

So when I stumbled upon the dispanser full of plastic guppies, Corydoras and characins, I immediately dug bills into my wallet and lined up the cashier's counter.  Went home with a bag full of colorful capsules. Posted pics so that you'll know why I could not resist myself to indulge. Nope, I am feeling no guilt at all!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Urban Fruiter

Sibuyan katmon open fruit
Unopen fruit
Quick Post: I was gifted with a cutting of Dillenia sibuyanensis or Sibuyan katmon a year ago.  A few months ago I posted that the cutting has grown from a 6 inch stem into a 2 feet seedling.  I also has rewarded me with flowers 4 times. Now the plant has come out with an open fruit pod. Talk about resilient!

I therefore conclude that the Sibuyan katmon is a very promising candidate for urban greening. It has nice leaves and bright yellow flowers. It could easily be propagated from cuttings. It fruits and seeds in cultivation. Now I am hoping that the seeds will germinate into nice little katmon plantlets. I am keeping my fingers crossed.  
Seed detail

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Guitar Detour

A wall of light colored guitars
Guitars hanging off to dry
My bro-in-law doing his impressions
I was in Cebu last weekend, with my sister and her family. On our way to the Mactan Shrine, we visited the Alegre guitar shop in Bangkal, Mactan (named after the bangkal tree which was once common but could still be found in the area). I bought my very first guitar, eventhough I do not know how to play. I got one because I  very much appreciated the tedious process how they were made.  

Guitars slowly clamped into shape
In the Alegre shop, we were free to roam around and look how the local craftsmen transform the different wood pieces like lauan, kamagong, langka, acacia, mahogany and a lot others into the precise parts needed to make a world famous Cebu guitar.  It takes around 3 days.  Alegre even labels every guitar with the date it was manufactured to determine age.

Rondalla looking guitars
The Alegre showroom displays a lot of guitars and ukeleles.  They are of varying shapes and color and of course a wide price range.  The more common wood guitars would fetch popular affordable prices, but the premium wood ones like lauan and kamagong would cost as much as 60,000 pesos or more. I even heard that the late Beatle star John Lennon owned an expensive Cebu guitar worth 28,000 pesos about 40 years ago. I bet the same quality guitar nowadays would fetch much higher.

The craftsmen working hard on next week's guitars
Unfinished handles
Expensive kamagong
The many woods they use in manufacturing
It appears my chosen guitar is made of langka, which is a light and common wood.  Lauan and kamagong are expensive because they are rarer to source. Even Cebu guitars are a testament of what is happening in our environment. More introduced trees, less natives.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pili Nut or Not

The popular pili
It has been quite a while since I posted seed pictures in the site as I have not been fortunate to find some the last few months.  But last week  I found 2 interesting species on the Kanawan trail which I was fortunate to collect seeds of.  Both seem to be closely related to Canarium ovatum or what they call the pili nut. The species were not confirmed by Uly but he is suspecting that they belong to the pili's botanic family, Burseraceae.
Seed no. 1 from Kanawan
An inch long
The first seeds, or should I say nuts, we encountered barely on the walkway leading to the Kanawan hanging bridge.  They were all scattered on the trail and I did not even see the tree where it came from.  Seed has a woody cover and 3-sided like the pili nut.  It is smaller, just over an inch long, but has prominent lateral segmentations.  The Kanawan kids say that the locals string this and use it as a necklace, which is hard to believe as they may make a pretty nice natural bead for jewelry making. We also found some fruit with the fleshy part. It smells like a pili fruit. 
Seed no. 2
The second seed is confirmed by Uly as a Canarium but is not sure which species. The fruiting pattern is similar to pagsahingan or Canarium asperum but the fruits are much smaller than the ones I saw on a pagsahingan specimen in the Visayas. Fleshy part smells again like the pili and seeds are also 3 sided.  But the size is interestingly much much smaller.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tailing Me in the Kanawan Trail

The river valley

Crossing the hanging bridge
Uly and his nanay-nanayan Nana Merced
Yesterday I joined fellow PNPCSI members Regielene, Ronald and Ulysses to the Bataan National park, to talk to some of the Kanawan residents.  Reg will be conducting a botanic survey in the vicinity the next month and she was asking the assistance of the community. Uly helped in facilitating for it, and Ronald and I were unsolicited company, just taking advantage of the trip.  It was a sort of homecoming for Uly as he has performed a botanic study here which lasted 2 years and he has not been back for quite some time.

Kids and candy
The edge of the Kanawan trail
I was prepared for the trip, packing my bag light with the bare essentials and of course my trusted camera in tag. Our party managed to cross the hanging bridge and slowly but steadily follow the trail leading to the Aeta settlement.  After a kilometer of uphill trekking, we reached the very first house at the edge of the village.  Uly was already nostalgic as he was started to get recognized by some of the residents, his old friends. In no time at all we found ourselves sitting amidst the community council under the shade of a makeshift shack serving as Kanawan's great hall.  We were warmly received.
Uly, Reg with the barangay captain and some of the residents
The Kanawan view
My kanawan posse, Zaldy, Jomari and Arnold
They even got us refreshing buco!
After settling the pleasantries, Reg's coordination business and a short but hefty lunch, Uly invited us to look around Kanawan which he considered his home for two years. We followed another trail and got to see more of his former neighbors, friends, his then usual hang-outs and the forest plot where he, together with the community, planted native seedlings.  We were accompanied by Uly's former guide, Jo.

Zaldy and Arnold playing around with a bayawak
Uly's old backyard
Arnold and Jomari with Reg
As always, I trailed behind the group in walking to these places.   But I was kept constant company and entertained by 3 small boys who I think got curious of my mascot-like appearance. Zaldy, Jomari and Arnold was tailing us all the way, but most of the time they were impishly darting pass me to remind me I am slow.  Every now and then they would climb  trees we see on the trail, just to show us they could do it and with all ease!  These guys really got me amused.  Their presence somehow made the climb tolerable and memorable.

Good trekking company
In going to the nursery, I asked to stay behind under the shelter of a shanty we saw in one grove, and the 3 boys chose to keep me company. They continued doing their stunts, climbing the GI roof of the small hut.  They only stayed put when I told them I would sketch them, and they did for a short but good 10 minutes, and I managed to do the quick sketch. After 15 minutes,  Reg, Ron and Uly reappered with jo, the guide, and we again were on our feet to continue our way back to the community and eventually went on our way towards home.

The route back, the energetic boys were still doing their thing, climbing trees and picking guava and other fruits off of trees. They even accompanied us way back to our vehicle, a whole 2 kilometer walk from the commmunity. The boys were really funny.  They certainly put the excitement in an otherwise tiresome and gruelling walk! Hahahaha!
Resting at a large family abode at the edge of the forest

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Land of the Large

Large royal palms 
Refreshing gazebo
Sunday, a few weeks ago, I went with the Metro Home team to Silang, Cavite to interview Benny Velasco for the magazine. The architect was very gracious and he had a very nice garden with an enviable selection of palms and cycads.  We had the opportunity to view and take pictures of the amazing garden. It will be out in the August issue of Metro Home and Entertaining.

Large pungapung
Benny took us to an old farm which belongs to a friend in Amadeo and toured us around the rolling terrain of the rustic town. Here we found numerous exotics like anahao palms and royal palms growing to large sizes Some parts of the property had nice gazebo tucked underneath the shade of the landscape palms, but a few  areas still remain underdeveloped.  

Large Alocasia, bigger than Devi, assoc ed.
The large antipolo tree
In these untouched natural pockets, the old vegetation of Cavite still is trying to hold on, establishing a foothold in the fragile environment. In a steep slope, very large specimens of Alocasia macrorrhiza grow taller than people. Beyond the cover of woody shrubs and weeds, pungapung or Amorphophallus paenifolius leaves appear like strange looking umbrellas with spotted green stems.  And at one corner, a towering specimen of antipolo looms over the gorge, covering the steep ravine with a huge pile of dried discarded leaves.

It is nice to find that this part of Cavite still hid a few indigenous surprises.  We have to be optimistic that the natives' homecourt advantage will prevail over the exotics.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something To Look Forward To

Dendrobium hercoglossum flowers
Flower detail
Orchid profile
Quick Post: Been busy with school stuff and backlog. Doing this history lecture which is taking me forever, only to find out that classes are suspended this afternoon. At least I could get some time off to blog. 

Posting pictures of a blooming Dendrobium hercoglossum. I was told they are in bloom right now and they appear to have pink delicate dainty flowers.

Actually a lot of orchid species will be in flower in the next few months. I hope I have the time to sketch them. The color of the blooms would be nice to render using transparent watercolor. Oh well, I would have to wait to finish this lecture and the other stuff so I could orchid sketch again.