Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nurturing the Young's Interest

Members of UP Green League with Ron Achacoso
The endemic Adonidia merrillii in AS walk
Last Wednesday I was invited by UP Green League to hold a tree walk as an ACLE session.  ACLE means alternative class learning experience which aims to give a different education from what you could basically learn inside the classroom. In line with this, the regular U.P. classes were suspended from 1 to 4 P.M. so students could attend the ACLE sessions.  But on my way to Palma Hall at 1 pm, crowds were already lining up to ride jeepneys going out of the campus. The ACLE sessions on the fourth floor of A.S. building had sparse attendance.  Green League's was not different as the session intended for 30 had only 9 attendees. But we went on having the tree walk anyway as 9 people are still worth teaching about the importance about the presence of native tree species in the environment.

We went on a different route going from A.S. to the lagoon, Melchor Hall, the library, the pavilions and ending up in MSI. Eventhough the group was small, the students seemed really interested in every tree that we went through.  They were actively smelling, touching and even tasting the fruits of each species. Hopefully what they learned would help them appreciate native species. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Miniature Bignay

Fruit clump in the palm of my hand
Fruit detail
Tree profile
I was in Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife visiting the new office of the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society. While waiting for my companions to unload the supplies into the room, I visited another plant which I have been watching in the park.  It is what the park people call as Antidesma pentandrum or bignai-pugo and yes it is a miniature cousin of the more popular bignay or Antidesma bunius. I was surprised that the plant which I saw last year as only a mere shrub is now a small tree.  And the compact crown is covered with miniature clumps of small bignay-like berries.  I would love to have one of this in my garden!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Waling-Waling Time!

Waling-waling in full-bloom glory!
Quick Post! Passed by Manila Seedling Bank which opened again (but  for only six more months as grace period before it again will be taken over by the Q.C. government - but that is another story). I saw waling-waling orchids in bloom. That means it is again time for the Kadayawan in Davao!  I bet the Kadayawan garden show is overflowing with blooming orchids!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Mystery Palawan Craft

The jar lids have different design motifs   
My 'Tagbanua' jars
The burnt pattern
I was in Art Circle Cafe in UP Alumni Center yesterday.  I was hanging out with friends Ronald Achacoso, Ulysses Ferreras and Adora Navarro. The three were discussing some important business, while I was attending to a plate of Lucban langgonisa all-day breakfast and my yummy cheesecake dessert. While sort of listening to the seriousness of my companions' conversation, something across the room caught my eye. It was a group of light colored wooden jars standing at a corner of one shelf.
Part of my container collection
A Palawan rice basket with pointed hood
I immediately stood up and examined the pieces. The jars were carved from light-colored wood and marked with dark ethnic patterns. Container-crazy me of course became excited. I hesitantly asked the waitress if the jars were for sale, fearful that if they were they probably would cost a lot!  I could not believe what I've heard when she said they were selling for a hundred pesos a piece.  Sold! 
Rice baskets with round covers
The gallery people said that they acquired the pieces from Palawan.  When I tried to squeeze out a locality, they blurted out Tagbanua. I am not sure if that is even the name of the place where the jars originated from.  What  I was certain is that Tagbanua is a tribe name of people residing in Calamianes and possibly some other parts of northern Palawan. When I was in Popototan, in Busuanga, some of the residents there claim they are of Tagbanua descent. So I am thinking the jars came from the northern part of Palawan.

Covers have different patterns
When I was in Puerto Princesa, I did not see anything similar to these jars in any of the souvenir shops.  What I got were a few miniature rice baskets made from fine bamboo (from Nara, southern part of Palawan) and a wood jar made from nato (probably wood from a Palaqium sp.).  Up north in El Nido, they sold the same stuff plus imported wood carvings from the mountain provinces.    

Intricate basket fits in my palm
Uly examined my new finds and said he remembered reading that some Palawan tribes use soft wood of pioneer tree species like Macaranga or Homalanthus in wood carving.  He further added that the dark patterns may have been applied by using heat, thus the darker color must have been burn marks. He was not sure though if these jars are the exact craft described.

Carved jar from nato
When I got home, I mixed my new acquisitons with my collection. The light color stand out against the dark hues of the other items. Whatever their origin is, they are a nice addition on my display shelves. The Philippines might not have popular local cultures but we sure do have creative and unique crafts. Another more fun item to add in the list! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Books on Natives At Last!

Book launching loot
Complimentary Rafflesia book
I attended a book launching cum tribute to First Philippine Holding's Oscar Lopez. To celebrate the amazing accomplishments and environmental dedication of the company's chairman emeritus, 3 books were introduced to the attendees of the event in the Rockwell Tent, last Thursday evening. Guests were treated to overflowing cocktails and complimentary copies of the important books.

Native tree book
The first book "Generations" chronicles the resource richness and biodiversity of Philippine islands.  The second lists the 10 unusual native species in "Rafflesia in the Philippines". The last is "Philippine Native Trees 101, Up Close and Personal", a rare reference to 108 native tree species which could be used for urban landscaping.   Books 1 and 2 are not sold comercially.  The third book is sold by Green Convergence and Hortica Filipina. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Cut Flower Hoya

Flowering Hoya cumingiana
Cluster waiting to bloom
Flower detail
In early 2011, I found branches of a native Hoya being sold in a stall in Dangwa.  It is Hoya cumingiana and they are sold as leaves spray for cut flowers.  A bundle of 6 pieces sold for 35.  Haggling got me 4 bundles for 100 pesos. I clustered them and placed on dry sphagnum moss.

A year after, the once lanky Hoya sprays are now upright and heathy.  And they seem to be loving the wet weather as they are coming out with their first flower umbels. It seems Hoya cumingiana is one of the nicest hoyas to grow in the urban garden an they are easy to bloom.  Will watch out for more sprays in my next Dangwa visit.
The leaf spray bundle

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A String of Seeds

Add caption
Jasper's unique find
The seeds have a nice polished finish.
Quick Post: My PNPCSI friend Jasper Obico was sporting what he bought as souvenir from his summer trip to Yunan, China. At first glance it looked like a fancy bead bracelet commonly sold in flea markets. But upon closer look the ornate bracelet segments are not beads but seeds.  A selection of 17 actual plant species seeds were used to create this nice accessory display. It appeared like an heirloom or antique piece. Shows how creative Chinese are in transforming simple items to something unique.  Made me want to make my own version of Philippine species. Please give me some seeds!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cebu Cross Up Close

Iconic Magellan's cross against the ceiling's infamous mural
The limited space around the icon
My sis offering a sinulog
It is my third time in Cebu but it is the first time I got to scrutinize the Magellan Cross up close. It is not conducive to linger in the famous tourist spot' premises as the pergola enclosing the cross has limited space. It is also unfortunate that tourists are persistently interrupted by enterprising locals.  There are peddlers selling souvenirs, kids begging for coin change and of course the popular sinulog dancers. My sister was persuaded by a manang to buy some candles and offer a prayer. But at least I learned 3 things about this famous Cebu landmark.

Trivia 1: Sinulog dancers ask you to buy a handful of thin colored candles to offer at the foot of the cross. The dancer would also ask your name and jam it in prayer chant.  They recite the memorized lines so quickly that the only words you could discern are a few words and the name. And while performing the oration, they sway their hips as if they are doing a dance. I am not sure what happens to the offered candles which are not lit, but just left bundled at the ledge.
Countless unlit candles - what will happen to them?
Worm's eye view of the cross
Trivia 2:  Magellan's cross is enclosed in a veneer of tindalo wood to protect it.  Tindalo is a native tree (Afzelia rhomboidea), nice premium hardwood with reddish color.  I am not sure what the cross underneath is made of. 

Inscription about the cross
Trivia 3: It is not certain if the cross displayed in the pergola is the original brought to Cebu by Magellan. Some suspect the 1521 cross was taken back by Magellan's entourage when they left the island. The one enclosed in tindalo is what they discovered marking the site in the 1700's, which is probably a replica. They preserved it to commemorate the event.  Now, original or not, it has become an iconic symbol of the queen city.