Monday, December 24, 2012

The Season's Icon


Euphorbia pulcherrima is said to be now reclassified as Poinsettia pulcherrima. Unlike most Euphorbia species (from Africa), this species is found wild in Central America, but is now grown widely around the world. But also unlike a majority of Euphorbia, the Poinsettia grows better in cooler areas like Baguio and Tagaytay. It brings out reddish specialized leaves around the minute yellow flowers around December, which is why it has become the universal symbol of the yuletide season. Poinsettia pulcherrima is now in season. Sadly this is not native but a good intro for me to greet everyone a very merry Christmas! May we be more aware of our native flora in 2013!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Orchid Calendar for FREE!

Urban Orchids calendar
Art Post Asia printed a dozen of my sketches into a calendar for 2013.  They did not print much, only a few to serve as corporate giveaway.  Not even sure if it was sold to the public.  So you could say it is a limited edition, hehehe.
But I got a few copies and I am giving away one as prize for a small contest for Philippine followers of my blog. Just give me a unique christmas greeting as comment to this post. I will choose the most creative. On Christmas I will announce who won and I will LBC the calendar to anywhere you are (in the Philippines).  Goodluck and happy orchid-Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Late Year Bloomers

Quick Post:  I thought most plants flower in spring time. Then why is Baguio all in bloom at November. The following are pictures of the different ornamental plants in full blooming regalia, so close to the Christmas season!    
Pyrostegia venusta
Rose variety
Probably Medinilla pendula, and the only native in the bunch

Saturday, December 15, 2012

PMA Pines

Iconic PMA parade grounds
PMA'ers jogging in synchrony
The articfcial tree house
It is my fifth time in Baguio, but first time in the Philippine Military Academy grounds. My companions said it has much changed since their last visit but I do not have any comparison to make. We stopped by the Korean War Memorial (which my friends were wondering how come we have a memorial for the war - not sure what the participation of the Philippines in the war that happened in far away Korea). Of course it would not be complete without seeing the famous parade grounds, which I only saw from an old Pinoy movie. My friend Pinky also pointed out to an artifical pine tree with a concrete tree house mounted on it, which drew crowds going up its steep steps.
Age-old wide pine tree
Conical trimmed pine
Trimmed juxtaposed with the natural
But what really got my attention were the real Benguet pines or Pinus kesiya growing around the academy. They come in different ages and sizes. In an avenue in front of one of the main buildings, they had a few of the pine trees shaped in an iconic gymnosperm cone. Pine trees grow straight and upright, but unlike some gymnosperms like Araucaria and Agathis, the canopy shape is much random.  So it is unusual to see them shaped like Christmas trees. 

A few meters across the street, an older pine tree specimen is growing much more natural with ith branches untrimmed and spreading several meters across.  It is also unusual to see this one growing wider than taller.  The PMA seem to be growing its pine trees with peculiarity.     

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ardisia on the Beach

Back beach with Chiquita Island at the horizon
Ardisia stand near the beach
Flower spike
Quick Post: Grande Island has a back beach.  It has white sand and a nice view of the West Philippine Sea and the nearby small island of Chiquita. And along the adjacent greenery, there were stands of flowering Ardisia. I am not sure what species this is but to me, it resembles the awnasin or Ardisia pyramidalis growing in the cool areas of Mt. Makiling.  Unusual if it is indeed A.pyramidalis, as it is growing wild in the hot coastal areas of the island. I once saw an awnasin growing in hot Manila and suffered greatly.  It probably is a different plant.
Profuse flowering

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Off the Subic Coast

Olongapo from the water
Free port
Ibay making snaps of the Subic shore
Grande Island clubhouse
Last November 9, I tagged along with Ibay Sicam and the Abas family on a road trip going to Grande Island in Subic Bay. It involved a boat trip and I grabbed the chance to get off Luzon mainland for the first time in a month. At 11 am we were picked up by the Grande Island ferry and for the very first time I saw the Subic coast viewed from the water.

More pictures on the ruins
Eons ago, I only had the chance to view Grande Island standing at the very tip of the then empty Naval Magazine.  I was doing my undergraduate thesis in architecture and I selected the area to be my site for the theoretical exposition project (site is now the Ocean Adventure). We were told by our tour guide then that the island stands as a recreation area for American GI's stationed in the base. I always wondered how it looked like. That afternoon I had the chance to know what the island is hiding.
The old army hospital is now a hotel
Battery Flake
The disappearing gun
The hotel close up
Grande is still evident as an island resort with recreation `facilities.  But what I did not know was that it housed a few historical buildings and structures. We went up several times to hilly parts of the island and discovered the battery fortifications. The most interesting one is called Battery Flake, looking like a small version of Intramuros.  Ibay says it looked more like Corregidor but I have not gone to that island yet.
The guns share the land with grazing horses
Wikipedia states that Grande was previously called Fort Wint in the American period. It served as additional harbor defense for both Subic and Manila. The batteries were used as outlook and fortifications for gun defense.  Battery hall still holds the remnants of the disappearing gun, which we personally saw.  We hope the resort operators would take care and protect these wonderful heritage sites.   It is always quite awesome seeing Philippine history right in front of you and the resort could bank on th importance as additional attraction.

The Grande Island Resort
Thanks to my friend Ibay, the Abas women and the Grande Island resort for this rare opportunity.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Month with No Blogs

Taal Lake on a bright day
Fish pens also as clear as the day
Flowering Melastoma
Sorry if November passed by with only two blog inputs.  In fact it was a month ago since my last blog entry. No, I did not get tired of writing the blogs.  But November was busy for me since it was the start of the second semester and we are wrapping up for 2 issues for Metro Home magazine. But I have lots experienced the last month to blog about.  I hope to find the time to write them.    
To start off again, I made several trips to Tagaytay for the magazine. In one of them I got a breather to eat and slurp some of the famous Leslie's bulalo, and enjoy the view of Taal Volcano on a bright clear day.  Since Leslie's is a popular stop, I am guessing that a lot of people have already glanced upon the view in Leslie's corner of the Tagaytay rim.  But I am sure not all witnessed the flowering Melastoma (probably M. malabathricum) or pure-tutungaw in a pot near the Filibeans Cafe. Melastoma is such a nice native to grow in the garden, high or low altitude. 
The flowering shrub is tucked near a cafe