Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Park-and-Church-Visit Route of 2013

UST Church
Loreto in Sampaloc
Narrow Intramuros streets
I love taking pictures of churches.  So even if most my friends find it tacky to always have a camera in tow, I have mine at hand when we went on our annual Visita Iglesia.  We usually find a varied route from what we followed the previous year. This year our choices were dictated by ease of parking.  It seems that more people chose to stay put in the city like us so we encountered traffic and parking difficulty even if it was Holy week.  
The closed Manila Cathedral
The car-filled Manila streets
San Agustin being renovated
We found ourselves visiting the usuals starting with UST church and Loreto.  In San Sebastian, parking was impossible so we proceeded to the narrow but surprisingly easier-stop streets of Intramuros. After a couple of years, again I got to enter San Agustin church and marvel at its intricate interiors. But we missed Manila Cathedral as it was still closed for renovations.

Lourdes Church
Church beside Walter Mart
Our last three stops were our neighorhood churches.  Surprisingly Walter Mart at E. Rodriguez Avenue was open.  It made parking in the church beside it a bit harder.  I love visiting the small church because of its simple but elegant interiors (but I always forget the name of the church).  This year I found its garden renovated using a lot of native plants. Flowering native sanggumay were used to adorn the Virgin Mary grotto near the entrance. 

Sto. Domingo
Our yearly staple is visiting Sto. Domingo church and ending with Lourdes which I regularly visited when I was a child (I am a Lourdesian). Both are also becoming harder to visit with influx of cars and vehicles.  Sigh! But nevertheless, I will post pictures of these churches.

It was Sunshine for a Day!

An empty UP on a Monday
Golden narra blooms
Flower detail
Blooms cover the whole crown
Last Monday I went to do a lecture for an Earth Day group in UP.  Since it was a Monday, the roads were almost empty of students, apart from being Holy Week and classes are almost over. But the campus was livened up with the golden yellow flowers of numerous blooming narra trees.

I am not sure what triggers Pterocarpus indicus or narra to flower.  But when trees bloom, they do in unison. Thus in areas where there are several trees growing, the sunshine color is more than just noticeable, it is festive. And indeed insects and birds were feasting on the never ending yellow sprays of flowers.  In the College of Architecture, sparrows and an oriole took temporary residence in a large narra tree, giving us an array of bird calls in the morning  It lasted a couple of days.

Over the College of Architecture
Green again after a day
That Monday I stayed in UP to partake of the sunny feel brought about by the narra blooms. And like clockwork, the next day, the petals were not anymore seen on the trees, but have already carpeted the ground beneath them. It is a shame that beauty could be so fleeting.  I guess, that would have made that Monday much more special, and of course myself feeling blessed to have witnessed it again this year.  Hopefully the narra trees would again be triggered to flower in the following seasons.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The UP Salingbobog 2013

Crateva tree at the center of the lagoon
Crateva's pink yellow crown
The tree crown covered with profuse flowers
I was text messaged by Prof Ed Gomez yesterday.  He was elated to see that the balay-lamok or salingbobog (Crateva religiosa) in the U.P. Diliman lagoon is in full bloom.  He advised us to go see it before the flowers are gone.

The afternoon I went to see the Crateva.  As I approached it I was trying to see if even by a distance you could easily discern the pink yellow crown.  The lagoon specimen was small since it is growing very close to a kalios (Streblus asper). But the white color was prominent, more than what I remember the previous years that I saw it in full flowering glory. 

Very cherry-blossom-like!
The Crateva looks healthy even though it has not significantly grown in size.  But it is very beautiful.  I hope it would continue to grace the lagoon with its flowers for years to come. UP should do something to preserve its natural attractions, and I bet the crateva could prove to be an important resource.  Just imagine the lagoon flowering every year with pink cherry-blossom-like trees, if only there are some more of salingbobog growing in the vicinity.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The UPCLAS Orchid Show Booth

Bimbo Vergara's entry
Simple entry from UP students
Botchie Canicula's 2nd prize booth
Quick Post: Just taking a break. But finally got to post a picture of the UP landscape students' entry to the orchid show. They did not get to win the prize but I believe they had the best time doing the installation. Proud of them they pulled this off on their own.  Can't wait to see how they will do next year!

Posted pictures of some other entries.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My New Flowering Favorite

The yellow flowers are the same diameter as a tennis ball
I needed to transfer my Sibuyan katmon or Dillenia sibuyanensis into a bigger pot.  It was growing too tall for the 12 inch diameter clay pot it was in so I got it replanted in a 16 inch plastic pot.  But it meant I had to also transfer it from the cramp shady part under our trellis into a more sunny spot in my garden.  That was a month ago.

New bud
Today I found my katmon with open flower and 4 new buds.  I was expecting the plant will regress since I placed it in a new area. But still the plant came out with blooms, seem to be liking a more sun-exposed growth. This really astounded me. The Sibuyan katmon is fast becoming my new  favorite.  Not only is it a flowering native but also an easy plant to grow.  Hope it will be easy to propagate.

P.S.  Last time the katmon flowered, it developed into a fruit and I harvested a handful of seeds.  The seeds germinated to 3 seedlings.  Looks promising! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Models and Miniatures

Yum, yum cake shop!
Cozy bookstore
The students from the UP College of Architecture have just finished their annual Haraya exhibit.  The year's best students' plates and projects were displayed from first year level to the graduating class's culminating effort, the architectural thesis.  This year's crop includes numerous service-oriented buildings of different shapes and sizes as seen in the main display with complicated presentation boards and scale models. But scene stealers are the Arch 3 class interior design models of Prof.'s de Leon and Yazon.  They are very intricate and so nice to look at! 

Designer underwear?

Fashion designer's nook

I could already taste the dessert!

With real looking bread!

Teeny bopper shop...

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Battle of the Small Schefflera Species

Every now and then I get to see new Schefflera species and varieties and I always get surprised that some of the nice ones are Philippine native.  One of the most beautiful I have seen is Schefflera albido-bracteata or the starshine and yes, it too is Philippine native and propagated (but still rare). It has nice long slender puckered leaflets. Most propagated Scheffleras I have seen fairly large compound leaves but sometimes small leafed species pop in the landscaping scene. 
I saw this Schefflera last year at the Los Banos Garden show.  It looks similar to what was identified in Madulid's book as Cephaloschefflera blancoi. It has graceful leaf grwoth and fine flower sprays.  
Five years ago, the smallest Schefflera I know is something to what is labeled in Dr. Madulid's Ornamental Plant Pictorial-cyclopedia as Cephaloschefflera blancoi. But in the recent years a few more fine leaves ones emerged in the market.  They are claimed to be Philippine native but not yet commonly grown.  They are as follows:   
This Schefflera is growing nicely in the landscapes of Ayala Tower One in Makati.  My friend Mike Asinas said that the supplier was claiming it is a native species.  But it still has to be confirmed.  It looks like a small version of the non native Schefflera arboricola.  
I thought this was the smallest Philippine species as it was named as Schefflera microphylla or small-leafed Schefflera.  It grows in the rocky mountains of Zambales at high humidity areas. 
The smallest species I have seen so far is this one, sold by a stall in Centris a few years back. A plant expert said it grows in high elevation and humidity in the mountains of Northern Luzon. Not sure if it can thrive in hot and dry Manila.