Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Bloomer

Small dainty flowers in early October
Fully opened cluster mid October
Quick Post: Before October ends, I should have posted something or else I would have again broken the habit.

I was gifted with a very small seedling of an invasive vine in 2011 or 2012, which is a Bauhinia.  It is called agpoi which is usually associated with B. integrifolia, but my specimen is probably a different species.  It was merely just a sprout with 2 leaflets when I received it.  It is now very much bigger, taking over one side of a small trellis in my garden. 

This month, I found the Bauhinia vine in flower.   It is almost similar to the exotic Bauhinia kockiana but has lighter color and smaller orange blooms.  But the leaves are more attractive than the popular B. kockiana, having the familiar binnate shape expected of the genus. It deserves its position in my garden receiving ample sun.  It flutters the dainty flowers whenever there was even the slightest breeze.  It is definitely another overlooked Philippine beauty! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Overran by the Octopus Leaves

My lush garden is a forest
The king of my jungle
A confession: I neglected my garden as much as I put blogging at the backside. But our cook has been patiently tending to the plants.  Now that it has been raining, I found out that the garden is lush and that the Schefflera plants are growing vigorously. just look at some of the pics of my nice galamay amo plants.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Road Trip with my Sisters

Where we stayed
It was a long time since I went on a road trip with my siblings.  Even it was 4pm, sis Teng insisted we go to cool Tagaytay to get away from all our routines. Cecil and I obliged and after almost 4 hours of road travel we reached the lake rim, barely in time for dinner.  We took a not-so-quick bite in crowded Leslie's and spent the next 3 hours just looking for the right room where we would spend the night.  Day 1 was uneventful but very tiring, but we looked forward to an early start the next day. 

We had our breakfast at 9 am.  We left the Econohotel at 10 following Aguinaldo Hiway till we reached the fork going either to Nasugbu or Lemery.  We went towards Lemery, our destination - the quaint town of Taal. My sisters have not been on this route before.  After another 30 minutes we went pass the abandoned Fantasyland castle by the horizon. Cecil's car headed from the mountainous zigzagging roads till we saw ourselves in Lemery.  After 15 minutes, the prominent and fabulous Taal Church came into view. 
The Taal Church facade
The magnificent church interior
I feel like a selfie moment but resisted it
I have been to Taal once before.  Viewing the church the second time around, still left me marvelling at the stately beauty and the church's interior details. It is grand and beautiful! The town character is equally interesting seen in the intricate patterns and motifs of the old ancestral buildings and houses. We ate our late lunch at Cafe G, a few strides away from the church.  It was sweets galore with dessert and of course my favorite, the peddled panucha.

Faux fire place at Cafe G.
Our travelling companion, Mr. Incredible!
In between Cafe G and Taal Church, a brute looking false yucca caught my eye and my ear.  The nice Dracaena multiflora - which most people are surprised to learn is native to Mindoro, Palawan and the Visayas - was heavily perched on by different chirping birds.  It was noisy but a pleasant sight and sound at the church's plaza. We spent another hour taking pictures and buying pasalubong.
The false yucca trees
Bulky but nice Dracaena multiflora
We then followed the route going to Lipa.  When we reached Alabang, almost nearing sundown, we realized we went on full circle, almost encircling Taal Lake. As prize we stopped by in one of the malls.  All three of us had haircuts and treatments.  Hehehe probably not an epic way to end a long trip but it was all worth it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lucky are my Students

Measuring kalumpang tree
Having a well-earned break!
Tall kalumpit

It was my first time to get student assistants.  I hired CJ, Antoinne and Arvin to help me finish the physical walking and ocular part of my pending research. For two Saturdays we tried to get measurements of a few trees around the Diliman campus. Of course it wont be a complete tree mission without ever stopping at Marine Science Institute, which has adopted making native trees a landscape attraction.
The lucky clover fern

While measuring dao and kalumpit in MSI I told my students if they feel lucky.  I told them they could try their luck if they could find a 'four-leaf clover' among the greens.  So my obedient students spent the next few seconds running their eyes through the grass blades and Arvin exclaimed he found one. I was expecting they do.  But then again the plant they found is not exactly clover.  Since it is the rainy season, the moisture loving Marsilea fern has returned back to the lawns of MSI. Lucky us they are still there!  
Luck in the greens!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Unlikely Urban Orchid!

Drab colored but still impressive flowers of G.scriptum
If you ask gardeners, they would probably tell you to shy away from orchids in the genus Grammatophyllum. Though they are know to be the biggest orchids in the world, they are not popular as they are regarded as diffcult to bloom in the city.  Plus if they do bloom, most of the species display drab unattractive colors.
But to the experts, the orchid is indeed worth the while to grow for orchid lovers.  The easy species like G. scriptum will easily root and establish in the city garden, potted or mounted on driftwood. In a short time it would already bring out new shoots and reach considerable flowering size. Specimens readily bring out the earth colored flowers.  Though they may not be showy, the size and the shape compensate for the drab hues, truly an interesting specimen to have in any urban garden!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Advocacy!

I just realized something.  I have actually let my work silence my advocacy.  It is not just a matter of learning and experiencing the presence of native flora.  I would have to share what I learn about them.  The joy of documenting and imparting the information should fire up my zest to blog about them.  I will have to continue...

Dillenia sibuyanensis in flower in the garden.  I still love the native plants.  They continue to love me back with their nice flowers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Incense Flower

Kalachuchi flowers
Dried up under the sun
Flowering tree
While going around the Chinese Cemetery in Manila, my friends and I stumbled upon beds of kalachuchi flowers being dried out under the sun.  We wondered what they are for.   We saw a tomb caretaker  passby and asked him if he knew who was drying them and what they will be used for.  He said that people in the cemetery were collecting the common tree's flowers and sun dry them.  Every now and then someone buys the dried kalachuchi for a few hundred pesos a kilo. They are to be utilized as ingredients for incense. 

Some are spread over the concrete pavement
Some tombs are used as temporary drying areas
The white kalachuchi or Plumeria obtusa is a popular tree used around Manila. As we went around the park, drying the flower is a common practice and there are numerous ways it was done. But whenever there is a flowering kalachuchi tree, there are a multitude of fallen underneath its arbor.  For sure these would have to be cleaned by the cemetery's maintenance personnel.  Might as well earn a buclk or two for them.

Following Balikbayans in the Chinese Cemetery

Minor street in Chinese Cemetery
Combination of rustic and oriental
I was asked by my friend Ibay to accompany her and a couple of her friends around Manila.  I was to serve as the navigator, though I think I was useless for that task. I said yes because the trip would take us around the old parts of Manila proper.  We were to go to Chinese Cemetery, Binondo and of course, Intramuros.  Our companions, husband and wife BJ and Arlene, balikbayans from Canada who swore they never have gone to these places, with the exception of San Agustin where they got married. I myself have not gone to the Chinese Cemetery so that in itself alone was worth my coming.
Dragon detail
The foo lions
Moon entrance
Anahao trees
We started the day late at 11 am.  But it was lucky that the sun was not scourging hot even though we reached the cemetery at noon. Ibay rented a van and the driver parked it at one of the inner streets. All four of us went down and walked from alley to alley not minding if we get lost.  BJ and Arlene was amused how Ibay and I woud exclaim how beautiful the oriental details were, considering it was indeed a cemetery.   But they got into the groove of it, contributing into the ghost stories and jokes we were exchanging, to lighten the mood. In the end they appreciated the color and rich ornamentation.
There was still space for a basketball court
Battery of foo lions
Dita at a distance
Mabolo tree at the background
I was of course looking around beyond the architecture.  I was scouting for old trees and was not disappointed.  Though there were the cemetery staples like acacia and kalachuchi, I found that there were an assortment of natives still standing around the memorial lots. Talisay (Terminalia catappa) abound, but mabolo (Diospyros blancoi), dita (Alstonia scholaris), hawili (Ficus septica), alagao (Premna odorata), anahao (Livistona) and bungang-jolo (Veitchi merrillii) are present in the alleys we went through. Not bad! 

Pergola at the semi lawn area
We finished in a short hour but walked an amazing 2.5 kilometers around the premises. And we till had half a ahead of us.  Will write about the rest of our trip in the following days to come.     
Tent structures without the fabric
Modern Chinese

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Neo-Urban Creek

This creek is hidden beneath the LRT 2 line flanking the entrance to the university belt
Quick Post:  Passed by this creek near the university belt and it seems like the Paco Creek, it was rehabilitated.  Looks so provincial. Hoping that more urban waterways will follow the same fate!

Departures from my Traditional Maundy Thursday...

Loreto is full of people following the stations of the cross
Loreto Church in Sampaloc
It is a quiet Thursday.  The streets are almost empty as most Manila dwellers retreated to the provinces. It is again ideal to go around as there is almost no traffic.  I was thinking if it would be easy to follow our traditional yearly Visita Iglesia route.

Faux-gothic of San Beda

St. Jude Church
This year there will be a change.  Ever since I could remember, I perform Visita Iglesia along with my family - my parents and my siblings. When my Mom died I still managed to go, probably not with the whole family, but at least with my dad and a sibling or two. But this year that my Dad is gone. It seems Maundy Thursday is not anymore a family day for me and I am to go on my very first Visita, alone. Honestly I was dreading it at first, but somehow I found it more relaxing and contemplative.  For one I could take my time, and follow a route that I like and enjoy. 
The station of the cross murals at San Beda are outdated but very beautiful
I chose to go on a route where I could mostly walk.  I decided to start with Loreto Church in Sampaloc.  From there I was thinking i could proceed on foot to four more churches: San Beda, St. Jude, San Sebastian and Quiapo.  I got my stations-of-the-cross prayer book at hand, starting four stations at Loreto, and going through to two or three with the succeeding churches. I was almost finished with 12 station when I got to towering steel San Sebastian church.

The barrel vault of San Beda
The modern lines of St. Jude
The walk from Loreto to San Sebastian was surprisingly manageable for a couch potato like me. Though I was alone, the streets had a festive feel as there are numerous people doing Visita Iglesia along side me.  They were also enjoying themselves as they squeeze in a group shot or selfie.  Of course I could not help myself occasionally bringing out my phone camera, especially while admiring the architecture of the churches.

After San Sebastian I decided not to walk to Quiapo, but instead take a cab ride to Manila Cathedral and San Agustin.  But upon reaching the Intramuros walls, there was unfamiliar Holy Week traffic. My cab driver pulled back to try another route but that also was clogged.  After a few minutes of waiting behind the slow cars, my cab went a final U-turn and head back to the Sta Cruz area.  
I think it is already obvious that this is my favorite church - San Sebastian.

The brick-laden Sta. Cruz Church
My 5th church became Sta Cruz Church.  It was where I finished my Station of the Cross, as the cross markers where conveniently located outside of the church building.  I sat at one corner where I made my contemplative prayers, amidst other church-goers but minus minding if any of my companions are waiting. I realized that part was alsoin a way stressful.

Offered a couple of colorful prayer candles
I leisurely walked through a more crowded street - Carriedo to find myself going to the church I was supposed to visit at no. 5 - Quiapo.  It seems destiny really wanted me to visit this church.  I lighted a few colorful candles and said thanksgiving prayers, but could not stand the crowds.  I decided to leave Quiapo after a short prayer to head to my last church.  The underpass was closed for renovation.  I had to walk under Quezon Bridge and pass through the handicraft stores - a feast for the eye. 
The ever crowded church of Quiapo was still very commercially busy
Lourdes Church
My last church was Lourdes Minor Basilica, where my family traditionally start our Visita Iglesias. I could not finish my own route without passing through Lourdes, which was also my Alma Mater.  We usually finish the stations here before going to the other churches where we make shorter prayers.  This time around I was done with the prayer book and lit only a few candles.  It was different but nevertheless still done somewhere familiar.  I planned to passby my favorite puto-bungbong stall but in the end got suman and kalamay instead - another stereotype departure.  I dipped both treats in a bowl of sugar, after a tiring but self-discovering Visita Iglesia.  I realized I will be starting new traditions in the years following this one!