Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Anonang in the Old Cabrera House

The rustic looking character of the Cabrera house  
The large anonang tree
My friends Albert and Minnie decided a few years ago to leave the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila for the simple and more relaxing life in Mindanao. For the past 5 years they lived in the quaint ancestral house in Surigao del Sur belonging to the Cabrera clan. Last March my other friend Pinky and I visited them again (we did before in 2013 while the house was still being fixed) and we were elated to find that the couple's projects are starting to come into fruition. 
Garden is greens all around 
Branches are covered with Pyrrosia
The house stands in a lot of about a few hundred square meters but the buiding footprint occupies about a fourth of the lot area.  The remainder was planted with a garden with lots of ornamental and edible plants cultivated by some of their household mates and by Minnie and Albert themselves. It appears to be the greenest property within the city center. One garden feature which immediately ctches every visitor's eye is a massive tree at the farside of the lot which appears to be anonang (Cordia sp. probably C. dichotoma).  

The branches frame the house beautifully
Minnie had many stories about the garden.  One is that people, some are pure strangers, come knocking on their door asking for plants. But there are a number of them who ask for leaves and branches of the anonang tree to use as medicinal remedy.  She does not exactly know what sickness they are used for though but recalling a friend's statement, they were used for high fever and poultice for 'pilay' in Bicol. I have not confirmed whether these claims are true but it is evident that even here in Surigao, they believe anonang has some medicinal properties. 

I frequently encounter anonang in my trips to different provinces but everytime I see a tree, I can't seem to remember how to identify them.  It appears unremarkable to me, with non-memorable features. I tried to examine the Cabrera house anonang but it is hard to see the individual leaves as most are high up the tall specimen.  Plus the tree is enchantingly covered with Pyrrosia ferns. The anonang beautifully frames the old house charm of the old Cabrera house, adding a little more rustic character to that part of Tandag City.   

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Fairest and the Flawless

Alma Moreno was regarded as the pretty one.
Lorna was said to be more sexy at the time.
Quick Post: These were exhibited in a place I did not expect, the Quezon City Museum. They were part of the industry display as these were promotional calendars of businesses that thrived in Quezon City, at one time or another. It is  a throwback moment as it featured the primary sexy vixens of my generation, Lorna Tolentino and her loveli-ness Alma Moreno. 

Calendar with a daring model who I do not know
I remember that in our time, my siblings and I were always arguing as to who was more sexy, beautiful or famous. Undoubtedly one of my sister's favorite was Alma and I recall myself choosing the side of Lorna. But looking at the calendars now I think I find Alma Moreno the cuter of the two. Hahaha, evolving taste I guess. But I would prefer both of them over the more daring calendars brought out today by the alcohol brands, which are also exhibited.  And like wine these memorabilia pieces are now classics, which is why you could find them in a museum.  

So who do you prefer, Alma or Lorna? Probably Rio Locsin, hahaha!

Green Judgement Day

First prize winner of landscape competition
I was invited by the Philippine Horticultural Society to serve as a judge for the landscaping competition, which I did last Wednesday, along with plantman Michael Asinas and multiple landscape competition winner Francis Gener. There were 12 entries in the competition done by various individuals, groups and even other plant societies. It took all three of us about an hour to view admire and of course evaluate each and every one of them.  After judging, the PHS people commented that for them it is sometimes identifiable who executed what landscape as some entrants have already developed styles or some plant species and specimens are identified with particular growers over the years. But when we did judging, we were suggested to base on pure appreciation, so I made my choices on pure aesthetic merit, which turned out was not much different from the other judges' preferences.  It was not hard for the three of us to come up with a unanimous decision. Below are the winners of the landscape competition.
The bonsai landscape is the second prize winner.
This cactus and succulent landscape won third prize.

Honorable mention landscape
The Philippine Horticultural Society Annual Plant show will run for almost 15 days, up to February 15.  You could catch the exhibits as well as the plant sale booths, open from 8 am to 6 pm.            

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Small Cordillera Collection

My first bulol is 3 inches high
Trio of  twin bulol carvings
I bought my first bulol on my first trip to Banawe Rice Terraces.  It was unique because it is tiny yet said to be made out of mabolo. It is in my opinion beautiful despite its diminutive size. And ever since I have been on a look out for cute Cordilleras items. 
A selection of pocket-size lime containers made out of different wood materials
Another lime container made out of bone
On trips back to the mountain provinces I search for these as souvenirs, from wood carvings, bulol statues to lime containers. Sometimes I don't actively look for them.  They just find their way to me. Some were given as gifts, one by Mang Ramon who owns a home-stay in Batad. My collection of smalls is still relatively small, but I believe I have gotten a few interesting ones despite the tight budget I set (the reason I buy only small items is that I don't want to spend much on them). But even if they don't cost much, they occupy a prime spot in my treasure trove.  
A small mortar and pestle made out of bone.  One of my favorites because of the intricacy and the weaving.
My Ifugao friend told me it is rarer to find dancing bulol statuettes.  This pair is 4 inches high.
Ifugaos also carve utensils, pipes and other household items.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Watching Wildlife at a Parking Lot

The lone dove in a long parking lot
The bird was first trying to flee my attention 
It is not the ideal pastime I know.  But every time I see wildlife in an urban setting I could not help myself. This time I saw some local doves which are much smaller than the domesticated pigeons used as pets.  I believe they are locally named bato-bato but I am not sure as I heard there are several pigeons and doves native to the Philippines.  But most Pinoys find them drab or don't mind them and probably could not tell them apart from the common maya bird. 

Bato-bato are small but are larger than the ubiquitous maya. They are still quite numerous around Manila. You just have to be a little observant to spot them, as I am that hot Sunday afternoon. As I alighted my sister's car I caught glimpse of one hopping around the parking lot in the CCP complex. I try to get a better view of it but once it saw me it tried to flee and create more distance between the two of us. When it reached the back end of another vehicle, a red SUV, it was joined by another bato-bato
Another dove showed up!
I was probably about 50 meters from the two doves and at the corner of my eye I could see a feral cat entering my field of view. It was creeping in slow, probably watching the pair of birds with a keen eye.  It went under a stainless vehicle a few slots away from the SUV. The cat was thinning out its distance from the birds.  
The pouncing cat
I am a cat person, but of course this time I am at the side of the birds.  It reminded me of the Tweety-Bird and Sylvester-Cat chases in the Looney Tunes cartoons of my childhood. But with wildlife as a rule you could never interfere with interaction, even if it is happening in an urban setting.  But it appears the birds do not need my help as before the cat could approach the nearest vehicle to the SUV, they were already scampering and eventually flying away from the scene.  Seems like the bato-bato doves have more challenges apart from habitat loss to urbanization  But fortunately they manage. A good thing to know especially because my sister and I did not find anything great in the flea market we went to and this was the excitement of my afternoon. Hahaha!     

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Natural Raincoat

Natural raincoat
This palm has a very wide leaf!
Quick Post: On one of our roadtrips to Laguna and Quezon, we passed by this farmer sporting a unique garment, and I cannot  resist to stop and take pictures. Good thing the man agreed. He had on an all-natural raincoat! It is basically a one-large leaf of a fan-shape palm (probably buri or Corypha elata). I am sure it did not cost much to make as it appeared to have simple construction and stitching, but it is definitely high on points for creativity and of course very environmentally friendly!

Incidentally buri palms appear to still be quite common in the landscapes of Laguna and Quezon. We passed several stands of it on our way to Lucena. Quite fascinating, the plant much like the raincoat!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

More than the Usual U.P. Colors for 2016

The familiar maroon is the cover color for the coloring book
Repetitive student pattern
I returned to U.P. Arki after the semestral break finding that the U.P. Diliman Chancellor's Office has a gift for me...and of course the other regular members of the faculty.  We usually get calendars and planners as Christmas gifts but this time we received something unique, popular and very adult coloring book.   It has the format of what you would expect from any other adult coloring book but with familiar and iconic U.P. items as theme. One of my chosen pastime for 2015 has been coloring books but will probably enjoy doing this better as it has more nostalgic items to render using my new set of Japanese coloring pens.

To Chancellor Michael Tan, thank you for a very thoughtful Christmas gift this year.  I just wish it won't take me a year to finish coloring all of the pages!
Sample pages... and this gave me a laugh!
Greens, Sunflowers and clean energy transports
The iconic academic oval
The U.P. staple food!!!

Dangling Small Patola

The dangling patola on long vines
Crossing telephone wires 
Occasionally when I get tired of the available snacks in the College of Architecture canteen, I take a short walk from the Architecture building to the University Cooperative store located near Krus-na-Ligas.  I sometimes buy chips and drinks, or a newly cooked turon in one of the community houses.  In one of my hot afetrnoon walks to the coop store, I noticed a lot of red small pendulous gourds.

I see these small 'patola' plants growing even in my small roof top garden.  They are small vines and their tendrils climb and cover the spines of my large succulent plants.  I remove them quickly before they could choke my ornamental plants.

The red edible fruit
In my garden, the 'patola' fruits are less than an inch in length.  In the U.P. sidewalks; where they grow and fences, trees and even electrical posts and wires; the fruits are considerably larger and more enticingly red. Makes me wonder if they really are edible, as I have heard from some friends, they taste like cucumber. They probably are more attractive to the birds since they are bright colored, which is why I find them on the 3rd floor level where my garden is.

I asked my friend Ulysses Ferreras if he is familiar with the weed patola.  He said it is probably Melothria pendula, a native of South America. And I was hoping they were native.  Just another indication how prolific introduced plants are once they get a foothold on our environment.   
Several red gourds will catch your eye

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fans and Flowering Orchid Vines

Bauhinia vine in flower
Individual blossoms are orange
A couple of months ago I accompanied my friends Ronald and Ernie on the road to Rizal province.  We were curious about the new wind turbines installed in Pililia and how it has affected the Rizal landscape.  So I once more brought out my long resting Sony camera from the drawer.  I have not used it for months as my fone camera had become more handy to take pictures with, but the Sony pictures take much better pictures of course. 

After passing through Teresa, Baras and Tanay towns, we were already anxious when the white fan-like structures would appear by the horizon. Every zigzagging turn we make I gaze into the next hill trying to get my first glimpse of a single turbine.  But while looking for the turbines, I instead caught a view of something pleasant and more interesting for me in one of the steep roadside slopes, a flowering specimen of Bauhinia vine.  I am guessing what we saw was probably agpoi or Bauhinia integrifolia.  I was also told recently by Ulysses Ferreras that the Bauhinia genus were reclassified into the genus Phanera but I am still used to using Bauhinia.
They cover an extensive part of the slope
The vine flowers are prolific
The two-lobed leaves are also attractive
Bauhinia is the genus of what we commonly call orchid tree (Bauhinia purpurea) and the alibangbang (Bauhinia malabarica). Some collectors refer to Bauhinia vines as orchid flower vines. The Indochinese species Bauhinina kockiana has already become popular in local gardening. But local gardeners are not familiar with the fact that the Philippines has a handful of native vining Bauhinia or Phanera species. That morning we encountered one in full regalia, on our way to the large Pililia wind turbines.

As for the new white Rizal province landmarks, I admit they are an intriguing addition into the undulating silhouette of the Southern Tagalog mountains. What I like about them is that you get different facets of each one on every turn of the road. We eventually also stopped roadside to take pictures of the large propellers, but I probably took more snaps of the Bauhinia than the wind turbines. 
The new Rizal wind turbines are very prominent 
There are about 2 clusters of them, definite changing the shape of the Rizal province horizon

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What I May Have Been Doing...

Dendrobium anosmum
Aside from the teaching, what occupied my time were a lot of distractions.  Some of course are fun but most of the time I am just plain tired of doing all work, insert sigh here hehehe.  One thing I enjoyed though was me taking up a little of painting using acrylic on canvass.  It is not serious but something to do that is different in between writing exams and preparing lessons.  But there came a time when I almost didn't want to do anything other than painting.

I started with something familiar which is orchids. Eventually I did a few departures from realism and painted a few fantasy themes.  Will post pics of my finished ones...
My try on doing an Euanthe and Trichoglottis

Renewing my Fascination for the Plants

You know what, I miss writing on this blog.  Instead of explaining why I have been away so much from logging into here, I will use the time to write and tell you a story and hopefully it would usher me in writing more here, especially this 2016. 
Medinilla flowers
Medinilla probably M. teysmannii 
Have you ever been to the Makiling Botanic Garden? I have been there a lot as you would see in several of my posts here in this blog. But in my last visit this 2015, I more than realized how many beautiful plants we have in the country.  The botanic park has limited selection of the thousands of Philippine species we have in our forests but the ones I saw flowering last September were simply spectacular.We might not have bright colored plants like bromeliads, or really showy flowering plants like gerberas or tulips, but these are not at all bad!
Heterospathe califrons
Alocasia probably A. portei
Flowering Spathoglottis or ground orchid