Flow­ers have their place in the scheme of things

(Mem­oirs of an Agri Jour­nal­ist)

Agriculture - - Contents -

IN THE EARLY 1990s, we wrote about Lino Aromin of Baguio City re­gard­ing his flower con­tract growing scheme. He had the bright idea of ask­ing the care­tak­ers of ab­sen­tee owners of va­ca­tion houses in the Pines City to grow poin­set­tias for him.

In those early years, the dwarf poin­set­tias with bright in­flo­res­cence that we see to­day were not yet grown in the Philip­pines. So what Lino did was to ask the care­tak­ers to plant the cut­tings of what we usu­ally re­fer to as the “na­tive” va­ri­ety.

In June or July, the care­tak­ers would plant the cut­tings in re­cy­cled half-gal­lon tin cans of pineap­ple juice and the like. By Novem­ber, the poin­set­tia cut­tings would al­ready be in bloom and Lino usu­ally bought them at R20 apiece. Lino would then bring the bloom­ing poin­set­tias to Manila where he usu­ally sold them at R40 each or there­abouts, de­pend­ing on the con­di­tion of the plants.

The care­tak­ers were happy be­cause they made ex­tra in­come to aug­ment their al­lowance from the owners of the va­ca­tion houses. Lino told us that one care­taker can make as much as R20,000 in one sea­son which was a big amount in those days.

Later, Lino asked other gar­den­ers to pro­duce cut flow­ers for him to sell in Manila. These in­cluded an­thuri­ums, he­li­co­nias, true bird of par­adise and many oth­ers.

When our ar­ti­cle was pub­lished in Panorama, two guys, Raul B. Al­fonso and Au­gust M. Hipolito, from the Luisita Fire De­part­ment in Tar­lac, wrote us a let­ter. They thought it would have been bet­ter if the care­tak­ers planted veg­eta­bles rather than flow­ers which could not be eaten.

Well, we thought that was a good op­por­tu­nity for us to ex­plain that peo­ple don’t live by veg­eta­bles alone. There’s a place for veg­eta­bles and there is also a place for flow­ers in the scheme of things.

We told them that in our so­ci­ety, peo­ple also need flow­ers. For in­stance, if you are court­ing the girl of your dreams, you will send roses in­stead of pa­tola or sitao. When some­one dies and you want to ex­press your con­do­lence to the be­reaved, you don’t send a bas­ket of am­palaya and chill­ies. You send a flower ar­range­ment in­stead.

Dur­ing wed­dings, an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, grad­u­a­tion, con­fer­ences and other oc­ca­sions, flower ar­range­ments are an in­te­gral part of these events. In other words, there are as many uses of flow­ers as veg­eta­bles.

This means that there is a de­mand for flow­ers. And when­ever there is a de­mand, there is an op­por­tu­nity to make an hon­est in­come. And why do the care­tak­ers grow flow­ers in­stead of veg­eta­bles? Be­cause they can make more money by pro­duc­ing flow­ers. Also, some peo­ple en­joy growing flow­ers more than growing veg­eta­bles.

In another sense, the flower grow­ers help in the sur­vival of the veg­etable in­dus­try in the Cordillera. Since the flower grow­ers are mak­ing money, they have the means to buy the pro­duce of the veg­etable grow­ers. Now you see, it is good that some peo­ple also grow flow­ers in Baguio.— ZAC B. SARIAN

Poin­set­tia grows well in Baguio.

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