Flowers and bees, and All Saints’ Day | Inquirer Business

Flowers and bees, and All Saints’ Day

/ 05:29 AM October 28, 2015

FLOWERS and candles are part of Filipinos’ life, especially on such occasions as the coming Undas or All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), cutting across diverse regional cultures and religion nationwide.

There is always a pot of flowers and candles to adorn household altars and loved ones’ resting places.

As in many other countries, flowers are given to someone as expression of love and affection; it is a gift to console the weary or to commemorate significant moments. Besides Undas, this is strongly evident during occasions such as Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), school graduation (March and April), May Flower Festival, and Yuletide (December).


In Metro Manila, the center of flower trade is the Dangwa Flower Market in Manila. Prices have gone up as of the weekend, however, due to less deliveries from northern Luzon which was hit by Typhoon “Lando.”


Flower farmer Lani Ganayan, who also runs a flower stall in Dangwa, says via text message, “Sirang sira po ang mga bulaklak namin dito sa Benguet, lalo na sa municipalities of Atok, Kibungan, Buguias, La Trinidad, sa Typhoon Lando.”

(Flower farms in Benguet, especially in the municipalities of Atok, Kibungan, Buguias and La Trinidad were heavily damaged by Typhoon Lando).

“Prices shot up right after the typhoon,” Nilda Borres of Cebu, president of the 50-member Dangwa Flower Market Association, says in an interview in Manila. The prices of roses, a staple in flower arrangements, rose to P220 a bundle from P70 a bundle.

Provincial agriculturists are still assessing damage due to Lando, Cora Atiw-an of the Benguet provincial agriculturists’ office says in a phone interview. She says it appears that farmer may still be able to make deliveries to markets such as those in Metro Manila.

Benguet alone has 3,060 hectares of agricultural land. Some 380 hectares are devoted to the production of cut flowers like gladioli, roses, chrysanthemums, statice, ponpon, dahlia, anthurium and baby’s breath. The rest are planted with vegetables and plantation or industrial crops like coffee, citrus and other fruit bearers such as banana and mango. The province’s cut flower production in 2014 reached about 32.9 million dozens.

Bahong and Ambiong Rose and Cutflower Farms are among the major tourist draws of Benguet.


Allaying fears of lower flower supply from Benguet, Atiw-an says, “Benguet farmers are resilient and they find ways and means to rehabilitate their farms, so harvests of cut flowers will still be abundant before the season.”

And even if prices may increase, Atiw-an says, it will only be a fraction of the market cost, since there are still other unaffected farms that may yield enough cut flower varieties to meet the demand during the season.

Borres, who runs KitKats Flower Shop in Dangwa, says there are still enough flowers for Undas despite Lando’s rampage. Borres says deliveries of Malaysian mums, anthurium are still coming from Baguio although flowers for sale now are mostly from Quezon and Pampanga, while some come from China, Thailand.

In the last few years, demand has substantially increased given the rapid growth in population, higher standard of living, rising number of hotels and restaurants, and the influx of tourists. Clients have, however, become more demanding and choosy.

The increase in demand triggered more production. However, despite the larger area devoted to cut flowers, there remains a supply shortfall. Domestic demand is so big the country has no option but to import some cut flowers, mainly chrysanthemum and orchids.

Nicolo Aberasutri, a biodynamic farmer from Bukidnon, says innovation is key in the business for value-added operations.

“We got into flower farming by accident, our family business is cattle raising and we had to compost our farm waste to meet environment standards,” Aberasutri says. He adds he did not have the market for the compost at that time so he tried to use it in his farm and one of the crops he tried was garden roses. That is how he stumbled onto the flower business, he says.

“Yes, innovation is constant in flower farming because in the Philippines, demand for flowers is very seasonal and very fashion-oriented so color preference changes every year,” Aberasutri says.

The Philippine Ornamental Horticulture Industry has come a long way since the 1970s, when growers were mostly hobbyists or plant enthusiasts. In the mid 1980s, the industry became a huge source of income and a potential source of foreign revenue.

Interest in the commercialization of horticultural products grew to a point where the government recognized its importance and contribution to the local economy. The number and size of farms continue to increase and more farms are now adopting modern technologies where appropriate. In some cases, foreign technology is used to boost production and quality. Promotion on the use of ornamental horticulture products increased people’s awareness of the industry’s benefits.

The floriculture industry in the Philippines is almost synonymous with the ornamental horticulture industry —the former connotes flowers while the latter includes flowers and other ornamentals. The country offers the following horticultural products for both domestic and external trade.


Bees bring light

Those who want more environment-friendly items to remember those who passed away can also use beeswax candles (which sell at around P250 to P300 for regular-sized ones) when they hold vigil for Undas. Besides helping bee farmers improve their income, buying beeswax candles gives one a product that is non-hazardous, non-carcinogenic, solvent- and petrol-free (as opposed to paraffin wax candles), and keeps longer under all weather conditions because of its high melting point.

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms in Cavite is among those that sell candles using beeswax harvested from its own beehives. “Gently rendered in our solar wax melter. Refined under very low heat. Retains the fragrance of honey indefinitely. Beeswax candles are smokeless and dripless,” Ilog Maria describes its products.

Modern beekeeping in the Philippines was introduced during the American regime. It was then that the European honeybee (Apis mellifera), the preferred species for commercial beekeeping, was recorded to have been introduced to the country. Before that, the species found locally were the Asian honeybees, Apis cerana and the stingless Trigona spp., as well as the giant Apis dorsata which defies domestication.

Yet, beekeeping as an industry has barely grown in the Philippines compared to neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan.

The Philippines continues to fail to realize the potential of the industry mainly due to the presence of pests; lack of capital, equipment, facilities, and proper training on beekeeping technologies for marginal farmers; as well as the cost of importing the European honeybee.

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If the flower farming and beekeeping industries are to grow, they will need support from each and every Filipino consumer.

TAGS: All Saints’ Day, Candles, flowers

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