Wanted plantitos, plantitas this Valentine’s Day

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GUIGUINTO, Bulacan— Paint this Valentine’s Day green and with flowers in pots and soil, ornamental plant growers, gardeners and landscape artists in this considered garden capital of the country call on pandemic phenomenal “plantitos,” “plantitas,” “plantlolos” and “plantlolas”.

The more than 200 members of the Guiguinto Garden City Cooperative (GGCC) are now more than ready to meet the demands of the plantitos and the plantitas with even discounted prices following the recently concluded weeklong 25th Year Guiguinto Halamanan Festival last February 18-22.

Christian Javier, president of GGCC said many in their group had prepared different varieties of plants for this Valentine season because they want to feel and experience again the 2020 pandemic plantitos and plantitas phenomenon. 

She said that after the hard lockdowns during the pandemic, their sales have returned to regular ordinary sales and the plantitos and plantitas phenomenon did not recur. 

Isabelita “Aling Lita” Arellano tends to her plants at her stall in Violeta Village in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Guiguinto  Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

The drop in sales since January and in the past several months were expected as things have started to go back to normal wherein people have their expenditure priorities, says Javier. 

“Siguro dahil marami na silang priorities na pinagkakaabalahan  at ginagastusan. Compared noong pandemic time na ang tao talagang naglibang, nasa bahay lang, lumabas lang talaga sila at dumayo pa dito sa Bulacan, sa Guiguinto para lang bumili ng halaman,” (Maybe because of the other priorities and the now works and busy schedule of the people. Unlike during the pandemic when people really craved for something worthwhile to do at home. They travelled far here in Bulacan, in Guiguinto just to by plants”, she said.

Although Javuer acknowledges that such imtense buying mode of the people is now farfetched, she said special occasion like Valentine’s Day is a huge opportunity for higher sales rates. 

The assorted colors Bougainvilleas on display and sales on the approach of the North Luzon Expressway  (NLEX) Entry in Tabang, Guiguinto. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

This almost heallth restriction-free Valentine season,  Javier and her members prepared flowery plants like the grafted one tree-four and multiple colored Bougainvilleas at P1,500 each, Roses at P75-P300; Cosmos at P50-P150 and assorted types and colors of Orchids at P150-P300 and Sunflower for P50-P100.

Bougainvilleas are grafted from 3-15 different colors in a tree, according to Javier.  

At her garden stall just after the Tabang Toll gate exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Rubber tree, Yucca tree, Zebra, Monstera Deliciosa, Celum , Piddle leaf, Pandakaki and San Francisco and many more are on discounted prices and on sale since the Halamanan Festival.

The scenic beauty of the garden stalls along the approach of the NLEX Entry in Tabang, Guiguinto. ruz, Guiguinto  Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Allan Martin, 40, manager at Javier’s Garden stall told NEWS CORE on Sunday that young ones, ages 20 ‘s up to early 30’s prefer roses and sunflowers but those aged 40’s and up usually look for orchids, cosmos and bougainvilleas.  

After the plantitos and plantitas day during the hard lockdowns, sales have never been the same, according to Isabelita Arellano, 65, owner of Aling Lita’s Garden in Violeta Village in Barangay Sta. Cruz, one of the oldest garden nursery and showcase stores.    

During the early months of the pandemic, Aling Lita, regularly ship worth P60,000-P200,000 a week of assorted types of plants in Port Area, Manila bound for Cebu and Leyte while buyers from as far as Ilocos, Bicol, Laguna, Cavite, Quezon, Pangasinan came to their store. Those days, she sold P60-P180,000 daily in May-December 2020.

But today, their over-all regular daily sales is only priced at P20,000-P30,000.

“Bago mag-pandemic, sakto lang ang kita. Pero noong nag-pandemic, boom na boom. Iyong mga buyers nag-aaway sa halaman, nagdudunggulan sila makuha lang ang halaman na gusto nila. Noon wala silang pinalampas na uri o klase, lahat binibili nila. Pero ngayon matumal na. Ngayong Valentine’s Day inaasahan naming kahit paano lalakas din basta mabuhay ulit ang mga plantitos at plantitas panregalo nila sa love of my life nila,” (Before the pandemic, our sales and earnings are just enough. But it was really a hit and there was a great boom in sales. Buyers race for all types of plants and they fight each other elbow to elbow. They bought all types of plants. But these days are slow, However, this coming Valentine’s Day, we are hoping the platitos and the plantitas would be revived to patronage our plants again as special gifts to the love of their lives), she said.

But according to Javier, despite the decline in individuals and household purchases, the regular customers in sports parks or golf courses, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other recreational and theme parks had made the industry to continue to thrive and bloom.

The green and flowery plants also along the Exit and Entry of NLEX in Tabang, Guiguinto. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

This time, because of their recent completion of National Certificate (NC) 2 for landscaping designs by the Department of Technical Education and Skills Training Development Authority (TESDA) under the initiative and program of Bulacan Fifth District Rep. Ambrosio “Boy” Cruz Jr., Javier expressed confidence the plant industry will make its strong waves again.

She said they now target even international landscaping clienteles. Javier is proud that Guiguinto has been known for 25 years now as the Garden Capital of the country which not only propagates and supply ornamental plants but has the best landscape artists in the country.   

Cruz brainchild the Halamanan Festival in 1998 when he was first elected mayor of Guiguinto to give identity to the town which had been known for years as nursery and garden areas of blooming green and flowery ornamental plants right after the Tabang, Guiguinto Exit and Entry of the North Luzon Expressway including within the Tabang Cloverleaf area. 

According to Javier, the Halamanan Festival gave their industry the “full bloom and maturity” as they now regularly supply Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

New Guiguinto Mayor Atty. Agatha Paula Cruz said the garden industry in Guiguinto which is now about 60-70 years old has grown bigger and bigger. The Garden City Cooperative which now has more than 200 members has already surmounted to worth P500 million.

According to the mayor, she aims to expand the industry into more than P1-Billion worth business.  “Other than the acquired new techniques, styles and designs in landscape under the TESDA program, we continue to develop new hi-breed of ornamental plants through our horticulture laboratory supported by the Department of Science and Technology,” she said.   

The green and flowery plants also along the Exit and Entry of NLEX in Tabang, Guiguinto. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Roel Dela Cruz, Guiguinto agriculture officer, the climate adaptability and strength of their plants give them the edge from Baguio and Tagaytay. He said Guiguinto-grown plants can withstand both the heat of the sun and cold weather.  

Other common plants these days that are widespread in Guiguinto are Eugenia, Hawaiian Palms, White Angel, Pandakaki, topiary kinds, bonsai plants and about a hundred other varieties.

“Basta masipag ang kamay at matiyaga uunlad ka sa paghahalaman. Masaya ako makita masigla at malago ang mga halaman ko. Nasasaktan ako kapag ang mga tao ko o anak ko may nakitang pangit na, na halaman, binubunot at tinatapon, ako nabubuhay ko pa iyon. Kaya binawalan ko na sila na gawin iyon,” (As long as you keep your hands busy in work in your garden and you persevere, you will reap the fruit of the seeds you sow.  It makes me happy to see my plants bloom and it pains me to see my worker or my children to throw away an unlively plant they thought was already dead. I pick them up and take care of them until they recover and become lively again. I refrained them from repeating the same mistake,” Aling Lita added. 

“Plants will bring you joy and a different feeling of relaxation and peace as long as you know how to take care of them,” she ended.

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