Find your sun
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - July 2, 2013 - 12:00am

Eleven years ago, when my family and I moved to our townhouse in Parañaque, a friend, Amy, gave me a three-feet-high sapling of the Kamuning tree. An avid gardener, Amy said the Kamuning grows fast and blooms prolifically.

“At night,” she told me, “the air would be filled with its sweet fragrance!”

The Kamuning plant grew up obediently and spread its branches. Soon, tiny green leaves coated the branches.

One day, Amy asked if the tree was already blooming. “Not yet,” I replied. “Soon maybe.” She described to me how a Kamuning in bloom looked like and I etched it in my memory. It is supposed to be lush with tiny white flowers with dainty petals, like a sampaguita.

The next time she asked me if the Kamuning was blooming already, my reply was the same.  “Not yet.” And the next time. And the next.

Years passed. My son, who was 16 when we moved in, graduated from college and got a job. The Kamuning had graduated from its gangly stage and was a proud little slender tree now. But still no blooms.

Some blamed it on my shaded garden. Even the maid with the “mainit na kamay” was once tagged as a culprit, because nothing she cultivated lived another day.

But one day about three years ago, in  the common pocket garden outside my gate, a tree started to grow unnoticed. Till one dewy evening, it was hard to ignore. It was alluringly fragrant, and it would unleash its scented charm at night, when blooms from the tree would carpet the ground like confetti.

A Kamuning had grown untended outside my yard, the product, we presumed, of busy birds and bees and lots of sun!

There were times we would ask our househelp (not the one with “mainit na kamay”) to gather the tiny white blooms from the Kamuning outside our gate and arrange them in tiny bowls, where they would float in water. They gave our home the ambience of a spa.

But the original Kamuning tree in our garden was slow with its blooms. It was dwarfed by the giant traveller’s palm beside it, and the intimidating neem tree a few yards from it (given to me by another dear friend Lydia when my family moved to this townhouse). There were times, I must admit, when I considered transplanting the Kamuning tree. Because it seemed to give no added value to the garden, not even shade.  My husband Ed wouldn’t hear of it. For him, every plant or tree in our small but lush garden had a special place. He doesn’t like uprooting anyone or anything from our home, even old wooden palo china headboards that he vows to fashion into something one day.


One evening last June, a month when the sun often did a peek-a-boo and the rains were hardly bashful, a whiff of fragrant fresh air wafted through the cathedral windows by our staircase. It was a familiar scent. My pulse quickened. I peeped out of the window and beheld a familiar tree, its crown lush now, studded with tiny white blooms that glowed like lustrous pearls in the dark.

Our Kamuning was blooming! Finally! Eleven long years after it found a place in our garden, it was rewarding our patience.


“Joanne, look!” Ed called out excitedly to me the next day. As he once wrote, he is acutely aware of everything in our garden, down to the last inch the Sanggumay orchid has grown by the Indian tree in the far end of our lanai. He then pointed out the blooms in the Kamuning. I told him I already saw the blooms the night before, and we all but clapped. How a middle-aged couple like us can get so excited over a Kamuning tree in bloom may befuddle others, but not us. You see, when our lives (our work, our relationships, our everyday existence) hit a rough spot, we like to look at struggling plants in our garden and see their tenacity. And then we see the survivors, which count for most of our plants, swaying proudly in the wind. Almost always, we are encouraged, like we’ve just seen one of those inspirational quotes posted by friends on Facebook.

“Naabot na niya ang araw,” Amy told me when I excitedly showed her a photo of the Kamuning tree in bloom. It had found its sun, and having found it, reveled in it till it bloomed.


In life, we have to search for our sun, and having found it, arch our faces towards it. Like a sunflower. Our Kamuning tree, having found a foothold in our garden, inched patiently towards the sun, struggling to get out of the shadow of the bigger trees, the wider leaves around it. It had a slow start, but it got to where it wanted. Naabot na niya ang araw.

Just like a dear friend, former bank executive Johanna Garcia, who after years in the corporate world has decided to be the master of her universe — her kitchen! She set up her own food business, Real Girl, Toy Kitchen, and sells delicious sauces and dips, and entrées the like of which you only see in  fancy restaurants at affordable prices. Johanna has found her sun, and is happily orbiting around it. There are also acclaimed painters like Carlos Rocha, who is said to have found his second calling (painting) in midlife and turned to it. My husband’s former boss, advertising man Boy Javier, retired at 50, gave up his wristwatch (because he didn’t want to be pressured by time, having lived with deadlines all his working life) to be able to travel to destinations off the beaten track with his equally adventurous wife Tet. Sometimes he would go backpacking, whereas when he was the president of the ad agency, he only travelled First Class.

I have also heard of corporate queens who gave it all up to be domestic divas, finding their sun in tutoring their kids and making dinner for the hubby.

Happiness is really that which makes you bloom.

As for those around the late bloomers, woe to those who had little faith, or to those whose faith sometimes wavered. The desire for instant gratification makes us miss the slow starters, who eventually turn out to be winners in the garden of life. In God’s time, we will all bloom, some sooner than others. But it is sometimes the late bloomers that give out the most alluring scent, the most concrete successes, the most outstanding performances.

Find your sun. Reach out for it. And you, too, will bloom.


(You may e-mail me at


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