Flowers crushed, plucked, ruined

Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - November 3, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The owner of the farm in Barangay Sirao, Cebu City, made famous in social media for its picturesque rows of flowers has expressed disappointment over damaged flowers allegedly caused by careless or indifferent visitors.

In her Facebook account, farm owner Maria Elena Chua posted before and after photos of state of the flowers and voiced her disappointment at the behavior of some tourists.

“Seeing that it brought joy to the people, I decided not to harvest these flowers and let the people see and enjoy this little paradise. But when I went back the other day, I was disappointed ‘cause the flowers were trampled upon and crushed. The people didn't care about the flowers and walked all over them,” her status read.

Chua said the influx of local and foreign tourists made her decide to postpone cutting the flowers which were intended for All Saints’ and All Souls’ days.

Rather, she opened her farm open to the public so they can enjoy the beauty of the new and trending tourist spot.

Chua, a 53-year-old flight attendant, bought the 7,800-square meter property in Sirao in 1987. She originally planned to put up her rest house on the lot but since she was not yet ready to build it, she allowed half of the property to be planted with flowers such as chrysanthemums and daisies. A fourth of her property was also planted with the celosia flowers. Sometimes, the farmers would also plant vegetables and corn.

Chua said she used to visit her farm every year along with her family and friends and take photos. She was surprised when they noticed more tourists coming in a week before the harvest after a group of girls visited her farm and blogged about it.

She said that there are still tourists visiting the flower farm but not as many as before.

She shared that the celosia flowers which were picture-worthy have now been destroyed, cut and stepped on by the visitors who took photos of themselves along with the vibrant blooms.

“They were not like before when they were so healthy. Nagpahak-pahak na man tungod kay natumban,” she said.

She was also informed that visitors would reportedly cut or pull out the flowers themselves and bring these with them.

“Puwede ra sila gunitan pero di dapat balion. They also cannot cut the flowers. They were not for sale,” she said.

Chua said they expected the celosia blooms to last until November 10 but with the current state of the flowers, they might wither anytime this week.

Chua clarified she is not angry at people who came to take photos of the flowers in her farm but added they should have been more careful.  She also said she understands the excitement of the tourists and believes they will act responsibly next time. “We cannot control the people. Ang ako lang just respect lang unta the flower,” she said, admitting they also failed to put up signboards around their farm telling visitors what not to do.

Chua said the proceeds they earn from the entrance fees of the tourists do not really matter but added they were happy to help other flower farmers, vendors of corn and water, and motorcycle-for-hire drivers who also earned from the instant tourist site.

“Basta malipay mo tanan, malipay na ko. This is like a one-day miracle nga hulog sa langit. Di dapat ta makalimot og pasalamat sa Ginoo,” she said.

Chua said they are starting to plant the celosia seedlings in time for the Sinulog celebration next year. But she said that this time, the flowers will be harvested and be offered to the Holy Child.

She, however, clarified that her celosia garden will be open to the public before the harvest but urged the tourists to be more cautious.

“I strongly urge everyone to please respect and preserve this precious gift from above. Shouldn't we take care of these blessings,” Chua said in her post.

Chua’s post has gained 1,896 shares as of press time. Sirao, home to a number of celosia flower farms, has been tagged by netizens as the “#miniAmsterdam” or “#littleHolland” in the city. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

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