Erna's Ikebana hobby

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


IT’S been a while since I noticed the beautiful flower arrangement posted by Erna Gamones-Maagad on her Facebook page.

The arrangements took my breath away. It's just beautiful and refreshing to the eyes. I experience inner peace when I see her arrangements. I shared some of her posts on my news page on Facebook because I just love her work. I'm no stranger to Ikebana; I know it is a Japanese term second to bonsai.

The other day, I chanced upon Erna on Facebook and we chatted for a while.

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By the way, Erna maintained her youthful looks and school girl charm after retiring as manager of Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in several branches in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao in the Philippines.

We talk about the floral arrangements she made together with her group and answered questions though it was past midnight back home.

For the uninitiated, “Ikebana" is from the Japanese ikeru (????, "keep alive, arrange flowers, living") and hana (??, "flower").

Possible translations include "giving life to flowers" and "arranging flowers." Unknown to her, I have become a fan of her work since last year. I can still remember it was that time when she posted the floral arrangement at St. Augustine’s Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro and I was impressed; it was eye-catching.

From her I learned that Cagayan de Oro has two Ikebana chapters---the Ikebana International Cagayan de Oro Chapter 163 and the Ikenobo International Cagayan de Oro Chapter.

“The Ikebana International meets every first Saturday of the month, 3 pm at VIP Hotel while Ikenobo meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month 3 pm also at VIP Hotel. Ikebana's membership fee is P3,500 per annum while Ikenobo is P300 per annum,” Erna said.

“You cannot join both clubs unless you undergo basic training first because you'll be taught proper care of plants and basic tools and containers, like cutting plants and flowers for your arrangement which should be in the morning or late in the afternoon,” she added.

I thought then that all they do is just cut and cut. It's also important to cut under water the stem of flowers/plants before placing them in vases because there are various kinds of vases.

“But the basic one is moribana or the low vase and nageiri or the tall vase,” Erna said.

She said there is a special kind of cutter for these flowers and plants. “Not just an ordinary pair of scissors. We also use Kenzan, that heavy round, square or rectangle metal with nails where you put the stem of your flowers and plants so they will easily stand or go to what direction you may want to portray,” Erna said.

Again, I sorted through Google and I learned that there are various schools of Ikebana, the Sogetsu and the Ikenobo. The Sogetsu is mostly free style. Click on this link for more info: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/ikebana/ikebana01.html. In Sogetsu, your artistic side comes out as you arrange the stems, flowers and plants according to your own vision. Most often those engaged in Ikebana ask flowers from friendly neighbors especially unique flowers.

One doesn't have to buy expensive flowers; Ikebana is actually a big business now. Ikebana exhibits adopt a theme like any presentation and they often use recycled materials. “Like our Bukag Series or native baskets,” Erna said.

Did I tell you that Ikenobo has a school that's already 550 years old? In Japan, most of the practitioners are men, not women. A lot of people claim that Ikebana is an effective stress reliever and a form of therapy for others. It's like photography, singing and reading and other hobbies. We all need hobbies like these for healing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Erna said Ikebana is a stress buster and I couldn't agree more. Erna joined an Ikebana group more than 10 years ago through the invitation of a friend and classmate, Eileen Escobar San Juan. Their teacher is Consuelo Aberasturi, known as Tita Tilo among them.

Personally I know Erna has the knack for creativity because her home is living proof of her artistic side. As a parting shot, Erna has this open invitation to the public. “I advise members to join exhibits so you will have more confidence in arranging and of course practice at home, office, church. It’s like singing or cooking, if you don't practice actively, you'll run out of ideas,” she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 27, 2014.

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