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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Flames of flowers in mountain barangay of Sirao, Cebu City fan selfies

THERE is a place up north, far from the monstrous traffic in Cebu City, that offers the best site for selfies and pre-nuptial pictorials.

It is a flower farm in Sirao, a mountain barangay of Cebu City, about 17 kilometers uphill from JY Square in Lahug.

Up there, one becomes a tourist ready to cup a coxcomb or peep through the multi-colored celosia and stage selfies worthy of Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG) likes.

The flowers were scheduled for cutting last Tuesday, Oct. 27, in time for the kalag-kalag, but the influx of tourists since Monday has prompted an indefinite postponement.



On offer

A call to the farm overseers yesterday revealed that the flowers will no longer be cut due to a public demand of more selfies.

The dead can wait for their flowers.

The privately-owned BJ Farm grows ornamental flowers whose names many selfie tourists may not have bothered to find out.

There are the flame-like celosia, or “burlas” in Cebuano as it is suggestive of tassel, and the “brain celosia” called coxcomb, or “tapay,” as suggestive of a rooster’s comb.

There are also the deep-hued daisy, or gerbera, the solemn-white chrysanthemum, and the playful aster, or what one flower arranger calls baby’s breath. There are roses somewhere, too.

Growing period

At the farm, the celosia sells for P25 per six stems and the gerbera and chrysanthemum for P40 a dozen. Elsewhere, their prices go up when they go down to the city and get makeovers.

The flower beds occupy about a fourth of a hectare, says caretaker Severino Ople, 61. It takes him two hours every day to water the plants using a hose plugged to a deep well. He has to keep the soil moist.

The sun-loving flowers take three months to grow and bloom from the time their seeds are planted. In this batch, the celosia and coxcomb were planted in July.

The celosia yield red, pink, purple, orange, gold or bicolor blossoms. Blooming in rows, they resemble fire. Celosia is Greek for “burning.”

Compensation

To be among the celosia in Sirao is to be burnt alive and smiling, Greek-speak. This is the closest one can get to Greece, for P20.

Picture-taking among the flowers costs P20 per person. One has to pay for beauty; only FB and IG likes are free.

Ople, whose family oversees the farm, says they charge visitors to compensate for the inadvertent damage done on the flowers when they take pictures.

The flower farm has suddenly become popular, thanks to FB and IG. It has become an instant tourist spot; it’s accessible by foot, by habal-habal (P160 round-trip per person inclusive of waiting time) and by ordinary car.

The Ople family is happy and proud that people have taken interest in their flower farm, says Jojie Limotan, a family member.

To everyone who has been there, the Oples extend their thanks. To those who are still on their way up, the celosia are still there. With additional reporting from Bryan Sanchez
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