June 2, 2023

Stella Maria L. de Guia
With the world under lockdown and quarantine, people are turning green. Not in a naughty sense, but in a more robust environmental sense. Little nooks and gardens have become wonderlands, as planting and plant nurturing has become the new craze.
People are nudged like the proverbial bubble bulb to engage in this green revolution. Cacti or cactuses and indoor plants have suddenly become the “in” thing. In fact, giant plants are going indoor. The Baguio Orchidarium is probably experiencing a boom in business. Bakers, technologists, housewives, fathers, and mothers alike have been initiated into the green thumb revolution. Even the ukay-ukay business has turned into selling cacti and indoor plants. There are many selling plants in social media. Be careful thought of splinters or “saludsod” in Tagalog, cacti are famous for it.
I feel like humming Dinah Washington’s song, “What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours. Brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain…” Planting is one of the positive outcomes of quarantine.
Lifestyle changes has been happening and is becoming. Take the case of balikbayan Pete Siapno. His lifestyle has taken many twists and turns: from being a disk jockey – artists, to a Loyola manager, to a chef, to being a member of several civic organizations, to the U.S. as health provider and back to the Philippines, to his plant hobby. He was invited to the Baguio Association of Restaurants (BAR) by Sizzling Plate owner Edna Anton.
“I basically got into the gardening hobby because of the limited movement of quarantine,” says Pete. Actually he already envisioned what he wanted to do with his little garden back in the States and quarantine has given him that opportunity. In fact, just a week after he got back to Baguio, he already started with his garden. ”Gardening gives one a source of fulfillment and enlightenment. I cannot explain the feeling when you see your plants thrive and the sheer beauty of it.”
Pete really loves plants. In fact, every nook and corner of his house is filled with plants. “When I wake up in the morning, I say good morning first to my plants, before I say good morning to my wife,” he lovingly jokes his lovely wife Emma. They have four children: Alyh, Lyza, Ricky and Kaye. Two are in the Philippines and two are in the U.S.
It’s amazing how he has transformed his little garden into a haven complete with plants, lights, fountains and greenery. It must be the artist and the drive for excellence in Pete that gives what he touches a new look or meaning. He has his own way of designing and arranging too. He spends a lot time and resources to achieve his goal including his backaches.
He started this hobby with a round plant dish and it grew from there. He is now a regular at the Baguio Orchidarium and has about seven “suki” or regular plant suppliers. They smile as soon as they see him. His love for plants and cooking was inherited from his inang Narsing and his amang Pedring. In fact, Pete puts a term to it, “From Dishes to Dish Garden.”
Pete used to own Pedro’s with wife Emma located at the La Azotea food court which was taken over by Eden and George and now called Krismer’s.As a young man and DJ, he was into pointillism art using pencil and ballpen.
Other plant or green enthusiasts or lovers has taken on this hobby too. My son Nashi and daughter-in-law Jacki’s brother Joel Molina, who is also a chef –baker, has also been enamored by the plant hobby. I think his house is now filled with plants more than bakery items. Jon Estolas has taken his plant hobby to a new level, inside the fish tank. I met Millie, a former student now housewife, who is into the cacti hobby and is willing to pay even if the cost is a little high.
In my article last week about the 75th Anniversary of the End of WW II,” there was a typo error on Fulbright scholar. And in my article on ‘The Sirs and Dames of Old Tourism Days,” Rochel Mae “Kuku” Andaya, daughter of Ben Andaya was born on May 11, 1978 and Benjo on Aug. 10, as corrected by Mamang Precy Andaya. Cheers!