I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

18 April, 2013

Sampaguita, our National Flower

Go ahead use it for your report. just include my url
and note those are the jagged leaves of the Hydrangea
  My Sampaguita, pretending to be a Hydrangea (Milflores).

  Dear Sampaguita, you smell so sweet, can be made into ice cream, worn as a garland, offered to saints and superstars, blended into perfumes.

     Why try to be what you are not? Ah, are you merely stretching your branches, curling them around your neighbor...she blooms as much, is pretty in her pink blush, but shares no fragrance.

     This is Santa Rosa, Laguna, you blossomed in fields in San Pedro, Laguna. In fact there is a coffee table book on Laguna...with you on the cover. Inside, however, too much reference to its politicians.  I wonder about those fields in San Pedro. I would like to see them someday.

   Harvesting sampaguita daily has my home and my head happily intoxicated with its scent.  The joy is momentary. I saw the small boy with his bunch of garlands, the same boy who sold at the church on Easter, selling by the highway this evening. It hurts to wave him away, I do not buy this time.  I can justify buying again, what's ten, twenty pesos...the poor kid has to go home...at least he's selling something not begging, my not buying will not make this business cease. Many easy reasons to just buy.

   I must stand firm, buying will just keep them around. I didn't buy, but others will, and the boys parents will continue to take them here, from San Pedro, to sell.  Outside church he had sat on the arm rest of the bench we were on. He had a bedside manner and we had a chat.  I suggested that that pitiful look and begging people to buy was..."old". That that "style" puts people off. Actually he finished my sentence for me, and seemed to know exactly what I was saying. He looked 7 but is probably a malnourished 10.  He spoke of his mother making him sell.  He knew the ''script", actually, so street-wise. It is sad how hardened they sometimes are. I encouraged him to continue schooling, no matter how hard things may seem. People like me do naively talk to them this way.

   I hate the bittersweet feeling I have, of enjoying the flowers in my garden, yet thinking about the child vendors.  My child, she is keenly aware of them. I just don't know to what extent she is innocent of their business.  I hope she simply enjoys the flowers the way she does, forever.


   The gardener who pruned trees would pause, smile at the plant, and say, proudly, "Our National Flower!". In English, he would say this.  As if reciting in a classroom.  I remember thinking, well, what does that really mean for the sampaguita?  This or other varieties, or jasmine, is used by other cultures, strung into even more beautiful and thicker leis than ours.  I don't know if they have the vendors we do.  National flower, national pride...national symbol. A poignant symbol it has become.

   This is terrible, starting out with the pretty picture and ending again with pessimism.  To think I tire of all the focus on poverty in the media--in Indie films, in published works. And I have not written eloquently nor expounded on my thoughts. Pesky.

The only clear shot. But with a fly.

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