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Speech of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies of the 3rd Flora Filipina Expo 2012, Quezon Memorial Circle, Elliptical Road, Quezon City, 23 February 2012 4:00 p.m
Posted: Friday, February 24, 2012
To be honest, I may be out of my element today as I cannot tell the difference between a Cattleya and a Vanda.
I do however have the most beautiful blossom in my wife Dra. Elenita Binay.
My wife is blessed with a green thumb and her gift has turned our house into a warm and welcoming home.
Kahit na noong kami ay magkasintahan pa lamang, makikita na sa kanya ang pagkahilig sa paghahalaman.
Kaya naman po tiniyak ni Dra. Binay na hindi ko po makakaligtaang dumalo sa pagtitipon ninyo ngayong hapon.
It is certainly timely that the Philippine Orchid Society organized this expo. This is a golden chance to show Filipinos, especially the younger generations, just how rich and blessed our land is. We see beauty and majesty that only divine hands can create, and we gain appreciation of how these treasures evoke a very human spirit in all who gaze at them.
The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was known to say that, “Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.”
Indeed, the greatest works of architecture would look so barren without the warmth and grace that flora can lend. It is no wonder then that countries worldwide choose a flower to symbolize their nations.
In this regard, it is my pleasure to share with you, ladies and gentlemen, that just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives approved on its second reading House Bill 5655, a measure authored by Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano of Davao City, declaring the waling-waling orchid as a national flower of the Philippines alongside the sampaguita.
My dear friends,
Our floral industry is more than a balm that soothes our souls and lifts our spirits. It is emerging as a source of employment and revenue, and forms the center of major tourist attractions in the country. February is the month of Baguio’s legendary flower festival – the Panagbenga. Like California’s famous Rose Parade, it draws thousands of visitors and generates trade for so many communities, but I think you will agree that the Panagbenga eclipses its American counterpart for the sheer variety of flora that takes center stage.
Karamihan po sa mga bulaklak na tampok sa Panagbenga ay galing na rin sa Benguet at Mountain Province, kung saan ang klima ay kaaya-aya para sa pagyabong at pagpapalago ng mga bulaklak. Benguet has clearly proven that our country has the capacity to produce world-class, export-quality floral products. This new strength is also rising in the Southern Tagalog corridor as well as Mindanao, and stands to bring renown to the country and prosperity to thousands of families.
Our impressive biodiversity and endemism give us strong foundations. Of the 8,000 species of flowering plants that can be found in the country, 30 to 40 percent are endemic and can be found nowhere else in the world. We can and ought to responsibly build on this strength and I firmly believe that we can excel along this frontier.
There is much to be done however, if this industry is to fully bloom. Most countries of the world have readily available compendia of knowledge regarding their flora. These publications make it easier for governments and private organizations to reach sound decisions for conservation and environmental protection. We have no equivalent at this point and this creates serious ripples in biodiversity conservation and the advancement of floricultural science.
It is my modest opinion that for us to expand our reach in the global arena, three things must happen. I humbly ask for your help and expertise to help the country gain ground in these areas.
Una, hinihikayat ko po kayong makipagtulungan sa ating pamahalaan, partikular sa Department of Environment and Natural Resources at Department of Agriculture, upang mabigyang lunas ang kakulangan natin sa documentation. Kayo po ang mga dalubhasa sa industriya, at kasama ng iba pang academic experts at nature conservationists, sikapin po natin na makabuo ng “Flora of the Philippines” compendium.
Second, we need to expand the proliferation of floriculture enterprises so that it gains critical mass as a core competence of our nation’s agricultural communities. There is sustainable wealth in working the earth if farmers can move from basic to high-value crops, as the multi-storey houses of Benguet farm owners reveal and organizations like Gawad Kalinga advocate. Our brothers in the Cordilleras enjoy comforts that many other farmers can only dream of and if we can replicate their practices in other areas, then the floriculture trade can grow deep and strong roots. Expos and conventions like yours are prime channels for exchanging relevant technologies, best practices, and drafting timely policies and programs. I urge you to continue with these activities and to catalyze interest in floriculture in our provinces, working with like-minded organizations such as GK.
In addition, let us study the leading players in the European flower industry, particularly their models in floriculture production, research, training programs, and marketing strategies. Our friends in Europe have been able to export not just flowers, but also the equipment and technology needed by farms for efficient production. If we can find suitable tools and techniques offshore, then we can leverage the strength of our unique ornamental plants and flowers to gain a distinct presence and identity worldwide.
Lastly, new and improved varieties of ornamental plants form the backbone of the industry. Breeders play a crucial role in this area by developing the varieties and hybrids, and helping in the production of planting materials for commercial growers. Seeing the passion of the crowd here, I know that we have the talent needed for this purpose.
In 2001, scientists from the Department of Horticulture in UP Los Banos were already able to produce 12 ornamental hybrids which included one anthurium and two types of orchids. Imagine what is possible if we can harness the strength of all the members of your community. Your deft grasp of this field will be invaluable to our scientists in developing better varieties of these plants. Your expertise will allow more facets of nature’s jewels to shine and these shall be sought after in both local and international markets. We can go far if we wish, and I encourage all of you to fuel these dreams and give them life.
“The earth laughs in flowers,” Emerson wrote. Working together, perhaps we can coax our land to smile and witness its laughter bring prosperity to our countrymen, as we finally see the floriculture industry truly blossom into the global arena.
Maraming salamat po.
Mabuhay kayong lahat.