By Yvette Tan

The Philippines is known for its diverse flora. And yet, its floriculture industry barely makes a dent in the world market. The Flora Filipina Expo hopes to change that.

Held every three years since 2006, the Flora Filipina Expo 2019 showcases some of the country’s rarest and most beautiful Philippine plants, as well as new locally produced hybrids.

A project of the Philippine Orchid Society and the Department of Agriculture, the event aims to “unify the floriculture industry and to promote Philippine floriculture to the world,” says Dr. Kelvin Manubay, Vice President of the Philippine Orchid Society. 

Phalaenopsis stuartiana.

“We have called on the participation of all the major producers, collectors, and hobbyists of plants in the country from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao… to show what products they have so that it can be seen by the foreigners who come here and link them up with their buyers. It’s like a trade show to promote Philippine floral products and garden products,” he adds.

A Festival of Flowers

There are many things to see and learn about in the Flora Filipina Expo. Landscape exhibits showcase both the country’s most beautiful plants and the craft of its most talented gardeners and landscapers, as well as a a Bonsai and Suiseki Festival. “Some of the best bonsais in the world are found in the Philippines, which we are proud of and they will see that in our exhibit,” Dr. Manubay says.

There will also be a bougainvillea festival in honor of the colorful flower that’s easy to grow in the Philippines and is in big demand overseas. “We will be having field trips to the farms and places that produce bougainvilla because as of now, those are the plants that we can really show off because bougainvilleas grow all over the Philippines,” Dr. Manubay says.

There will be an ongoing free lecture series where participants can learn about growing orchids, ornamentals, ferns, and cacti, as well as a trade fair that will include exhibitors from other countries including Taiwan, Ecuador, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 

Dendrobium bullenianum.

Untapped Economic Potential

The international floriculture industry generates a profit of US$ 97.2 Billion, with the Philippines contributing only .02%. This means that there is much room for the local industry to grow, especially since, as Dr. Manubay says, “ the world market demands for new plants, new hybrids that they can market commercially.” 

There will always be a demand for ornamental plants. “Since you are born, you are baptised, when you get married, when you get a debut, until you die, there is flowers involved. Everybody uses flowers,” Dr. Manubay says. “If we can make that a whole big industry nationwide like the way Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia are doing, then we will definitely boom economically.”

Flora Filipina Expo 2019 runs from February 24 to March 5 at the QC Circle.