DIPOLOG FLOWERS

THE HOTTEST OF HOT SPOTS: THE PHILIPPINE OPPORTUNITY

The two largest islands, Luzon and Mindanao, together make up about two-thirds of the overall land area of the Philippine islands. The diversity of animal and plant life in this archipelago is very remarkable.

The biodiversity in these islands is astonishing. Forty-four per cent of the 395 breeding birds in the Philippines are found only in these islands. Sixrty-four per cent of the resident 174 mammals, 70% of the 240 reptiles, 75% of the amphibians, and 40% of the 8,000 flowering plants are endemic to these islands.

In some places, bird life thought to be extinct has been rediscovered, and due to the impenetrability of some forest areas amid the mountain gullies, there must be life yet unrecorded and undiscovered by inquisitive urban adventurers or academics.

The indigenous people are the true caretakers of these things. However, the fringe population is pressing nature into submission on many fronts, as they eke out a living along the edge of jungle paths and clearings.

The Curator of the Field Museum in Chicago, USA says that the Philippines has "perhaps the greatest concentration of endangered species of bird and mammals of any country." When it comes to conservation practices, the conservationist Mittermeier in 1998 stated that "the Philippines is both a mega-diversity country and one of the world's highest priority hot spots. Indeed, its combination of high diversity with very high levels of threat make it the 'hottest of all hot spots' and the country that deserves maximum attention from the international community."

Forest cover of the country was 60% in the 1930s, but commercial forest exploitation and population growth reduced this cover to 24% by 1988. By 1999, the figure was further sliced down to some 18%. By 2010, this might go either way, further reduced to a mere 6%, or due to reforestation and responsible practices, increased to 20%.

Population control is another matter. At current rates, the population might double in 80 years. This would surely be cataclysmic at many levels. China practices a "one family-one child" policy, India had a massive birth control programme, while some countries now have zero-population growth. What is the Philippines going to do? Will fatalism rule the roost? Or will humankind work hard on a solution for the benefit of all?

Palawan has a quarter of the total number of islands in the archipelago but only 1% of the population. What is to become of the Palawan Flowerpecker, the Sulphur-bellied Bulbul, the Palawan Hornbill and the better known Palawan Peacock Pheasant? What of the Palawan clawless otter, the finless porpoise and the hawksbill turtle?
Will people sweep them aside and digest the diversity of nature in the human quest for survival?

Nature Tourism might have a major role to play in providing livelihood while protecting the environment. In Africa, villagers manage their wildlife, and a symbiotic system nurtures both wild animals and human life. A system using these guidelines would enhance many things at many levels. Water Tourism as a low-impact transport method that would complement such a system.

In February, the "Mindoro Banka Circuit" as a pilot scheme is scheduled for implementation. Sorties on land might reveal sightings of the Tamaraw which is the small buffalo unique to Mindoro. In Lake Naujan, the estuarine crocodile might be spotted alongside the Wandering Whistling Duck. Elsewhere, the Philippine Cockatoo, and the Mindoro Hornbill could be seen. These would be exciting experiences in a world wonderfully rich in wildlife. Interior trekking in Mindoro would allow the possibility of sightings of the Mindoro Flying Fox, the trim and numerous deer and the noisy, scuffling wild pig.

The Philippines has a tremendous opportunity to stand up and be counted. It has a jewel in the crown of nature that is unsurpassed in most countries. The stand it takes will be revealed in the next decade. It can choose either way. It can reap destruction or supreme benefits depending on the flip of the coin of progress. The urbanization blinds it from the reality of nature's richness, and it will take the sensitivity of the third eye to nurture its wealth of wildlife and to revere the depth of its vibrant nature.
 

1. Sampaguita  (Jasminium sambac) (Family Oleaceae)   The Sampaguita is the national flower of the Philippines. It is a symbol of purity, simplicity, humility and strangth. Its blossom is celebrated in Philippine legends, stories and songs. The fragrant flower is white and shape like a star. It grows either as a single blossom or in clusters at the tips of branches. The sampaguita plant is a woody vine or shrub that grows to about 4 ft high. The first sampaguita came from India. Sampaguita buds are made into garlands and bouquets.
 

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 Bougainvillea glabra Choisy
 

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(Bougainvillea Spectabilis)
 

5. Bougainvillea   (Family Nyctaginaceae)
The flowers grow on the branch in cluster of three. Each cluster is surrounded by three large colored leaves or bracts. The bright color of the bracts attracts insects. Each of the small flowers is shaped like a tube. The bougainvillea plant is a climbing vine. Its stems are usually thorny.  It was names for Louise-Antoine de Bougainville, a French navigator who discovered the plant in Brazil. It was brought to the Philippines as a decorative plant.

 

5. Ilang-ilang (Cananga odorata) (Family Annonaceae)  They belong to the Atis family. The flowers are very fragrant. They have a long green drooping petals that turn yellow before fading.  The blossoms hang on a stalk up 1 inch long. Both sepals and petals are slightly hairy. Ilang-ilang grows in the wild and also cultivated.  The flowers are made into leis, and also its oil are taken from the flowers to make perfume.  Ilang-ilang is native to the Philippines. It is also found in Malaysia , Burma and Java
 

 

6. Camia  (Hedychium philippinense) (Family Zingiberaceae)
These fragrant flowers are usually white with pale yellow centers. Others are cream-colored with bright yellow cores. Camia plant of the ginger family is a tall herb about 5 feet high. Its smooth leaves on top and hairy underneath. Its stem is soft and juicy and is similar to that of the ginger plant. It grows underground and creeps horizontally producing new shoots at the tips.
 

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Heliconias Psittacorum (Heliconiaceae) are remarkable plants, not only for the beauty of their flowers, but also for the fact that they are so mysterious -- so little is known about them, their cultivation and care. Anyone travelling in the tropics will marvel at these large, eye-catching plants when they are in bloom. Although these large tropical flowers are natives to only Central and South America and some islands of the South Pacific, their easy cultivation and spectacular presence have made them favorite garden subjects throughout the world.

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7. Birds of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) The familiar orange and blue flower , a native of Africa. The bird of paradise resembles a long necked bird with a golden crest. Each flower merges in full color from a boat-shaped casing with up to six dazzling flowers that emerge over a period of a week or two. The bird of paradise evolved in Madagascar, a large island east of Africa. It is one of the few flowers in the world pollinated by birds feet.
 


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8. Anthurium  (Anthurium andraeanum)  The original anthurium was introduced in Hawaii by an English missionary in 1889 from Columbia. Most anthuriums are primarily ornamental. The flowers are very popular because of their brilliant colors and durability even after they are cut.. Anthuriums last several weeks after cutting and they travel well, delighting people all over the world with their shiny, heart-shaped petals.