President Corazon Aquino tribute

President Corazon Aquino tribute exhibit booth landscaped by Mr. Kelvin Manubay, Mr. Jun Golamco, Mr. Rommel Arriola, Mr. Lawrence Chan with the help of Mr. Edilberto Capague Jr. and Mr. Jiffy Alegre  during the 63rd Mid-Year Orchid & Garden Show last August 27 to September 7 , 2009 at Quezon Cityhall grounds

Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was the President of the Philippines and is considered as  “Mother of Democracy” in the Philippines. Serving from 1986 to 1992, she was the first female president of the Philippines and the first female president of any country in Asia.

Unknown to many, she is a nature and an orchid lover. In 1989, in response to government’s encouragement to develop the ornamental, floriculture and horticulture industry, many members of the Orchid Society of Davao, Inc. (OSDI) shifted to orchid growing as a business venture. This was fully endorsed by then President Corazon C. Aquino when she declared Davao City as the Orchid Center of the Philippines in 1992 through Proclamation No. 886.

During the incumbency of President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, several orchid genus and ornamental plant cultivars were named after her.  Dr. Romeo Gutierrez a well-known plant breeder, a three term president of Philippine Horticultural Society,  antique collector  , art collector and also a painter  bred Aglaonema Cory, a cultivar of the aglaonema that was named after former President Corazon Aquino. Its broad, dark green leaves consist of a herringbone pattern of grayish-silver,with yellow marks along the midrib. Like the sunburst, the yellow coloration of the young leaves becomes conspicuous through proper light conditions. It has white petioles and many suckers.

Aglaonema Corazon Aquino bred by Dr. Romeo Gutierrez
Aglaonema Corazon Aquino bred by Dr. Romeo Gutierrez

This  Aglaonema won the ” Best Ornamental Plant in Show” of the Philippine Horticultural Society show held on February 10 to 17, 1990 at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation .  Coincidentally the plaque was donated by house majority floor leader Mr. and Mrs. Francisco Sumulong  a relative of Mrs. Aquino maternal side.

Photo Courtesy of Singapore Botanic Gardens by: Mr. Whang Lay Keng – Head Living Collection

On the occasion of her state visit and the ASEAN head of state meeting in the island state of Singapore on August  26 , 1986 the Singapore Botanic Garden named Dendrobium Corazon Aquino (Parentage:  Dendrobium Tien Soeharto x Dendrobium Noor Aishah) an orchid hybrid after the incumbent leader.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society of London this orchid was registered on January 1, 1986 in their list.  SGB institute had the tradition of breeding and naming new orchid cultivars after famous world leaders, politicians, and celebrities.

On numerous occasions she would be invited to come, as guest of honor during various orchid & garden shows held by different garden clubs from all over the country.  She was one of the  guest of honor on the 46th annual orchid and garden show of the Philippine Orchid Society held at the Makati SM Car Park  compound in  February 1992.

Several years later, Atty. Hernando Perez, one of her former cabinet secretaries, developed a new breed of orchid and named it after her. He thought it was just right to breed BLC. Benigno Aquino an inter-generic yellow colored orchid variety. The good quality traits of the orchid made it a desirable breeding parent material for developing new breeds of orchid.

The orchid hybrid took 5 years to grow, using cross-pollination methods. Its “mother and father” plants are a variety of yellow orchid named BLC. Benigno Aquino (pod parent) and the greenish BLC. Malvarosa Jade ( pollen parent).

The Blc Cory Aquino orchid (Brassolaeliocattleya Cory Aquino) with code name HC – 547 -, bred by former Justice Secretary Hernando B. Perez, is a graceful but sturdy plant with yellow and green varieties.

Because of the breeding traits of BLC. Malvarosa Jade, there are 2 color forms of  the BLC. Cory Aquino that can be found.  One is yellow and the other is greenish yellow. All forms are highly sought after by orchid and plant collectors worldwide.

63rd Mid-Year Orchid & Garden Show poster

The color yellow is widely associated with both Sen. Ninoy and Cory Aquino, since they used this color in clothes or campaign paraphernalia. In retirement, in fact, the former president took up painting, with flowers as her chosen still life subjects. Flowers were also one of former President Aquino’s favorite painting subjects finding the task a form of relaxation and a way of relieving stress. Having stepped down from office in 1992, Tita Cory, as she is fondly remembered, was quite content at becoming an ordinary citizen once again, but remained active in social work, and in wielding her undiminished moral authority whenever the democratic institutions she helped restore came under threat.

Unlike most orchids that need to be propped up, the Blc Cory Aquino stands erect and proud, much like the ideologies of the late former president.

According to Nani Perez, “This orchid hybrid symbolizes strength of her character because it is a sturdy plant. Pirmeng naka-tindig yun eh. Pirmeng proud.” It is also feminine-looking but with a strong bearing. Its petals are light yellow which means it is long-lasting,” he added.

In the last quarter of 2004, Perez said he was able to give her a pot of his best Blc. Cory Aquino and the plant’s registry certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society, a London-based international group that registers orchid hybrids.

Atty. Perez was also featured in the “orchid episode” of “ Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho” aired last February 23, 2008 on GMA channel 7. The episode featured him as an orchid and a plant breeder since 1974 and among the orchid hybrids featured in the episode was the BLC. Cory Aquino, Blc. Ninoy Aquino among others. A portion of the episode was uploaded in the KMJS website.

In a recent television guest interview on ABS-CBN channel 2- top rated morning show  “ Umagang Kay Ganda” last August 4, 2009 with Ms. Donita Rose, He was also able to present the original Royal Horticultural Society certificate of orchid registration with frame and potted flowering orchid to the late president, this gesture made her very happy.

In the Flora Filipina Expo 2006 held from February 24 to March 5,2006  jointly organized by the Philippine Orchid Society (POS) and Philippine Horticultural Society (PHS) within the ruins of San Ignacio in Intramuros.  In this international event,  the winning orchid ( BLC. Cory Aquino) brought attention of the orchid breeders around the world that the Philippines had orchid hybidizers like Mr. Perez which breeds award winning orchids.

In the 61st Mid-Year Orchid and Garden Show held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10, 2007, the same orchid cultivar’s won the  “Best Philippine Hybrid” award one of the highest recognition that a breeder can get. – Perez said Aquino sent him a text message congratulating him for the “prize-winning orchid.” He still keeps the text message on his phone to this day.

Breeders from Japan, Thailand , United Kingdom, USA  and local orchid collectors were very eager to have a division or sample of this award winning orchid hybrid.

Cory Aquino’s big role, not only for the restoration of the democracy in the Philippines, but also for the development of the local horticulture industry, cannot be underestimated. With the whole world paying homage to the former president, this is a small gratitude that any horticulturist or plant lover from all over the world can give.

2 thoughts on “President Corazon Aquino tribute

  1. i was able to attend one of the orchid show at the quezon memorial circle… it was a joy to see atty hernani perez talk so passionately about his orchids and i was able to get an orchid named after CORY and NINOY AQUINO… and after several months…i was successful in having one bloom to my delight…

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