Tales of Caladium in the Philippines

Caladium is a genus of  highly ornamental  plant variety which belongs to Araceae. It is closely related to Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosoma which originates from Central and South America.

There were at least 1,000 known cultivar hybrids and every year additional plants are named by different plant breeders from all over the world.

IMAGECaladium planted in a terracotta pot- some people believed that it brings good luck 


Caladium or Corazon de Maria growing in a pocket garden in Quezon City

Caladium in the Philippines

Caladiums were locally called under different names Gabi-Gabi, Gabi-Gabihan, Corazon de Maria, Puso ni Maria, Corazon de Amor, Puso-Pusoan, Heart of Jesus, Angel Wings or Elephant Ear.


Caladium or Puso ni Maria grown in a pocket garden

Corazon de Amor / Corazon de Maria/ Gabi-Gabihan/ Puso-Pusoan or Caladiums was introduced from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila during the later part of the galleon trade. Some of the early cultivars escaped cultivation, grew in almost semi-wild state in coconut plantations, humid places, vacant lot, cemeteries, near streams and creeks.


old variety of Corazon de Maria, Puso ni Maria or Caladium “Keladi Red Star” growing in almost unattended state in a vacant lot in Quezon City

Caladiums quickly became popular foliage plants for shady or semi-shaded gardens. Each leaf seems to be painted with striking combinations of green, white, pink, red, orange and its color markings are given much importance by collectors.

Economic Importance

Corazon de Maria/ Corazon de Amor/ Puso ni Maria/ Caladium are widely used for potted plants, landscaping purposes and as indoor plant. In the Bicol region, Caladium rhizomes, leaves and stems are sometimes eaten during times famine and calamities were food is scare. Some Bicolanos tend to boil the rhizomes to remove the itchy calcium oxalate crystals. Slowly cooking the rhizomes, leaves and stems in a combination of coconut milk ( gata), chopped chilies, small shrimp or bagoong alamang, similar to ginataang laing.

Some growers believe that these plants bring good luck and invites good chi among growers. Countless of local growers would swear that it bought them some luck.

Magaan ang dating ng pera sa aming negosyo noong nagtanim kami niyan malapit sa aming bahay“.

Smooth transaction and money came fast in our business, when we planted Caladiums near the entrance of our house. This was according to Mrs. Piling Marquez of Caloocan City.

Costa Farm is one of the bigger ornamental plants which grew Caladium in big numbers. In the southern parts of the United States and sub-tropical areas, They are sometimes grown in greenhouses or as an indoor plants. K. van Bourgondien Tropical Plants from Netherlands also specializes in selling different varieties.

Caladium plant craze became trendy in the country in several stages from late 1949 to 1950, early 1960’s, mid-1970’s, circa 1987 to 1988, short run in the mid-1990’s, 2009 to 2010, between 2015 to 2018. With newer varieties and colorful hybrids from other countries. There were some nice caladium plants exhibited at the Hortikultura Extravaganza 2016 which won top prizes.

Some local horticulturists like Mr. Lebon Ong, Sir Boyet Ganigan imported some Caladium varieties from foreign nurseries. Well- known farms and backyard growers  from the towns of Guiguinto, Tabang within Bulacan province. Calamba, Bay, Los Baños, Laguna province. Mr. Mac Pagsolingan of Pangasinan had been growing and selling caladium for more than 10 years, Arids and Aroids and Mr. Carlo Cabunilla of Cebu are just few of the local growers.

IMAGECaladium Keladi Red Star- old variety which is common in many areas of the country

angeliicloset from Batangas province is an online seller which sells Caladium cultivar varieties ranges from Php 100 to Php 250 per uprooted plant. She had about a dozen or so varieties.

IMAGEphoto courtesy of pixabay user : sarangib-37542

In a recent FB post from MM, a new site selling old variety of Corazon de Amor for Php 2,500 raised some eyebrows among netizens, backyard gardeners and farm owners! This had brought some attention to the lowly and neglected old cultivar variety of the Corazon de Amor.

Care and Fertilization

The most important factors in caladium care are moisture and fertilization. Try to fertilize them with complete fertilizer will help strengthen the plants in order to produce adequate tubers for the following growing season. Caladiums need to be watered on a regular basis, especially during dry conditions.


photo courtesy of pixabay Gaimard

These plants thrive in moist, well-drained sandy soil, slightly acidic and are generally happier in partial shade. When you plant caladiums, you should plant them about 4 to 6 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.

Caladiums can be purchased as potted plants or dormant tubers. Their size depends on the variety. They are normally in active growth during the onset of the rainy season in the western part of the country and goes dormant during the dry season.

Caladium plants are not typically troubled by insects, but sometimes caladium plant pests  chew the leaves or cell sap.

Caterpillars and aphids can be problems. Your best defense against caladium plant pests is vigilance and constant monitoring.

IMAGEphoto courtesy of  pixabay -gildda-5239161

Caladium grow from tubers and the diseases of caladium plants are those that attack the tubers. Usually these diseases are caused by fungal pathogens, such as Rhizoctonia and Pythium species. Some caladium would require some shelter from monsoon rains and extra care in handling the tender rhizomes.

Bibliography and References:

Personal communications among backyard growers and farm owners.

Special mention to Mrs. Piling Marquez of Caloocan City, Mr. Mac Pagsolingan of Pagsolingan Garden.

Funk, V. A., P. E. Berry, S. Alexander, T. H. Hollowell & C. L. Kelloff. 2007. Checklist of the Plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 55: 1–584

Madulid, Domingo; Winner, National Book Award, Science, 1995. Revised Edition, 2000 with 388 pages. Araceae pages 84 to 85, Bookmark, Makati, A Pictorial Cyclopedia of Philippine Ornamental Plants.

Steiner, Mona Lisa, PHD;Care, M &L Licudine Enterprises, First Edition 1952, Second Edition 1960, Third Edition 1986, Atlag, Malolos , Bulacan. Gabi Family page 144, Philippine Ornamental Plants And Their Care.


BAHAY BUFFET Exciting Farm Tour and Buffet Meal at MOCA Farm

Barangay Castillo ,Padre Garcia , Batangas province- Philippines

MOCA Farm buffet meal

BAHAY BUFFET  is a new out of the box concept  offering buffet meals .The word bahay ( house )  is capitalized to mean: Buffet At Home is Always Yummy. This new venture aims to introduce consumers to up-and-coming hole in the wall eateries, small farms, family style -resort , micro-entrepreneurs and other stake holders in the food industry.

opuntia cactus with minimal spines

We met at around past 8:00am at Hotel Intercontinental , Makati city and traveled more than 2 hours to MOCA Farm in Padre Garcia, Batangas province. We arrived past 11:30am .

The town of Padre Garcia is known for their several farms which are family owned , while some are owned by large and multi-national companies.

zinnias in bloom

We were treated with some late morning breakfast meal and (Kapeng barako/ baraco ) Batangas style brew which used Liberica coffee beans as the main ingredient.

Creamy Kalabasa Soup with Malunggay Flakes

Creamy Kalabasa Soup with Malunggay Flakes, MoCa Farm Seasonal Garden Salad ( which consists of (  alugbati leaves , fresh pineapple , katuray/ katurai -Sesbania grandiflora  and blue tertanea flowers  ) Clitoria ternatea. 

Basella rubra  is known as Malabar spinach, Indian spinach , Vine spinach  Alugbati ( Bisaya ) Grana ( Tagalog ) Arogbati / Arugbati ( Bicol )

Zesty Santol with Pork in Coconut Milk and Chillies \

  Cotton fruit or more popularly known as Santol  Sandoricum koetjape  ) in the Philippines. It is a seasonal fruit which ripen around April, May and June depending on the locality.

I have tasted similar santol recipes when we went to Quezon ( less spicy ) , Laguna ( less spicy ) and Bicol region.

There is a souvenir store where one can buy fresh produce and preserve chilli oil

The owner is from Bicol region ( Albay province )  Her recipe is authentic and very similar to Bicol express ( with the use of santol pulp, siling pansigang , pork  topped with finger chillies) . While the one that i have tasted in Quezon  and Laguna uses santol pulp , little ground pork / shredded fish ( tilapia ) and grounded black pepper with little or no chillies. It is a good way to use santol for cooking , since whenever there is an over supply of santol  fruit, prices tend to goes down and there are a lot of fruits that are gone to waste.

group photo Ms. Maria  Louisen Manuel, KM Sevilla, Edong Reyes and kuya Dodong-Edong’s driver, and Mr. Roman B. Mawis Jr. and Mrs. Dawn Bolus Mawis

Native Suckling Pig Lechon, Pinaputukang Tilapia  (stuffed with finely chopped onion , tomatoes)  wrapped in Galangal leaves, and Sapin Sapin Rice ( Tri-colored Rice )

Clitoria ternatea

Clitoria ternatea, common names including butterfly pea, blue pea,blue ternatea , Cordofan pea . ) This is popular among Southeast Asian countries as ornamental plant and it is being used as coloring for foods, juice , salads, and had been known for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic and herbal remedies.

sapin-sapin or tri-colored rice

The tri-colored rice was made  from ordinary rice,  extract from luyang dilaw and blue colored rice extract  from blue ternatea

Hubad na Lumpiang Saging

This is a different style of lumpia /lunpia – Unlike others, this is presented using saba banana cooked in syrup and the wrapper is toasted / fried

Ms. Gigi Morris with her famed Santol Juice and Bignay Cider

The host for this month’s buffet meal and farm tour is MOCA FARM , a 1 hectare  family owned and managed farm which used to be an Indian mango orchard before Ms. Gigi Morris slowly converted the farm into what we see today. The farm is brightly decorated with sunflower tablecloth reflecting the sunny personality by the gracious host.

The farm is very quaint and had a charming atmosphere which can accommodate up to 50 person at a given time. ( appointment must be made weeks in advance)

The area is now slowly recovering from the onslaught of Typhoon Rammasun ( Bagyong Glenda) which struck the Southern Luzon provinces  only last year 2014. Trees that were toppled down during the typhoon were carefully festooned with flowering plants or designed into wooden chairs.

Tamales with sunflower syrup

 We were served with a late breakfast meal – Tamales ( Padre Garcia version ) with dried coconut latik and syrup made from sunflower seeds !  I have tasted different Tamales from different provinces  and this tamales had no stuffing like meat , shrimps and eggs .  It is made from sticky rice grounded  ( galapong ) and wrapped in banana leaves.

tamales wrapped in banana leaves

This is a different style and squarish .The coconut latik and syrup made from sunflower seeds made it quite different . This native delicacy had gradually evolved thru centuries from the original Tamales from Mexico.

There were also different kinds of coffee beans – Liberica ( bigger seed granules) –Excelsa , Robusta

Geodorum densiflorum

Geodorum densifolium is a common terrestrial orchid found in many areas of the country. I was able to spot a living orchid with seed capsules  I told the owner about the status so that they will not pull them off the growing area.

native pigs

The farm had native chickens, native pigs, Chinese silkie chickens, rabbits , vegetables , fruits and large Indian mangoes.

Chinese silkie chickens

After the hearty meal and a short farm tour. We left the farm around past 3:00PM on our way to the next venue place. I would definitely invite friends and tourists to the event hosted by Bahay Buffet and MOCA Farm .

BAHAY BUFFET facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bahaybuffet

MOCA Farm: http://www.mocafarm.com/

MOCA Farm Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MoCa-Farm/144927215529014

Jorge Pineda postcards from Luxemburg and Mexico

Quezon City – Philippines

I started to collect postcards since grade one. It started when our social studies teacher would require them as a semester project which would require students to pass a  couple of scenic spots , national heroes or folk dances. We would troop to the nearest bookstores and buy the cheap postcards.  Paste them in a  white bond paper size with all sort of captions and art papers to highlight a particular scenic spots , national heroes or folk dances.  We would write the captions  in colored pentel pens!

I would buy 1 or 2 more postcards as additional for my personal collection, I would later know that some of my aunts and even my mom had some postcards hidden in some photo albums or containers somewhere in our house. Some of my personal collection were lost over the years ( some eaten by termites, some were given away to friends and relatives )  I would only buy postcards intermittently . over the course of several years until i reached high school and college.

Luxemburg ( top ) Mexico ( bottom)

In a local bourse/ auction chance upon a 2 postcards on sale about 2 years ago, With some inscription Jorge Pineda from Luxemburg and Mexico dated 1908 and 1909 respectively .

back portion of the postcards

Mr. Jorge Pineda is an artist which lived in Manila and based on personal accounts by deltiologists ( postcard collector ) and stamp collector – He seems to be a very prolific artist, stamp and even postcard collector.

He also drew cover illustrations for Renacimiento Filipino as well as ads, and designed sweepstakes tickets, postage stamps, and the prewar 20-peso bill showing the Mayon Volcano . He did illustrations for many books, such as Bajo los cocoteros (Under the Coconut Trees), by Claro M. Recto.


He was born (26 July 1879-12 Sept 1946) and  won the awards at the Universal Exposition in St Louis, Misouri, USA: bronze for Campesina (Farm Girl), showing a solidly drawn head of a rural lass, and honorable mention for Las buyeras (Women Preparing Betel Nut Chew) in 1904. As a painter, He is considered as a peer and contemporary of  Fernando Amorsolo but less prolific, being an occasional painter and he explored subjects outside those of the Amorsolo school. Among his most charming genre scenes are those depicting Filipino games like siklot and sungkaan.


CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Vol 4. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.

Cattleya skinneri

Senior Social Hall, University of the Philippines -Los Baños, Laguna

During  the horticulture show,   I have encountered a great specimen -sized flowering Cattleya skinneri or Guarianthe skinneri .   I bought several  potted clumps of this particular species way back in 2004 during the 58th annual orchid show in Quezon City . However during the great torrential rains of ” Ondoy ” in 2009.  Most of my Cattleya species and hybrids were lost due to fungal infections. It wipe -out almost 85 percent of my Cattleya collections. Now i still have to fully recover from the disastrous fungal infection and what was left were a few  old cattleya  hybrids that our neighbor gave to me years ago.

Cattleya skinneri was one of the focal point of this year’s  horticulture show in Laguna

Most of the serious Cattleya growers would grow  and collect Cattleya skinneri  which is also the national flower of Costa Rica . This does not provide satisfaction among growers but also a source of parent plant for hybridization .  Among the serious Cattleya orchid collectors in the country would include Dr. Hernando ” Nani ” Perez , Ms. Vangie B. Go, Mr. Antonio Padilla,  Mr. Jun Golamco , Mr. Micheal Espeso , Mr. Vicente Chin Jr.  , Mrs. Mable Chua , Ms. Mary Ann-Wu ,  Mr. Emilio Yap Jr. , Dr. Elenita S. Binay ,  Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. ,  However this is just a short list of those people who collects this orchid type , while i have seen a lot of small time  orchid hobbyists in the provinces which had grown cattleyas  in their backyard.

Cattleya skinneri or Guarianthe skinneri entered in the recent horticulture show in Laguna

It is creme de la creme of the people who grew orchids. Most of the cattleyas are still expensive in the Philippine market .  While local orchid farms would still prefer sourcing rare and new selection of BLC , LC , SLC , BC  type from Bangkok, Thailand, Taiwan , Malaysia , Florida and even in their home land in Central and South America . I have heard several stories of some pilots , seaman  and balikbayans which have also brought home some cattleya seedlings from the long sojourns from the  Americas whenever they came home.

Unlike in the past decades, cattleya growing in the city is going to be difficult , with most people lacking space and time. In my case , our shrinking space in our garden and fungal infection which almost totally wiped- out my cattleya collection still in my mind whenever i see those flowering orchids during orchid shows. How i wish those friends and relatives that visited our house had taken care of those cattleya orchids which i gave them as gift.


This delightful small-flowered Cattleya species always produces an abundance of bright rose-lavender  while there are pure white and blue type of flowers. In its native habitat of Central America . It is as much a part of this holiday for me as poinsettias during Christmas season  or the traditional everlasting daisies . Because it is so easy to grow and flower, C. skinneri is one of the most rewarding of nature’s spring-flowering orchids.

Cattleya skinneri is native to Central America, where it thrives in seasonal mountain forests from just above sea level to about 5,000 feet (2,500 meters ). Its growing range begins in southern Mexico and extends through Guatemala and Honduras into El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It is one of the most common orchids found in Costa Rica and is so popular there, it has been named Costa Rica’s national flower.

Cattleya skinneri being sold in the commercial section

In the Philippines, majority of this orchid species would flower during the months of February, March , April and early May depending on the province and climatic condition. A short drying period and a cool weather will initiate the blooming of this orchid species.

Origin of the Name:

Cattleya skinneri produces from five to 12 flowers on a spike and usually has more than one lead even on a small plant, so the result is a marvelous display of flowers.

Cattleya skinneri was one of the earlier of the Cattleya species discovered  in 1836 — just after Cattleya mossiae. It was described as a new species in 1837 by the English botanist James Bateman in his book The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala (Tab XIII). Although Bateman had never been to Mexico and Guatemala, He was the world authority at the time on the orchids of these countries because of a man named Sir George Ure Skinner, who ran a trading company in Guatemala.

When Bateman was still a student at the Natural History Museum at Manchester, England. He noticed specimens of birds and insects Skinner had sent to the museum. He wrote to Skinner asking if he would send him specimens of orchids, and Skinner responded enthusiastically, sending box after box of plants he collected in the local countryside. At times, so many plants arrived that the commercial orchid company James Veitch eventually set aside a whole greenhouse exclusively for Skinner’s Central American orchids, and every private collection in Europe soon had their collection.

Cattleya X guatemalensis from personal collection of Ms. Vangie Go

There are a lot of color variation of the species and natural hybrids ,  Most sought after is Cattleya X guatemalensis  a natural hybrid between Cattleya skinneri and Cattleya aurantiaca / Guarianthe  aurantiaca .   The name was transferred to Guarianthe based on  phylogenetic studies of nuclear in DNA  studies in 2000 and 2003.

 different yellow variation of   – Cattleya aurantiaca or Guarianthe aurantiaca

Locally, I have seen some Cattleya X guatemalensis  orchids from the collection of Mrs. Vangie Go ,  Mr. Jun Golamco and Dr. Hernando Perez . However,  I still have to obtain one for my own collection. I used to  have the two color forms of Cattleya aurantiaca “yellow” and “orange” variety ,  sadly they were also wiped-out during the ” Ondoy ” Typhoon Kestsana onslaught in 2009.

array of Cattleya aurantiaca ” yellow ” and ” orange ” varieties

Still wanting to have another plant,  I haggle with my  “suki ”  loyal seller from Malvarosa orchids . I had to choose some non-flowering Cattleya skinnerii for my collection since there is a big price difference from the non-flowering cattleya and flowering ones. This is some sort of a highlight from visiting a garden show , having to part with a new set of orchids to be added in my collection or otherwise re-acquiring  a new collection.

References :




Boosey, Jane : 300 orchids : series and varieties in cultivation ISBN -13:978-1-554407-296-5 ( 2007)

Dressler and Higgins: “Guarianthe, a Generic Name for the “Cattleya” skinneri Complex” Lankesteriana 7(2003)37—38

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