Bonsai show at SM North EDSA sky garden

SM City North EDSA

Philippine Bonsai Society Incorporated in cooperation with SM City North EDSA mall in  Quezon City  presents the  national bonsai exhibition and competition  from  May 6 to 30, 2011 at the  SM sky garden.

SM Sky Garden was inaugurated last 2009 and is continuously being used as an art exhibition area and as a venue for live plant exhibition.  the garden has  an elevated curvilinear park with a 400-meter canopied walkway cutting across manicured lawns, ponds,trees about 35 retail shops ranging from t-shirt store, ice cream house, international and local restaurants which lined the greenery. SM City North Edsa, which now has a gross lease-able area of 445,000 square meters including the Sky Garden and SM Annex redevelopment.

tarpaulin poster of the event

There is also a gallery where bonsai trees are exhibited and bonsai critique Professor Amy Liang will share her vast knowledge of bonsai culture and the art of making bonsai. There were at  least 40 bonsai were exhibited at the venue , which were also judged by Professor Amy Liang along  with bonsai masters Mr. Chew Yu Xian and Mr. Kuo An Li from Taiwan .

Mr.Roberto ‚ÄúBobby‚ÄĚ P. Gopiao( President of Philippine Bonsai Society) , Mrs. Fely Gupit, Architect Patricia ” Wendy” Fernando- Regalado ( President of Philippine Horticulture Society) and representatives of SM North EDSA Mall , members and VIPs grace the opening and¬† ribbon cutting ceremonies

Roberto ‚ÄúBobby‚ÄĚ P. Gopiao is a versatile designer and bonsai enthusiast whose love for plants started in an early childhood. He was exposed to nature‚Äôs beauty and bounty in the home farms of his maternal grandparents who hail from Angeles City and Mexico, Pampanga. The varied plant collection of his mother, Corazon Panlilio-Gopiao also contributed to Bobby‚Äôs interest in horticulture and gardening.

Bobby has been president of the Philippine Bonsai Society since 2003, where he provides leadership to a growing number of bonsai hobbyists and connoisseurs. Aside from winning numerous Best in Show awards locally, he has the unique distinction of winning the Grand Prize and Saburo Kato Award from Nippon Bonsai Club in 2006. He is the only Filipino invited to judge the prestigious First BCI Bonsai Photo Competition sponsored by Bonsai Club International in 2010. He is also the Non-Taiwanese to be invited as judge to the Hua Fong International Bonsai exhibition in Taiwan.

Bonsai  are traditionally an artistic form of horticulture from Japan and China . The concept is to create miniature trees in trays or pots using aesthetic techniques that highlight the tree or shrub’s beauty. Usually, the trees used for bonsai are ficus, kalyos, orange jasmin , bantigue, podocorpus,  lantana,  kamagong, camachile, mulawin aso, mulawin daga,  some unconventional ones are ixora ( santan/ tangpupo ) , hibiscus, tamarind , bougainvillea and even guava can be used as materials for making bonsai.

Bougainvillea bonsai


Although the word ‚ÄėBon-sai‚Äô is Japanese, the art it describes originated in the Chinese empire.¬† By the year 700 AD the Chinese had started the art of ‚Äėpun-sai‚Äô using special techniques to grow dwarf trees in containers.¬† Originally only the elite of the society practiced pun-tsai with native-collected specimens and the trees where spread throughout China as luxurious gifts. During the Kamakura period, the period in which Japan adopted most of China‚Äôs cultural trademarks, the art of growing trees in containers was introduced into Japan. The Japanese developed Bonsai along certain lines due to the influence of Zen Buddhism.

 Podocarpus / Bhuddist Pine 

Over the centuries, different regional styles would be developed throughout the large country with its many varied landscapes; earthenware and ceramic containers would replace the porcelain ones displayed on wooden stands; and attempts would be made to shape the trees with bamboo frameworks or brass wire or lead strips.¬† Many poets and writers each made at least one description of tree and/or mountainous miniature landscapes, and many painters included a dwarfed potted tree as a symbol of a cultivated man’s lifestyle.¬† After the 16th century these were called pun tsai or ‚Äútray planting.‚Ä̬† The term pun ching (“tray landscape,” now called¬† Penjing¬†) didn’t actually come into usage until the 17th century.


Some historical records would also reveal that the art of bonsai were introduced to the country even before the arrival of the Spaniards  in the 16th century . In 1604, there was a description in Spanish of how Chinese immigrants in the tropical islands of the Philippines were growing small ficus trees onto hand-sized pieces of coral.

In the Philippines , bonsai was later known as Bansoy. Which is is taken from two Filipino word Bansot ( small/ miniature¬† ) and Kahoy ( tree) . Which literally called ” bansot na halamang kahoy” or ” makahoy ” .

yellow -flowering ixora or santan used as a bonsai material

replica of  Paoay Church in Ilocos serves as a backdrop for the bonsai exhibit

Judging System

This year, Philippine Bonsai Society has adopted the Taiwan system of judging which  is divided into two categories, bantigue and non-bantigue, to encourage more entries . So  for every 15  bonsai trees there is a gold prize, two silvers and three bronzes.  About 30 to 40 percent of the entries can win a prize .  So everybody is happy , this was according to the president of PBS.

Prof. Chew Yu Xian and Prof. Kuo An Li – Taiwanese international bonsai masters

Philippine Bonsai Techniques

According to the Taiwanese judges ,” Filipino bonsai hobyists had gradually evolve . The people¬† are fine-tuning their aesthetics. Tree and the pot create one harmonious relationship¬†, where in height , shape, color , texture and neatly glazed container pots complement each other. In the past, they merely cultivated a dwarf tree in a pot without much thought. Today, they understand the importance of the pot size, shape and depth in relation to the tree.”

Mr.Pablo Dichitan award winning bonsai

Bonsai Towns

There are towns in the Philippines that thrive in bonsai growing and collecting like San Mateo , Baras, Angono  in  Rizal province, Bamban and Gerona in Tarlac had its own bonsai association , Guiguinto ,Tabang , San Miguel , Baliuag in  Bulacan , Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija,  Sagay City in Negros Occidental , Mt. Apo in Davao, Cebu , La Union and Pangasinan.


Mr. David and Mrs. Belinda Lim pose for a souvenir shoot at their  first prize winning bonsai entry


While there are still people who collects bonsai in the wild,  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR ) with the enactment of Wildlife Act strictly prohibits the collections, sale, trade of bonsai taken in the wild.

According to one of the board of director of PBS, the National Bonsai Association of Taiwan had developed a curriculum for Mariano Marcos University which can properly train future bonsai artist or students.  With proper guidance and growing technique, it is believed that in the near future , Filipino bonsai hobbyists would not take bonsai from the wilderness,  Which like in Taiwan and other Asian countries  bonsai trees are scientifically propagated.

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