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Everlasting-studded jeepney steals show at flower fest

21 March 2017

ConGen Bernie Catalla poses with the everlasting-covered jeepney.


By Vir B. Lumicao

A jeepney replica made of 60 kilos of everlasting, a Benguet woman’s costume and a poster and video exhibit of Baguio City’s “Panangbenga” (Flower) festival, combined to win for the Philippine booth a special award at the Hong Kong Flower Show 2017.

It may be a simple, low-budget display compared with many elegantly adorned booths, but it won the “Special Award for Design Excellence” for its concept.

The award made highly significant the Consulate’s maiden participation in the 10-day annual festival that began on March 10.

For the past 15 years, the Knights of Rizal had represented the country in the spring spectacle. This year, it still has a spacious booth at its old site on the left side of the Sugar Street entrance to the park, and was bestowed a Special Award for Unique Feature (landscape display).

This year’s theme is “Blossoms of Love”, as the flower show celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said in the opening ceremony.
“…The splashes of spring colors present a picture of prosperity and splendor, a fitting reminder of the achievements made over the past two decades,” he said.

Consul General Bernardita Catalla and her counterparts from Indonesia, Pakistan and the Netherlands led the guests of honor in the launching ceremony highlighted by Chinese dance and music.

After the short program, Catalla and the other dignitaries led by Lau and Leisure and Cultural Services Director Michelle Li toured the various booths, stopping last at the Philippine booth.

Catalla told Lau and Li that the jeepney was a very common mode of transport in the Philippines and the flowers that bedecked it were grown in the northern art of the country and shipped fresh to Hong Kong for the event.

Hundreds of curious visitors were awe-struck as they inspected, posed and took photos of the centerpiece of the Philippines’ booth.

“Ngayon lang kami sumali, bongga ano?” Consul General Bernardita Catalla said proudly of the Consulate’s booth.

Catalla said the winning design was a group idea that she and her staff brainstormed, while the jeepney replica was designed and executed by the Association of Filipino Builders in Hong Kong to achieve the right dimensions.

The most meticulous part of the five-day preparation was gluing each of the yellow and magenta everlasting crowns painstakingly onto the wood and plywood replica.

“We ordered 60 kilos of everlasting from Baguio and, as the flowers were fresh, we dried them in the sun then sorted them by color,” Catalla said.

It took five days of work from March 3 to 7 for Catalla and 10 consular staff to turn the 16-sq-meter booth into a green garden with a Bermuda grass lawn, a red pebble path lined with white stones, and pots of yellow and red philodendrons to brighten the inner corner.

“Kami-kami lang, wala kaming pera ng pambayad ng labor,” said the consul general.

“Hanggang pasado alas-nuwebe sila nagtrabaho noong last day, binigyan kami hanggang March 7 to put up everything,” she said.

Aside from the huge variety of blooms, the flower show features a “Blossoms of Love” light and sound show, a seminar on greening, a photo competition, a guided tour provided by the main sponsor Jockey Club and various cultural presentations on specific days.

Victoria Park will see a cultural extravaganza such as a band concert, catwalk, marching band performances, and other musical and dance performances and culinary exhibitions on March 18 and 19, before the flower show ends Sunday evening.


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