MANILA, December 19, 2003 (STAR) SUCCULENTOPHILE By Kevin G. Belmonte - The Cactus & Succulent Societyís 25th Anniversary Garden Show officially opened with a big bang last week. Quezon City Mayor Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. and Former First Lady Amelita "Ming" Ramos, guests of honor, cut the ceremonial ribbon. The opening was well-attended, not just by members of the Society but by numerous other horticulture lovers as well.

As I arrived at the event, the first thing I saw was Tita Ming buying up the exotic orchids at one of the commercial booths. As most of us probably know, Tita Ming is a mega plant aficionado with a beautiful orchid collection and garden. I then did a quick tour of the entire show. First, I visited a number of the commercial booths where horticultural and other gift items are available. Some beautiful cacti and succulents are on sale, not just from society members but from those great growers based in Benguet. Their plants are clean, well-spined and some are even flowering!

Then there are sellers of other exotics, from orchids, Philippine ferns, bromeliads, other ornamentals, dish gardens, fountain systems, horticulture supplies and even birds. Of course, at this time of the year, one looks for the Christmas poinsettias, and these are available in abundance at the show. I purchased a few myself.

After surveying the commercial booths, I visited the makeshift covered greenhouse where the cactus and succulent landscaped exhibits and competition are being held. Some of our members were up all night and early morning designing, landscaping and finishing the exhibit. I must say, they did a fine job indeed. There are some really nice plants on display here. I entered a few plants myself for the competition, and was pleased to see that some of my entries had winning ribbons attached to them. More on the competition results in my next column, where I can give the winning entries the attention they deserve.

The formal program started shortly thereafter. Mayor Belmonte and Former First Lady Ming Ramos both gave inspirational talks. This is not the first horticultural event sponsored by the Mayor at the Orchidarium Park. A few months ago, the Philippine Orchid Society also held their event here. The Mayor and his team have transformed these gardens by the Quezon City Hall into a wonderful area featuring a man-made lagoon, and a perfect venue for showcasing events such as ours. Tita Ming joked that with all the horticultural events he has guested at, maybe the Mayor would become an ardent plant lover sooner or later. Iím betting on "later" myself. I think the Mayor is perfectly happy as a numismatist. His coins and paper money keep him plenty satisfied and preoccupied.

By now, you must be wondering why I entitled this piece "The Sights and SoundsÖ" So far, Iíve only talked about the sights. Well, as an intermission number, we had Ray Sison, flutist for the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, and Armando Derecho, guitarist, perform some really nice classics and Filipino favorites. Ray has a new CD out entitled "Paskong Pilipino," together with Lionel Valdellon. It is a wonderful CD to add to your collection. Armando, by the way, makes his own guitars!

I must commend our president, Mely Ileto Sibayan, and the other members of our society who organized and executed this event. It was very meticulously planned and the show was well-received by the public. Congratulations to you on the overall success of the show.

For those who havenít been to the show yet, you can still make it! The garden show runs until Monday, December 15, at the Lagoon Island, of Orchidarium Park, Quezon City Hall complex corner Elliptical Road and East Avenue, QC. And admission is free. Maybe youíll find that special Christmas gift for your loved ones. There are also daily 3 p.m. lectures on various horticultural tricks of the trade. Hope you all can make it.

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E-mail the author at succulentophile@

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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