Now is a good time to look at the trees at the Lahug campus of the University of the Philippines Cebu.
A tree that glows with purple bouquets, whose name I still do not know, dabs soil and grass with purple spots.
The tambis trees near the central edifice heave with succulent, pink fruits. Some have fallen to the pavement.
Hard to believe almost two decades had passed since a friend from the school’s blue party and I climbed these branches.
The elegant ylang-ylang has strewn the lawn with fragrant flowers, yellow with petals like tendrils.
I pause whenever I pass by. I pick up some flowers. There are always more after a thunderstorm, driven or shaken down by wind, by rain.
I give a flower to each student I know whom I meet as I move on. Offers good while supply lasts. The essence of this flower makes Chanel No. 5.
Fire trees close to the water tank punctuate these hot, humid days with blazing orange blooms.
We called the yard around and about “Waterfront,” playing with the name of a hotel and the presence of the tank.
How young are these trees? The school entered its hundredth year on the third of May. The trees partake of our memories, so Noel Cabangon sang.
A fine arts student would behold the orange frenzy from the corridor to their studios. Do the fire trees taunt or inspire? The student who paints decides.
An acacia stands near one of the gates. The leaves droop like prayerfully clasped hands. A frog hides in the midnight between her roots.
Perhaps the tree pleads for man or heaven to take care of her young. She had scattered seeds from her fluffy, pink needle flowers on the fertile ground.
They have drunk the summer rain, germinated and sprouted as wildings in patches of earth near the students’ dormitory.
The crickets chirp. They take me halfway across the world, where May is spring, not summer; where a brother enjoys summer cricket song in July.
Clouds are silvery-gold and orange against the teal evening twilight. Branches and trees are silhouettes against the half-light.
Some boughs stir in the tentative wind or with the darting of a winged creature. Tonight, a bird. A bat on other nights.
In the corner of a covered walk flourishes a frangipani tree. Kalachuchi is her name in the local tongue. Beneath it, students years ago set up a fake mini graveyard.
All knowledge shall pass, like kalachuchi flowers fallen face down from the tree. But first, in these mansions of the mind, students must pass.
I wonder who planted these trees. I am grateful for what he or she did.
I bet that man or woman did not need to be an environment minister to give these parts a lot of lungs.