More visitors troop to Sirao
With the flowers now in full bloom, more local and foreign tourists are traveling to the mountain barangay of Sirao in Cebu City to take “selfie” with celosia flowers, locally known as the burlas, which are abundant in Sirao Flower Garden, otherwise known as the “Little Amsterdam of Cebu,” which is owned managed by Maria Elena Sy Chua.
The garden is becoming more attractive and visitors are greeted with vines that climb up the metal arcs just above the pathway leading to the heart of the garden featuring some wooden benches and statues of women installed among the flowers.
The hillside windmill, a water fountain and a little wooden house are an added offerings for tourists who want to capture a perfect scenery for their “selfie.”
The blooms have created patches of yellow and red at the front view of the house of garden caretaker Severino Ople Jr. located just a few meters from the souvenir shop and food stalls.
Just like any other farm in the mountain barangay, the celosias are meant to be cut and bundled, for pick-up by suppliers on board ten-wheeler trucks from other regions, in time for the All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
But not until last year, when Chua decided not to harvest the flowers after many visitors came in droves to take a “selfie” with its blooms.
“Sa una mingaw kaayo mi diri. Pero karon daghan na kaayong tawo magpa-picture. Nangalipay ra pod mi kay nakahatag og trabaho sa amoa (Before, business was at a standstill. But now many people are coming to take pictures. We are very happy because this will provide us job),” garden caretaker Severino Ople Jr. told Cebu Daily News.
The farm that started from barely 20 flower beds featuring the yellow and red blooms of the celosia last year, has now expanded adding more beds.
“Nagsugod mig tanom last July 1. Amo-ang gitanom by batches aron inig ka lawos sa uban naay mopuli (We started to plant last July. We planted it in batches so that when others wilted, the sprouting ones would replace),” said Ople.
He explained that celosia can fully grow at the maximum of four months, depending on the moisture of the soil and the weather, while the celosia bloom can last up to a month.
The entrance to the garden has increased to P50 from P20 last year.
Ople said they are also currently constructing some cottages for visitors.
As Cebu Daily News visited the garden yesterday, plenty of cars and motorcycles-for-hire parked at the roadside.
Farmers also installed makeshift stalls along the road to sell their produce such as vegetables, fruits, flowers and boiled corn.
“Sukad daghan na kaayong manaka diri sa Sirao, nagsugod namig baligya sa among mga uma. Naay saging, usahay kalbasa, tabang tabang lang gud sa gastohan kay di biya pirmi naay kwarta sa uma,” said 39-year-old Isagani Archival.
Archival said he could earn around P700 to P1,000 from selling, which is a big help in sending their three children to school.
Twenty-seven year old security guard Ronald Rivera also earned a living from driving a motorcycle-for-hire after his shift.
For every passenger, he charges P450 from JY to the flower farm and back, including the waiting time.
The Sirao Flower Garden’s rise to fame also gave birth to another Celosia Garden, the Sirao Pictorial Garden Camping Site owned by Ayala Heights chief security guard Roger Bontuyan right beside Chua’s garden.
“Pagkahibaw namo nga pwede man diay makakwarta sa pa-picture sa buwak among gisugdan og develop ang yuta. Nagtanom mi sugod og June 8,” said Bontuyan.
Unlike the first garden, Bontuyan charges P30 entrance fee to visitors. “Nindot na hinoon diri. Mas daghan, mas sadya. Ingon pa nila, murag ang Sirao nahimong syudad sa daghang manaka para sa burlas,” said Ople.
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