Selling of flowers continues despite pandemic
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Flowers are the natural beauties of the world, a subject of all art forms from paintings to poems. It is also the source of income for over 500 vendors and establishments in Cebu City, especially during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Even though the cemeteries are closed from October 29 to November 3, 2020, flower vendors are taking chances of selling at the Freedom Park even for a small profit.
Although their peak season was cancelled due to the temporary closure, they have no other choice but to continue selling flowers for the Undas Season despite the lack of customers because they need to survive the financial challenges brought about by the pandemic.
One of these vendors is Mila Estenso, or Miss Mila, a 55-year-old from Barangay Bonbon. She has been selling flowers at the Freedom Park since she was 18-years-old.
Miss Mila said that even if the year was difficult, she would not stop selling flowers because these are the only things that bring joy to her life.
“Sa una, ako ang nagtabang sa akong unom ka mga igsuon. Ika lima man ko sa pito. Namaligya lang gyod kog buwak para makatabang-tabang ko nila,” said Miss Mila.
(Before, I used to help my six siblings. I am the fifth of seven siblings. I sold flowers to help them.)
She set up a stall at the Freedom Park in the late 1980s, which paved the way for other people to work for her, giving light to a blooming flower shop business.
Miss Mila’s love for flowers became the inspiration of her younger assistant, Dexter Flores Dayundon, a 45-year-old, flower arranger for Miss Mila’s flower shop.
Dexter began his flower arranging career in 2004. He decorates small to medium baskets, an art that used to take him hours but now only take ten minutes to complete.
“Sayon ra man gyod ang pag arrange ug flowers kay gwapa naman daan ang bulak. Mas gipagwapa lang nimo siya sa imong pag arrange,” said Dexter.
(Arranging flowers is easy because flowers are already beautiful in itself. You simply make them more beautiful by arranging them.)
Dexter said that this year is the worst year the shop has experienced, but he continued to arrange flowers for possible customers.
He said that visiting the dead and bringing them flowers is a tradition deeply imbedded in the Filipino culture, making it difficult for everyone to skip the tradition this year.
But Mila’s flower shop not only sells flowers for the dead. Mila’s also sells flowers for other occasions.
Miss Mila is appealing to the public to buy more fresh flowers for their homes, offices, and other places to help vendors like her survive through the recession.
The flowers don’t have to be only for the dead as their beauty is a mirror of life as well.
“Ang bulak makanindot sa tanan, sa kinabuhi man o kamatayon,” she said.
(Flowers make everything beautiful, in life or in death.)
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