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Needles and pins

            With this Kung Flu, my only solace is to flee up into the mountains, since business has reopened in most of Bacolod City and the clean pure air that I enjoyed and the company of little birds, have quickly disappeared.

            So, when Punta Bulata Empress Royale Miren Zayco asked if I knew the way to the Guerrero Farms so that she could purchase fresh fir and Baguio pine trees for her Christmas decor, I easily agreed. 

            We took the fast deteriorating Airport Road with its falling and crooked traffic lights, dying or rather dead palm trees with equally scruffy plant boxes until the Concepcion Road. Thank God, tourists hardly arrive nowadays because when evening falls, this supposedly Tourist Highway is completely neglected light-wise and hazardously dangerous with all the parked sugarcane haulers without any hazard signs.

            Anyway, we drove for hardly 45 minutes when we entered the domain of enterprising loving couple – Boy and Hazel Guerrero – who dedicated themselves to planting this immense garden-resort that beckons to locals for its cool pristine air and verdant landscape with pools and secret nooks to discover.

            Our coo-some twosome were perched cozily in an open gazebo attending to buyers who were parading out of this particular garden laden with bags and pots of exotic plants. Miren quickly voiced her list of conifers to “Bakal ko” and was attended to immediately by Señor Guerrero while I asked la Señor Doña where I could find her cacti collection. As I pranced towards her directions, Hazel sadly added that they were not for sale.

            You see, when I was working for Club Med in Marrakech, I was invited to a grand soiree where the entire garden was made of different species of cactus, mostly towering which completely transported me to a different world. I thought I found my paradise of low maintenance gardening. Helas, I had to settle with a feast for the eyes… 

            And what a delight looking at all sorts of these prickly, untouchable wonders. My Lola Sefit Tionko vda. De Lacson had an enormous collection of such in our ancestral home in Silay City and, as a young boy, I would go out to the roof deck terrace where a glassed in display of succulents would await my watering chore. You see, my grandmama would travel every year and would always make it a point to add two or more exotic species from some far off land. I was completely fascinated by this menagerie of plants that I could only water just a bit and not have the pleasure to touch them. What really got my attention were those that had some cottony texture covering it from my curious gaze and those that bore bright red flowers which contrasted with their dark green trunks. It was a pity that I was in Paris when Lola died, because when I finally got to visit her collection, it was sadly abandoned and whatever was left of it were already shrunk and dried.

            Pretty soon, I could hear the marching orders of Empress Miren and we had to hurry back to the Metropol because it gets dark early nowadays and her chauffeur wasn’t too familiar with the route. Our purchases were safely tied up at the back of the pickup and we plunged into the darkness of the Airport Road…

            Sigh, how I wished then that a plane was waiting to whisk me off back to Paris, but quickly changed my mind at the thought of the soaring Kung Flu cases plaguing my mistress, City of Lights. When oh, when will I again be able to breathe in the cold air of winter? 

            WARNING: The Burgos Market which has recently been tested for bearers of the Kung Flu is once again plagued by vendors not wearing any masks or protective face shields!!! How sad will it be if all our efforts in containing this pandemic will be gone to waste because of our complacency. We must stay vigilant and careful that cases won’t spike again as the holidays approach and people are raring to go out shopping and celebrating a victory over this deadly virus that will definitely be within our midst for another year!

            My prayer: The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice…The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. Psalm 97:1, 6, NIV

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