MANILA - As a tribute to the late President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, one of her former Cabinet secretaries developed a new breed of orchid and named it after her.
The Blc Cory Aquino orchid (Brassolaeliocattleya Cory Aquino), bred by former Justice Secretary Hernando B. Perez, is a graceful but sturdy plant with yellow and green varieties that sport pink outer petals.
"This was my way of expressing my admiration for [former] President Cory, and I thought it was just right because the plant was bred from [an orchid variety called] Benigno Aquino. And also because it is the color yellow," Perez told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.
The orchid hybrid took 5 years to grow, using cross-pollination methods. Its "mother and father" plants are a variety of yellow orchid named Dendrobium Ninoy Aquino and the greenish Malvarosa Jade orchid.
The color yellow was widely associated with both Ninoy and Cory Aquino, since they used this color in clothes or campaign paraphernalia. Flowers were also one of former President Aquino's favorite painting subjects.
Unlike most orchids that need to be propped up, Perez said the Blc Cory Aquino stands erect and proud, much like his idea of the late former president.
"It symbolizes strength of character because it is a sturdy plant. Pirmeng naka-tindig yun eh. Pirmeng proud. It is also feminine-looking but with a strong-bearing. Its petals are pink which means it is long-lasting," he added.
Before Aquino died, Perez said he was able to give her a pot of his best Blc Cory Aquino orchids and the plant's registry certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society, a London-based international group that registers orchid hybrids.
He said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda" that this gesture made Aquino very happy.
Perez, who was named honorary chairman of the Philippine Orchid Society (POS) last year, has been an avid orchid breeder since 1974. He joined the POS in 1980 and registered the Blc Cory Aquino with the Royal Horticultural Society's orchid registry in 2004.
The Blc Cory Aquino is priced at P1,500 for its large varieties and is available at Perez's farm, Malvarosa Orchids, in Batangas. It will also be featured in an orchid show organized by the POS from August 27 to September 7 this year.
Perez said the Blc Cory Aquino flower has always made him proud, since it has consistently garnered awards in numerous horticultural contests. "Every time I enter [the flower] in a contest, palaging panalo," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
When it won the "Best Philippine Hybrid" award at the Flora Filipina Expo in 2007 - the highest award that a Philippine orchid breed can get - Perez said Aquino sent him a text message congratulating him for the "prize-winning orchid." He still keeps the text message on his phone to this day.
In that same 2007 garden show, one of the entries in the Pink Category was a Cattleya hybrid variety named after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The "GMA President," with lilac outer petals and yellow inner petals, lost the competition.
Perez said there are various orchids all over the world named that were named after prominent public figures. These include former ABS-CBN anchor Christine Bersola-Babao, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, Indian legend Mahatma Gandhi, and retired star golfer Annika Sorenstam. Report by Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Horticultural Society.