ATOK, Benguet - Cherry blossoms, or "sakura" in Japanese, are considered one of the most beautiful flowers in the world.
The beloved cherry trees, which can be found in Japan, bloom only once a year, during spring.
But those who want to catch a glimpse of these beautiful flowers no longer have to empty their wallets and fly to Japan.
Just go to Benguet province.
The Kochi Prefecture has given Benguet 35 seedlings, 34 of which have been planted in Paoay, Atok and one in Mankayan.
"I think it's a first of its kind in the Philippines," said Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, who fell in love with the pink and white flowers during his visit to Japan.
The team from Japan originally considered planting the trees in Mt. Pulag where the climate is more more temperate. The mountain's altitude, however, is too high for the trees to thrive, prompting the team to instead plant them in Atok.
The seedlings symbolize not only the blossoming relationship between Kochi Prefecture and the province of Benguet, but also the heroic Filipino and Japanese soldiers who died during World War II.
Marie Venus Tan, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) - Cordillera, said the cherry trees will help boost tourism in Benguet.
Tan said they are also hoping that this can serve as an eye opener to the community where locals cut trees to make space for vegetable farms.
The cherry trees are expected to bloom and yield their first flowers in three years.