BAGUIO - A group of Japanese nationals donated 20 sakura or cherry blossom seedlings to a country club in this mountain city, Saturday.
The beloved cherry trees from Japan bloom only once a year, during spring, which is feverishly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. Many tourists plan their entire trips around the blooms, and Japanese flock to parks in their millions to enjoy the seasonal spectacle.
The donation of sakura seelings to the Baguio Country Club was spearheaded by its member Maria Paz-Suzuki, who said the idea came from her Japanese husband years ago.
"We were planting pine trees here in the club, and he said, 'Saito-san, why not plant cherry blossom trees?' I said, 'Cherry blossom trees will never grow in Baguio.' And he said, 'Why not, let's try,'" recalled Suzuki.
The couple then brought samples of soil from Baguio to an agricultural facility in Japan, where they could be analyzed. However, Suzuki's husband passed away and she was not able to follow-up on the study.
In 2017, Suzuki met Japanese national Shigiru Tsunashima who volunteered to seek an update on the study, from which they learned that it was possible for sakura trees to grow in the chilly climate of Baguio.
Customs restrictions presented a difficulty in transporting the seedling to the city, they said.
"Two documents were very important when we passed Customs in the airport. [We were initially hampered] but in the end we succeeded in taking them back. We have talked with many, many people to complete that," said Tsunashima.
Sakura trees area expected to mature in 3 to 5 years. The group aims to plant at least 100 cherry blossom trees in the club.
Cherry blossoms symbolize the fragility of life in Japanese culture as full blooms only last about a week before the petals start falling off trees.
The season is traditionally celebrated in Japan with hanami, or viewing parties, in cherry blossom hotspots, with picnics organized beneath the trees.
With a report from Agence France-Presse