15 Aug2007


Mrs. MM and I usually don’t make a big deal of our birthdays, and at most we have a small dinner for say 8-10 people, including ourselves and perhaps another family or two. Sometimes we just go out to eat at a restaurant. Mrs. MM’s birthday several weeks ago was a low key affair, and the next two or three posts describes how you can do a fairly elegant and special meal without a whole lot of brouhaha. Sometimes special meals come together with very little planning whatsoever. While you could put me in the ultra OC category of humans, I sometimes let things just organically come together; I think it is a mellowing that comes with advancing age, and a comfort with the knowledge that a decent meal and good company is enough for a wonderful celebratory evening. This dinner started out with a trip to the flower market for two reasons — to obtain flowers for Mrs. MM’s birthday present, which would also serve as a centerpiece for a dining table… I actually didn’t even go to the wholesale market myself… I sent my trusted assistant in charge of plants and flowers and gave her some guidelines about colors and budget. And in this day and age of camera equipped cell phones, there is no reason why someone at the markets can’t check with you first, before buying in bulk…


They ended up buying approximately 30 dozen roses at Dimasalang, in shades of red, deep pinks, dark oranges, bright fuschia, etc. Total bill, less than PHP1,200 or $25 or so. Back at home, the roses were properly conditioned and soaked in cool water for several hours before being arranged. We took out lots of different height vases and settled on seven or nine different vases that we positioned at the center of a 12+ foot dining table (actually two tables put together). Then we simply massed the same colored roses at different angles and heights and 15 minutes later we had this centerpiece. The dinner wasn’t actually on her birthday, so the roses had to last a couple of days and still look fresh. By chance, we happened to have some placemats that echoed the colors of the flowers (this was not pre-planned), added on some red plates we normally use around the Christmas holidays and the table looked pretty pulled together, if you ask me. Throw in a generous smattering of votive candles and bring it up a notch…


I decided to plan a meal which would also have the rich jeweled tones of the flowers and table setting. In fact, a whole red/ruby/luscious theme was going to weave its way through the menu naturally (I think the birthstone for July is ruby, or is it?)… check out the next few posts for the meal itself… If your default option is to celebrate a special event at a restaurant, you should really reconsider once in a while that you can indeed pull off an elegant meal at home instead…



  1. Candygirl says:

    MM, I’ve been meaning to ask this about your flowers….when you say you soaked the roses in cool water, did you mean submerging the whole thing – flower and stem?

    Aug 15, 2007 | 2:10 pm


  2. Notice: Undefined variable: oddcomment in /home/marketman/marketmanila.com/wp-content/themes/marketmanila-v2/comments.php on line 33
  3. Marketman says:

    Candygirl, here is how I condition roses that I buy in bulk:

    1. First, buy the freshest roses you can, nearest the source, dimasalang in the evening from 9pm-11pm is ideal, they have just arrived in coolers from the Mt. Province.

    2. When you get home, cut off just about an inch or two of the stem with a clean sharp knife, slicing at an angle, diagonally, that is.

    3. Submerge the roses in clean water in a deep pail, I usually go up until 4-5 inches below the flower if possible.

    4. Keep in an aircon room overnight if you are going to sleep in one anyway… or soak for at least 6 hours.

    5. Take out from soaking water, strip off the leaves with a rose and thorn stripper if you have it and cut the stem again seconds before putting into the vase with water and flower food or preservative. If you have no flower food, add a drop of clorox to a small vase of water and mix it up. The clorox serves to inhibit bacterial growth. You can also add some aspirin or even some sugar or a touch of 7up, apparently the sugar helps to feed the flowers, but I use flower food, purchased in bulk in the U.S. and shipped home.

    6. If roses are really wilted, you can soak the entire stem and flower under cool water, in a bathtub but the stems weighed down with a brick or something heavy to keep them under water.

    7. Once you have the flowers arranged, if you change the water daily and cut a half inch or inch off the stem daily then the roses will last a good 6-7 days, even in Manila where it is incredibly warm sometimes.

    8. Do not leave roses in a draughty area where the breezes and temperatures change, they don’t like it.

    9. Roses are pretty tough, but if you handle them with care, they reward you with days of wonder…

    Aug 15, 2007 | 2:23 pm

  4. carina says:

    i love the mix of colors! galing!

    Aug 15, 2007 | 5:36 pm

  5. Rowi says:

    Hej Marketman!

    I love your colour combinations for the roses. The table setting is so well-coordinated that it’s a feast for the eyes, especially for those who enjoy strong colours like I do. That’s a pretty organised way of keeping roses. I’ll make an MM list and make it part of my how-to lists of keeping fresh flowers. Thank you for the guide.

    I’m curious about your dining table. Is this made of different old wood varieties? It reminds me of the work of furniture maker, Benjie Reyes who sculpts furniture from old pieces of various wood and come up with beautiful pieces of artwork.


    PS Happy Ruby celebrations!

    Aug 15, 2007 | 5:43 pm

  6. tulip says:

    The placemat looks familiar to me. Is it something weaved? The table setting is simply elegant for me. This may be too late…so (very)belated happy birthday to Mrs. MM. Keep the wonderful smile, you really look young.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 5:51 pm

  7. elaine says:

    The color combinations of the flowers are truly awesome! It matches with your plates and placemats. it’s very elegant without the ‘heavy’ feel and very chic.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 5:53 pm

  8. smiles4angels says:

    I love the colors!

    My mother would go to the market very early in the morning, imagine doing that in Baguio. She could buy varieties of flowers. And I usually end up doing the flower arrangements. One thing I’ve learned is to cut up the stems while the stem is submerged leaving no room for air to come in. Oxygen could hasten the wilting.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 6:04 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    smiles4angels, yes, some florists suggest cutting under water, but I have difficulty doing that when dealing with hundreds of stems… elaine, thank you! tulip, the placemats are french jacquard, I think, we got them many years ago on a trip to France and happened by a huge sale, they are a bit ratty close up… :) But the color combinations are beautiful. Towi, the dining table(s) are old, possibly very old wall panels from a wooden house that was dismantled and sold to wood merchants or specialists. The edges are made of kamagong and the center pieces of tindalo, which has a fantastic sheering effect when viewed from the side. The wood is roughly 2 inches thick and we love these tables…

    Aug 15, 2007 | 6:59 pm

  10. corrrine_p says:

    Do you conduct seminars for husbands? I’d have mine listed. hehe

    Aug 15, 2007 | 7:29 pm

  11. charmaine says:

    hello mm. belated happy birthday to mrs. mm. beautiful roses you got there. a very stunning centerpiece for your tablescape.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 8:24 pm

  12. bernadette says:

    My belated happy birthday wishes to Mrs MM! My hubby also makes up my birthday table and it makes me feel so good! May your tribe increase, Marketman!

    Aug 15, 2007 | 8:42 pm

  13. Jade186 says:

    Such a beautiful combination!
    I usually entertain at home as well, regardless of having a special occasion or not. Entertaining at home is cozier, more intimate, and on the practical side is definitely more economical for me :)
    Usually I’d combine roses with baby’s breath (as filler) and wiry fern, but I like the way you arranged them separately.
    I also give the flowers away to my guests, say a rose per person or female guest, depending how much I have as guests/flowers, as a token of the evening get-together spent at my humble home.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 9:48 pm

  14. Apicio says:

    Roses always bring to mind Sarah Vaughan’s Roses oh roses, thank you for saying the things that we could’nt say Oh what a wonderful way…and the closing credits of Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak where hundreds and hundreds of roses slowly cascaded down behind the roles and as we stood up and started to find our way out some mouthy spectator muttered for everyone to hear that it should have been called Dahil sa Pagkadamidaming Bulaklak.

    Reallly curious too about the tindalo, one of our hardest, heaviest and handsomest hardwoods. I have never actually seen nor touched a example of golden tindalo which must be what you have and with a shimmering golden glow yet.

    Aug 15, 2007 | 9:54 pm

  15. Maria Clara says:

    Your dining tables are magnificent! You and your team are seasoned party planners.

    Aug 16, 2007 | 12:24 am

  16. Katrina says:

    Happy Birthday, Mrs. MM!!!

    That’s a beautiful table setting, MM. Gorgeous colors! Purple with orange is one of my fave color combinations. :-)

    Aug 16, 2007 | 12:41 am

  17. dhayL says:

    Oh i soo love the clour and size combination! The table setting looks so intimate! We grow 4 diff variety of roses in our backyard, one of them looks like the yellow with a hint of orange on top. They surely brighten every corner of our house! :)

    Aug 16, 2007 | 7:41 am

  18. linda says:

    A belate Happy Birthday,Mrs.MM! Gorgeous flowers and arrangement you’ve got there,MM. And the table is just beautiful.

    Napakaromantic mo naman,MM!

    Aug 16, 2007 | 7:22 pm

  19. suzette says:

    Belated happy birthday to mrs mm!!! an elegant birthday present from mm indeed :)

    Aug 16, 2007 | 9:27 pm

  20. Candygirl says:

    Thanks so much for the detailed instructions! Now I get it, hehe. I appreciate the time and effort :-)

    Aug 19, 2007 | 11:13 am

  21. nina says:

    Belated Happy Birthday to Mrs MM! I thought Ruby Birthday means 40th Birthday because 40th Wedding is called Ruby Wedding. But July’s birthstone is ruby so it is still a Ruby Birthday celebration! You gave me an idea for the theme of my next birthday!!!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 5:35 pm

  22. Frieda says:

    You ARE gooood!
    Love the color combination, the varied heights, the simplicity!
    To me “classy” is knowing when to stop – like what you did here.

    Sep 5, 2007 | 8:24 pm

  23. june says:

    Love the colors! You mentioned fresh flowers – have you tried purchasing from http://www.islandrose.net? They have the freshest and most beautiful roses (only roses)! I know you can make a purchase in their Makati office, however, I’m not so sure if the prices are the same on the internet.

    Sep 10, 2007 | 12:46 am


Market Manila Home · Topics · Archives · About · Contact · Links · RSS Feed

site design by pixelpush

Market Manila © 2004 - 2021