13 May2013


We recently said farewell to one of the finest, kindest and most elegant ladies we have ever known. The mother of a good friend, she was the epitome of someone who lived life to the fullest. A gourmand and avid gardener, the meals we experienced in her homes over the years were amongst the best we have ever had. I also owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude, for she (and her crew) were the first ones to teach me how to roast a lechon from start (live piglet) to finish. She was later amused by my lechon adventures, and chided me for the “Best Pig, Ever!” quote, but deep down inside, I am sure she knew she provided the first spark years ago, in her fabulous backyard and private lechon roasting pit. So when I got the very sad news of her passing, I immediately booked a flight back from Cebu…


I knew the floral tributes would be spectacular, but I also knew that making something ourselves might be more personal, more heartfelt, more appropriate. I know most folks are extremely busy, and would rather leave the flowers to professionals, but my gut said to head to the wholesale flower market instead. Friday before Mother’s Day is a zoo at the market, and I formulated a plan in the car ride from the airport at 5am… I purchased 60 dozen small white roses, which were drastically cut back to just 3-5 inches of stem remaining, and soaked in cool water for a couple of hours to condition the blooms and bring them back to life.


We also purchased eight butterfly orchid plants, which had just arrived from Taiwan, and had the largest, most abundant sprays of blooms.


Back at home, we picked out an old, used wine crate and sawed a piece of plywood that we nailed to the bottom of the crate to support the floral foam. My crew could sense this was a very special project in the making, and I couldn’t have done this without them. Read that as I would hammer my thumbs if I actually attempted to use the hammer… :) The detail of the crate having housed wine from a less famous chateau, albeit Grand Cru Classe, wasn’t lost on me, even if only I would know this…


Next, we trimmed floral foam or oasis and placed it around the outside of the wooden crate.


Mark the oasis to trim and be flush against the top of the wooden wine crate.


Dip the floral foam in water, place them around the crate, and secure with some straw. Inside the crate, I added some plastic bubble wrap, some more floral foam to “raise” the bottom of the box. You could do without the bubble wrap, since the outer floral foam would inevitably dampen the box anyway…


Next arrange the 700+ roses onto the foam surrounding the wine crate.


This took me and Chief of Stuff roughly two hours to complete! And at first, it ended up looking like a large box of kleenex from afar! :)


I broke many rose stems (they were not firm) and resorted to punching holes in the foam with a barbecue stick, then pushing in the blooms so that they had a better chance of getting properly imbedded in the foam.


Next, position the orchid plants inside the box. Steady the plants with remnant pieces of floral foam.


The crew worked on finishing the back of the piece, and we had just barely enough roses to finish off the job.


Cover the base of the orchids with dried moss dampened with water. Wipe the orchid leaves with damp paper towels.


Done and ready to be delivered. Except that I hadn’t counted on it weighing in at some 70-80 pounds! Yipes!


It turned out quite nicely for a homemade project. And I hope it met with the lady’s approval… On a final note, the last time Mrs. MM and I saw her, she had startled me with a comment that for years she had been eating “fake sotanghon” and where could she buy that “good sotanghon”… When I looked at her quizzically, she smiled and said, “I read some of your posts, you know…” Hahaha. I was honored, and I promptly headed to Binondo the next day and sent her 5 kilos of Pagoda sotanghon. The day after that, she sent a handwritten thank you note, along with a basket of sweet corn grown in her gardens… She was one of kind, and we will all miss her dearly.



  1. Gigie dela cruz says:

    The flowers are so beautiful! Condolences!

    May 13, 2013 | 9:49 pm


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  3. Khew says:

    Yes, I’ve experienced the frustration of flower stems too weak to stick into the oasis and at the same time had to be careful not to make too big a “starter hole” lest the flowers wobbled or worse still dropped out.

    May 13, 2013 | 10:18 pm

  4. Shalimar says:

    Touching and elegant flowers! Condolences.

    May 13, 2013 | 10:21 pm

  5. Lalaine says:

    Surely a wonderful person will be missed and remembered by all the lives she touched and inspired. Love the flowers.

    May 13, 2013 | 11:17 pm

  6. netoy says:

    Simply beautiful.

    May 13, 2013 | 11:28 pm

  7. Britelite says:

    Her pancit molo is delicious!

    May 14, 2013 | 12:27 am

  8. Betchay says:

    May she rest in peace…what a lovely gesture from you!

    May 14, 2013 | 1:57 am

  9. G says:

    Hi Marketman- I’ll be visiting Manila for a few weeks, but will also begoing to Cebu for a side trip as a tourist. I’ve been checking hotels on Expedia.com, and I was wondering if the Marriott in Cebu City is near one of your Zubuchon stores? If not, which one is? I’d like to be sure I’ll be able to make it to your restaurant to try the famouse pig.


    May 14, 2013 | 2:42 am

  10. joanie says:

    Beautiful flower arrangement! and i’m sorry for your loss!

    May 14, 2013 | 3:56 am

  11. Rebecca says:

    My condolences on the loss of your friend, MM. That is a gorgeous arrangement, and a lovely story about how she inspired your lechon chronicles.

    May 14, 2013 | 4:22 am

  12. Dreaming says:

    A beautiful tribute from the heart! I’m sure she loved the flowers and is smiling down on you.

    May 14, 2013 | 6:36 am

  13. nessa says:

    Condolences MM. I’ll remember her in my prayers.

    May 14, 2013 | 8:32 am

  14. linda says:

    What a beautiful and clever flower arrangement,MM! Condolences.

    May 14, 2013 | 8:33 am

  15. cherryoyvr says:

    So sorry for your loss MM and family. That is certainly a spectacular arrangement which will make anyone feel loved and cherished forever.

    May 14, 2013 | 8:41 am

  16. marilen says:

    The people who touch our lives – how beautiful the memories. Thank you, MM, for sharing.

    May 14, 2013 | 9:00 am

  17. millet says:

    such a beautiful and unique arrangement, MM. condolences, MM and family.

    May 14, 2013 | 10:30 am

  18. bhs says:

    Beautiful arrangement! Even more beautiful story! I admire your artistry. But really, how do you transport that without having to lift the table it’s on?

    May 14, 2013 | 10:42 am

  19. Marketman says:

    Lifted from below, very carefully, and probably hernia inducing. But we managed to get it to its destination, and it was moved twice after that…

    May 14, 2013 | 10:58 am

  20. natie says:

    And where was this most beautiful tribute situated in this fine lady’s final visitation place? This deserves a pedestal of some sort–closest to its inspiration! even in death, beauty exists..

    May 14, 2013 | 11:11 am

  21. Marketman says:

    G, the Marriott is located near Ayala Center, roughly a 10 minute or so cab ride from our Escario Central branch, the largest in the city. It is a smallish 4-star hotel, but well-located. Nearer to the Capitol is a 2-3 star Best Western LEX, literally walking distance from E Central… A 1 star, almost howard johnson’s type hotel, modest but clean and convenient is the Escario Central hotel, from which you could literally reach our restaurant in less than a minute. :) As a base for an overall Cebu visit, the Marriott might make the most sense, however… Perhaps 40 % less in cost would be the Quest hotel, small rooms but close to the mall as well.

    May 14, 2013 | 11:14 am

  22. Marketman says:

    natie, it had a place of honor, and even if it didn’t, I’m sure she would have had a close glance at it, if only to see if we had done the effort justice… :)

    May 14, 2013 | 11:16 am

  23. corrine says:

    What a beautiful gesture for a beloved friend! It’s so elegant.

    May 14, 2013 | 1:16 pm

  24. Cheryl says:

    condolences MM!

    May 14, 2013 | 1:40 pm

  25. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    What a beautiful work of floral art…

    May 14, 2013 | 3:19 pm

  26. cristina says:

    Was at the wake and wondered who did the beautiful arrangement; now I know. Truly beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady!

    May 14, 2013 | 7:07 pm

  27. Chinky says:

    Am pretty sure she appreciated your beautiful arrangement! Sorry for your loss, MM.

    May 14, 2013 | 10:38 pm

  28. kristin says:

    breathtakingly beautiful…my condolences to a loss of a friend…MM,thank you for the inspiration of this elegant arrangement,will do a mini-size of this (pakopya :)..

    May 15, 2013 | 2:12 am

  29. Monique says:

    My condolences… These flowers are awesome… simply amazing. You are too creative!!!!!!

    May 15, 2013 | 2:47 am

  30. myra_p says:

    Everyone has that one person in their life who sparked something great and good… She sounds like a very lovely lady and personalized flowers are always more meaningful :)

    May 15, 2013 | 8:16 am

  31. odessa says:

    the arrangement is spectacular MM!
    … my condolences po.
    for someone dear, a personal touch is always a hit. . . :)

    May 15, 2013 | 9:52 am

  32. Malou MF says:

    Indeed a fine lady! We will miss Tita xx . Beautiful arrangement my friend.

    May 15, 2013 | 2:01 pm

  33. Gina Blanco says:

    Beautiful post. Gorgeous arrangement. I’m touched by your love and honor for this person.

    May 16, 2013 | 12:18 pm

  34. Slightly Epicurean says:

    Making your own flower arrangement for a dear one is very kind and generous of you, MM. I admire your gesture. Extending my condolences!

    May 16, 2013 | 5:19 pm

  35. Irene says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, MM. That’s a beautiful way to say goodbye.

    May 17, 2013 | 9:31 am

  36. Roderick says:

    Condolences MM.

    May 17, 2013 | 6:56 pm

  37. lalen says:

    my condolences mm.

    May 19, 2013 | 2:10 pm

  38. Sister says:

    Well done.

    May 20, 2013 | 8:40 am

  39. Gerry T says:

    That is so pretty! Good job everybody!

    May 21, 2013 | 2:04 am

  40. Mari of NY says:

    Very pretty… such a nice gesture for a very dear lady. A very apt choice of flowers… Prayers for her family…

    May 22, 2013 | 11:37 am

  41. MP says:

    My Dad once told me to live a life of giving, sharing and learning so that when I go, someone whose life I have touched will bring me the most beautiful flowers and cry for me… Hmmm… Your floral arrangement and tribute to the wonderful lady (who I should also be thankful for – she started your interest in lechon, afterall) made me remember my Dad and his sage advice!

    May 22, 2013 | 6:18 pm

  42. Gigi says:

    Condolences on the loss of a friend, MM and family.

    May 27, 2013 | 7:06 am

  43. suzette says:

    a very fine flower arrangement fit for a fine lady…

    May 29, 2013 | 2:07 pm

  44. Adi says:

    Sayang… sana that was made when she was still alive. :( She would have appreciated it all the more.

    May 30, 2013 | 7:57 pm

  45. Marketman says:

    Adi, trust me, she was surrounded by fantastic flowers for most of her life… :)

    May 30, 2013 | 8:39 pm

  46. A nephew says:

    This lady touched me the same way she touched you. I am so proud to have had the chance to really get to know her. I miss her dearly.

    Jul 23, 2013 | 7:15 pm

  47. Jay Martin says:

    Hello everyone! Can anyone please recommend a good store in Dangwa that has the widest variety of flowers with reasonable prices? Also, what flowers do well with crimson red roses? Thank you so much in advance to all who will share their thoughts! :-) I just urgently need to finalize the flowers that will be used at my uncle’s wedding on August 18.

    Jul 27, 2013 | 11:31 am

  48. Jay Martin says:

    Anyone who has an idea of the prices of red roses in Dangwa this month?

    Jul 27, 2013 | 11:31 am


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