Marketmanila declares the holiday season on! Though the lights on the main thoroughfares and avenues in Manila have been up for several weeks, the artificial or inanimate Christmas dÃ©cor already ragged and dusty from months of exposure, the carols on mall sound systems and the radio tired from overuse, it didnâ€™t quite seem like the holiday switch was really turned on. I have been so busy lately that instead of having several Christmas posts lined up and ready to go, I am scrambling to catch up amidst an intensely busy scheduleâ€¦ but on the way back home yesterday from a grueling though successful business trip, there was a definite and noticeable â€œnipâ€ in the air (read the temperature has dropped 2 degrees or so), the traffic is turning unbearable, people are busily spending their 13th month bonuses and â€œclickâ€ â€“ the Christmas switch flicked â€œonâ€. Over the next few weeks I will be featuring several of the Christmas food specialties that were requested by readers in earlier pollsâ€¦
A visit to the Rockwell mall in Makati a few days ago yielded a pleasant holiday surpriseâ€¦ thousands of live poinsettias used as dÃ©cor in a stunning display of Christmas â€œredâ€. The volume and use of this holiday flower was beautiful, tasteful and impressive. This is probably the only mall that really spends a significant budget on its holiday dÃ©cor! Poinsettias may strike some as being boring, overdone and old-fashioned. I would disagreeâ€¦ like a fruitcake, paper parols or bibingka, they scream tradition and the holiday season! But please donâ€™t put fake poinsettia blooms on your Christmas tree, Marketmanila style police will come knockingâ€¦ A native to Mexico, Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) have been around for centuries and grew in the wild in the lower elevations. The Aztec name was â€œCuetlaxochitleâ€ according to the comprehensive site of the University of Illinois on the plant. The red â€œpetalsâ€ are actually leaves or bracts that have changed color when the weather turns a little cooler and the nights get longer. Named after the American Ambassador to Mexico in the 1820â€™s, Mr. Joel Poinsett, the poinsettia has become the most universally recognized flower of the Christmas season. The more popular commercial versions now are all farm-raised and force-bloomedâ€¦
My childhood memories of this plant are of 8-10 foot bushes in the yard that always seemed to bloom just a few weeks AFTER Christmas when the January chill was at its coldest. These large scraggly bushes used to thrive all across Manila and in the provinces. There doesnâ€™t seem to be as many of the garden variety plants today; instead we have the greenhouse raised hybrids that bring poinsettias into our homes in a highly vibrant, consistent and reliable form. King Louis is probably the largest grower of poinsettias in the Philippines today. They started growing the hybrid varieties a few years ago and I am thrilled that they have them on offer all through November and early December for the holiday season. They have several varieties and sizes of poinsettias on offer and the retail prices are extremely reasonable (wholesale must be even better for Rockwell to order several thousand pots!). Their poinsettias last a good three weeks indoors and come from the finest stock of hybrids from Paul Ecke farms in California. I always have several pots of poinsettias in our home during the holidays and I never tire of the stunningly red, vibrant and classic holiday flower. To get the freshest poinsettias around, go to either King Louis main branch at the Manila Seedling Bank compound in Quezon City or their retail branch at Market!Market! in Taguig. I have two varieties in these photosâ€¦ the more classic Freedom bride which was PHP250 and the smaller bract poinsettia in a hanging pot that cost PHP350. Poinsettias also come in white and pink varieties. For more information, call Francis at King Louis Flowers at 9294105 and 4339459.