Through a broken pane of capiz shell, I caught this glimpse of the gardens at the Araneta home in Bago City. The spacious home had an equally spacious garden, and right beside the entry gate was this lush and wonderfully fragrant sampaguita bush/vine. I always knew that sampaguita was a jasmine, but I didn’t realize that there were dozens and dozens of types of jasmine. According to this wonderful site, our sampaguita is a Jasminum sambac, native to India, Burma and Sri Lanka and the surrounding areas…
I have never, until now, wondered how it got its local name, but the same site writes that it is Spanish for the local phrase “sumpa kita’ or “I promise you.” Isn’t that kinda cool? It’s like a British person deciding to name Mumbai Bombay instead because he couldn’t figure out the accent. So this Spanish dude or dudette decided “sumpa kita” would become “sampaguita” instead… :)
The national flower of the Philippines, it is ALSO the national flower of Indonesia. It’s fragrance can be a bit cloying in a small space like an automobile, hanging from the rear-view mirror… but out in a natural setting like a garden, an occasional whiff of sweet scent drifting over from a large flowering bush is most pleasant.
Does anyone know where they grow this flower commercially, so that all those street vendors are constantly supplied with endless garlands of sampaguita flowers? I would love to do a dinner and encrust several centerpieces with sampaguita blooms… never once have I seen baskets full of unstrung sampaguita… it must be an amazing sight!