Sunflowers at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus have been a fixture during graduation season since the 1970s. It was only in 2014 that the university insisted to grow these big golden flowers right along with the academic shift during the rainy season, a scientific feat as the plants are notoriously sun-loving, hence its name.
Once again, this year amid a pandemic, the university has made the impossible possible: lighting up the stretch of the University Avenue with big yellow sunflowers. The sight attracts visitors and unfortunately, flower pickers, who want to bring a piece of sunshine into their homes.
The UP Diliman Campus Maintenance Office (CMO), appealing to the public, said in a post that picking sunflowers—or any plant inside the campus for that matter—is prohibited.
“Ang mga ito ay pag-aari ng komunidad at walang sinuman ang may karapatang umangkin para laman sa kanilang personal na nais,” CMO said. (These are the community’s property and no one has the right to claim it for their own personal gain.)
Honor the hard work
Former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary and distinguished UP alumna Judy Taguiwalo said in a Facebook post that the area planted with sunflowers this year is only limited, skirting around the checkpoint near the university entrance.
Taguiwalo quoted a post by UP employee Perlita Raña who stressed that it is important not to touch or pick the flowers out of respect to the hard work that went into cultivating them. This is also to allow more people to have an opportunity to appreciate the marvelous flowers.
According to her source, it takes several months prior to graduation season to condition and till the soil in preparation for sunflower planting. This year, UP Diliman CMO employees had to do it during the dry seasons in March and April just so the flowers will bloom right in time for June.
UP Diliman CMO also utilized resource-efficient ways to tend to the sunflowers. This included leveraging the sewage system for watering, as well as a small river that runs alongside the University Avenue.
Taguiwalo’s source added that the CMO employees had to endure extreme heat and sewage water while they performed extraneous labor just to ensure that the sunflowers bloom this year.
“Kaya sa tuwing hinahawakan ninyo at pinipitas ang mga sunflower sa university avenue, nakakaramdam sila ng takot na sa isang kisapmata ay baka mabalewala ang kanilang mga pinaghirapan. Nawa ay maalala ninyo ang hirap at pagod na dinanas ng ating mga manggagawa sa CMO upang mabigyan lamang tayong lahat ng kasiyahan sa mga panahong ito,” Taguiwalo’s repost read. (So every time you touch and pick these sunflowers along the University Avenue, the employees fear that in a blink of an eye the fruit of their labor will be gone. We hope you remember the work that CMO had to do just to give us joy at this time.)