Flowers at their Finest
A homegrown company has gone beyond just growing and selling flowers.
What started out as a hobby to help a stressed-out housewife relax is now one of the Philippines’s leading names in the business of plants and flowers. When Charita Puentespina was told by her doctors to slow down and take up gardening to relieve her of the stress in the workplace, little did she know that she would grow to love it and eventually nurture it into not just a profitable and diversified business, but also a champion of local flora.
Puentespina Orchids & Tropical Plants Inc., POTPI, more popularly known under the brand name “Waling, Flowers from Davao”, was founded in 1978, has now evolved into an enterprise that involves the next generation of the Puentespina family. Eldest son Angel Puentespina, who trained as an agricultural engineer, heads the company, while younger son Rex manages the Manila office, Angel’s wife Arlene handles the flower shop as well as the landscape projects, and daughter-in-law Olive handles the company’s research and development activities. Today, the Davao-based company has diversified into cutflowers (carrying exotic orchids such as Dendrobiums, Oncidiums and Mokaras, as well as popular blooms like Chrysanthemums, Liliums, Gerberas, and Lisianthus), cut foliage, plant sales, landscaping services, and plant rentals.
In spite of being a family-owned and managed enterprise, Puentespina Orchids keeps things run professionally and maintains a structure that allows it to nurture its core businesses while at the same time explore new territory for the company.
The company divides its activities into four production areas. Puentespina Orchid Gardens, located in Davao City, is where the garden center, offices, and the laboratory are located. It is also here that Waling’s famous seedlings and plantlets are hardened, the bulk of which are nursed to maturity at the next production area, Malagos Farm.
Malagos Farms is a sprawling, eight-hectare property in the Baguio District of Davao City. At an elevation of 375 meters above sea level, it is the ideal location for growing the most breathtaking Vandas , Dendrobiums , Mokaras, Oncidium Grower Ramsey, and Phalaenopsis, as well as exotic landscape plants. It produces approximately 20,000 dozen sprays of Oncidium Grower Ramsey and 60,000 dozen inflorescences of Dendrobiums. Adjacent to the farm is the family’s famous Malagos Garden Resort, (www.malagos.com), which serves as a hotel, park, function area, and public stage where the family can share its love and knowledge of indigenous Philippine flora, and, occasionally, even the country’s rich avian life.
The magic of growing the popular blooms such as Chrysanthemums and Gerberas production happens in the family’s nearby Pictan Farm. Thanks to careful crop rotation, the farm is also able to produce field crops along with plants grown for their decorative cut foliage such as eucalyptus, white and green lace, and Philodendrons.
Also nearby is King Toto Farm (also known as Carmen Farms), where a lot of the company’s creative activity is undertaken. The farm is at the foothills of Mt Talomo, and is on the fringes of Davao’s lush forests. It enjoys a very cool climate, being located more than a thousand meters above sea level. With its rolling terrain, it is dotted with springs that lead to Panigan River, which acts as the farm’s natural boundary.
The farm is a mixed-use area and is thus not limited to cutflower production. In addition to growing Hydrangea and more than a hundred thousand stems of Oriental Liliums and Eustoma (Lisianthus), this is also where thousands of the endemic species-Nepenthes 'truncata' are grown. During the fall season, decorative pumpkins are also grown, and to serve the local collectors, the farm also imports other interesting carnivorous plants. It is also a game farm with a forested section for the breeding of butterflies.
More than just Flowers
What makes a flower farm more than a grower and seller of flowers? Puentespina Orchids distinguishes itself from the rest by its advocacies and innovation in Philippine horticulture.
Over the years, the company has espoused and championed pioneering efforts to conserve and protect the country’s flora. It has also poured its resources into the breeding and culture of different Philippine orchids, notably the most important and beautiful Vanda sanderiana, more popularly known as the Waling Waling.
Through mass propagation (tissue culture), it has made the Waling Waling available to more people, even inducing the year-round flowering of the species outside its normal flowering seasons of August, September, and January. It has likewise supported the creation of a “Waling Waling Forest “ at the Malagos Garden Resort, its sister company.
Puentespina Orchids was also instrumental in the introduction in the Philippines of the cut foliage trade, introducing both local and imported varieties wherein the leaves and stems are used in floral arrangements. It also pioneered in the growing of Eustoma (Lisianthus), a very new product in the cut-flower trade worldwide, as well as the growing of temperate climate flowers such as Liliums, Gerberas, and many others.
Its application of pioneering systems of growing plants that suit its market and other conditions has improved production and developed many techniques in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). In fact, on top of being known for its unique and high-quality work in the field of Floral Artistry projects, its Research and Development has produced numerous products that are not limited to the horticulture business, among them the Bignay Wine.