By Soeui Lee
MANILA, Philippines - For about half a century, the graduates of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) have always received their diploma in summer, under the blazing sun. However, because of the academic calendar shift, this year’s graduates might get soaked in rain.
When the new graduation day was set, what worried the students, among other things, was whether or not they'll see the sunflowers when they graduate.
The sunflower is an icon of the UP graduation. The graduating students expect to see the sunflowers along the University Avenue, a symbol of their new hopes and dreams. Ever since the early 1980’s, this tradition of sunflowers serve as a yellow backdrop when the graduates march in.
Fortunately, though the academic calendar changed, the sunflowers will remain.
Sunflowers bloom in June
Chancellor Michael Tan gave a go signal to plant sunflowers in time with the graduation ceremony on June 28. As of June 23, the University Avenue is decorated with sunflowers for the first time during a rainy season. Ironic as it may seem, but there are sunflowers under the cloudy sky.
But with a downpour expected expected in the next few days, can the flowers last until graduation day?
According to UP’s Campus Maintenance Office (CMO), it is possible. This year’s species of sunflower is not the same ones grown in the past, Alden Aynera, CMO’s acting director said.
The seeds used are certified seeds, guaranteering 100% germination and much more tolerance to rain. Former species of sunflowers died down when their inflorescence (small group of flowers around the stem) is soaked by the rain. But the sunflowers grown from certified seeds can endure days under the pouring rain.
“We always accept the challenge. We don’t shy away from challenges,” Aynera said, adding that certified seeds are much more expensive and harder to find.
It was not easy to make sunflowers bloom in June, Aynera added. “You know for a fact that sunflowers are good for summer, because of the name itself. If there is no sun, it will not bloom.”
Aynera and his team started test planting as early as last year. It was months and months of worrying, working in the fields and spaying pesticide.
Will the future Isoklar ng Bayan get to see the yellow ray of sunflowers reaching out to the Oblation? Aynera, with his team’s hard work, is positive that the tradition of blooming sunflowers every graduation in UP will live on. – Rappler.com
This story originally appeared at Rappler.com. Photos by Soeui Lee/Rappler.
Soeui Lee is a Rappler intern.