Local News

Ilonggos Growing Green Thumb Amid COVID Crisis

Since the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine, Ilonggos have found ways to keep themselves preoccupied amid being locked within the confines of their homes. After the transition to general community quarantine, some have developed a liking for ‘bartering’, thus the Iloilo Barter Community. Some developed a liking for plants, thus the rise of the ‘plantitos’ and ‘plantitas’. It only goes to show that amid adversity, Ilonggos always find the positive in everything.

Rise of the Plantitos and Plantitas

With digital means, Ilonggos can post a photo of an item they wish to barter (for Iloilo Barter Community), or plants (for Iloilo Plant Exchange) they want to exchange. A Facebook Community, Iloilo Plant Exchange is a community for plant lovers in the city of love. It also serves as a channel for enthusiasts to exchange plants.

“I think this is because of the months of being quarantined at home. People finally found time to do what they love, and a lot have interest in planting. I think the interest is there way before but the time to do it wasn’t. Plus, they have found a support group,” states Noi Glenn, admin of the Facebook Community, Iloilo Plant Exchange

Moreover, Noi further explains the group’s purpose.

“Iloilo Plant Exchange (IPE) is not the first community in Facebook dedicated to plant enthusiasts but, so far, it has the highest number of members and the most active group. Our cause is to provide Ilonggo community a place to share their ideas and love for plants, and by doing this, we help boost the local plant industry especially for our small-scale sellers,”he adds.

The community was launched May 20, 2020. To date, it has 5,000 members and counting.

“Snake plants (scheffleras), cacti, succulents and philodendrons are the favorites. The most unique plants are those that are rare and pricey. Some plants can fetch up to 45k! A cultivar of anthurium. Value wise, the barter did not happen. Those I have seen in the group postings which are unique are the lithops. a specie of succulent,” Noi concludes.

Moreover, members have also been vocal about their love for plants. The community recently held a contest, Queen Plant Contest where winner Xeng Solis, shares her love for plants. Xeng highlights her winning plant ‘Queen Brienne’, a variegated elephant ear.

“Brienne has acclimatized to our indoor setting, provided that it receives bright, indirect sunlight. Situated at a south facing window so it receives morning light and not the harsh afternoon sun. Outdoors, Brienne could thrive in humid and shady conditions. To keep our Queen Brienne healthy, we used a well-draining soil, we occasionally wipe clean her giant ears, we let her drink water every other day, let her wake up to bright, indirect sunlight, and we sing to her. Yes, music makes her happy,” states Xeng Solis, a plant enthusiast.

Selling Produce Saves Local Hotel from Closure

One of the forerunner hotels in Iloilo City, Hotel del Rio remains strong amid the recent public health emergency. It may be recalled that the coronavirus disease has immensely crippled the economy and has forced industries to shut down. One of the most affected industries is the hospitality sector.

Local hotel ‘Hotel del Rio’ spawns ‘Mercado del Rio’, a store selling produce from marginalized farmers in both upland and lowland Iloilo Province. The hotel’s coffee shop at the lobby, known as Café del Prado, was transformed into ‘Mercado del Rio’. The ‘mercado’ is the hotel’s initiative to help local farmers sustain their livelihood while enabling consumers to access locally grown produce.

“Just sharing how my love for plants and agriculture saved our hotel, Hotel Del Rio from closing during ECQ and GCQ. Yes, you’ve seen it right we converted half of our coffee shop, Cafe Del Prado, to Mercado Del Rio. We chose to carry our own weather and not give up. When you can’t find the sun, Be the sunshine. We continue to innovate, adapt, and accept the challenge that this Pandemic gives us. We stand strong and mighty true to our tagline “Ilonggo Heritage at it’s finest,” states Hotel del Rio’s Chief Operating Officer Allan Tan, in a social media post.


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