Flower stores in the city will not be raising the prices of their bouquets and other decorative arrangements this Valentine’s Day although their importation of flowers from China has been affected by the cancellation of flights due to the 2019-novel coronavirus (now Covid-19).
Jong Morato, a two-decade florist and owner of Blooms by Jong, said since the Philippines banned the entry of flights from China, they have been buying imported flowers as “fillers” from Thailand, India, Ecuador, and Holland.
She said the reason why they prefer flowers from China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus, is because they are of good quality and cost less.
Before nCoV, she said she has been importing China flowers like carnation, gerbera, lisianthus, misty blue, and statice.
Morato said she prefers the China roses than those from Baguio because the farmers really take good care of the blooms as they are important in their culture.
“Flowers convey positive messages kasi para sa mga Chinese kaya talagang inaalagaan nila from harvesting to packaging para i-send sa ibang bansa kung saan may order,” she said.
“Maganda ‘yong quality ng flowers nila at hindi ganoon kamahal katulad ng sa Holland at Ecuador. Affected kami noong nawala ang China flights kaya canceled lahat. Wala kaming flowers ngayon na dati bukod sa roses ay ginagamit namin galing China. Dati hindi ‘yon nagpra-price increase kapag Valentine’s Day kasi pang-fillers lang, pero ngayon doble,” she said.
However, Morato said she has no plans to increase the prices of her bouquets and flower arrangements because they already offered their old packages even before the nCoV became widespread and the cancellation of flights was implemented.
She said per bundle of Baguio roses costs P950 compared to China’s P1,200. But the difference is that flowers from China can all be used while those from Pines City have a lot that goes to waste.
“Ang laki ng diperensya sa size at ang laki ng diperensya sa tapon. Sa Baguio, 24 pieces, isang bundle ay P950, siguro ang magagamit mo doon ay 16 lang. Laging 16 kasi may maliit, minsan may putol. Sa China, madalang na maputulan ka ng isa because of the packaging so ako mas gusto ko ‘yong China flowers talaga,” Morato added.
Marife Sales, also one of the florists along Rizal Avenue, said she orders most of her flowers from Cebu as they could not buy from China due to the novel coronavirus.
“Sa Manila rin ngayon ay walang halos imported na flowers dahil doon sa China, dahil walang flight kaya wala silang cargo. Walang China roses ngayon na dumarating,” she said.
Unlike Morato who imports more imported varieties of flowers, Sales said only 10 percent of her flowers are outside the country that includes China roses.
Morato said despite the effect on their livelihood of the cancellation of flights, flowers will not be scarce for those who value the tradition of giving flowers to their loved ones as there are other alternatives.
Sunflowers are also in demand in flower arrangements, especially to the millennials. Classic flower arrangement styles full of roses, on the other hand, are in demand for most married couples.
Like carnation flowers, roses can be bought for P100 per stem while stargazers are offered at P350 per stem or P500 in a bouquet. Tulips, which are not really among the favored flowers during February 14, are sold at P200-P300 per stem.
Morato said that there are many students who are buying flowers during Valentine’s to give not just to their significant others but also for their relatives or teachers.
“Nakakatuwa na kahit mga estudyanteng bata, para sa nanay, maganda rin ang social media kasi dati, 20 years ko na ito ginagawa, noon sweethearts lang. Ngayon, pati teacher, pati nanay, nakakatanggap kapag Valentine’s. Ngayon halos lahat, even friends,” Morato said.
Aside from the usual flower bouquet given during Valentine’s, bloom box flowers are also one of the options for customers since blooms could last up to five days.
She said the budget is not a problem because they could adjust the arrangement, depending on what is affordable to customers. Some usual alternatives aside from flowers are chocolates and stuff toys to be.