NANNING, CHINA: Who would have thought that Philippine “roses” would be a hit at the 10th China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Expo (CAExpo)?
The “flowers,” made of dried leaves, come in different sizes and a variety of colors. They are sold by Emilia Fernandez, who manned her booth by herself, having flown to Nanning without a companion.
Of the many items on display during the exposition, Emilia’s flowers stood out because many visitors were seen clutching her roses around and outside the trading hall.
In fact, the dried flowers also outshone the other Filipino products on display such as pili nuts, organic rice, dried mangoes, woven scarves, coconut wine (tuba) and capiz shell decors.
Perhaps it was the pure simplicity of the handcrafted roses that attracted expo visitors. They may be common in the Philippines but here, the flowers are hot. They’re so popular that by Saturday, Emilia has sold all of her flowers.
“They are leaves, dried out in the sun, colored and carefully rolled into rose shape,” she told The Manila Times.
She took out a dried leaf which was desiccated for a week, and another which was already painted green, and showed how they are formed into flowers. She explained that the leaves are scoured, bleached and dyed. Weeds, corn husks and bamboo strips are also used. These are then crafted into flowers, rose being the favored bloom. Twigs are used as stems. Because the foliage have been preserved and dyed, the flowers appear “fossilized.” She said the flowers are made by poor women in her province.
Emilia’s flowers are sold at 15 yuan to 60 yuan, depending on the size. At P7.25 per yuan, 50 yuan is equivalent to P435.
Emilia, the proprietor of Maddela Flowers and Crafts based in Quirino province, is not new to the CaExpo. She attended the exposition last year after learning of the event through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, the export marketing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry.
But because she did not know if her flowers would be a hit, she only brought few stocks.
This year, she made sure that she had more flowers. Just the same, her stocks were sold out before the event closed on Saturday.
“I did not expect that it will attract many buyers,” Emilia beamed.
In the Philippines, she said that she only sees good income whenever there are trade fairs, school events, on Valentine’s Day or even during funerals.
“I usually earn a minimal of P10,000 in the Philippines when there are activities,” she said as she prepared to close her booth.
And her earnings during the four-day Chinese expo? More than P100,000.
“Maganda ang kita. Bawi na kami,” Emilia said.