Senators approved on third and final reading the bill that declares the Waling-waling orchid as a national flower apart from Sampaguita last Monday.

Outgoing Senator Edgardo Angara, who sponsored the measure in the Senate said the bill will remind Filipinos about its natural beauty, one that is admired all over the world.

“Orchid lovers all over the world consider the waling-waling as one of the most unique and beautiful native orchids in the world,” Angara said.

Senator Loren Legarda, the author of the bill, agreed that declaring the flower touted as the queen of Philippine orchids would increase Filipinos’ engagement to our national symbols.

“Our national symbols are vital to our identity as Filipinos. As we discover more about ourselves, we must also update the symbols that represent us,” Legarda explained.

Legarda, who also co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 5655 that sought to declare Waling-waling orchid as national flower together with sampaguita, would also put the orchid species under protection.

Legarda said there are threats to the survival of Waling-waling orchids, which are endemic in Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga provinces.

“As the flowers that grow and thrive in the wild are harvested for commercial and decorative purposes, and their habitat is destroyed by deforestation,” Legarda explained.

“(This bill) will place the Waling-Waling under protection, as it will mandate the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to promulgate rules and regulations for conserving and propagating the Waling-Waling orchid together with Sampaguita,” she added.

The National Museum of the Philippines earlier confirmed Waling-waling as indigenous and endemic to our country, while the Sampaguita is native to India and Arabia.

A similar bill has already been passed in the House of Representatives earlier last year.

Waling-Waling has become the most sought-after flower in Mindanao for its large and colorful hybrids.

It blooms only between July and October every year but the continuous picking of this prized specimen has brought it to near-extinction, the National Museum of the Philippines told congressmen.

source