SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique - The world's biggest flower Rafflesia Speciosa is in bloom in the municipality of Sibalom, Antique but in rare form.
Engr. Jonathan de Gracia, general manager of the Sibalom Water District and an environmental enthusiast, received a picture of two blooming flowers of the Rafflesia speciosa in the upland area of Barangay Bad-as, which is about 22 kilometers from the Sibalom town proper on Thursday.
"The two Rafflesia flowers are quite rare because they bloomed at the same time and intertwining with each other," he said in an interview.
He said that the Rafflesia, which blooms only after nine months, could rarely be found only in one spot that is why the local folks in Barangay Bad-as were surprised by their latest discovery.
The reddish-orange color Rafflesia speciosa could expand up to 56 centimeters (22 inches) in diameter when in full bloom that is why it's considered the world's biggest flower.
It was first discovered by a group of conservationists -- Antique Outdoors (AOs) at the Sibalom Natural Park in Mt. Poras in 2000.
"A botanist from Barangay Egana, Sibalom Dr. Julie Barcelona, who knew about the AOs discovery of the exotic flower, then made a study about the flower and named it as Rafflesia speciosa," he said.
Dr. Barcelona who works at the Philippine National Herbarium (PNH) of the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila discovered that the species only thrived in Sibalom.
De Gracia said that the species in Sibalom was indeed rare although there are also Rafflesia flowers in other countries.
"Dr. Barcelona named the flower speciosa because it is special," de Gracia said.
He said that since the flower was first discovered growing in Sibalom, then the municipality also adopted it as its municipal flower.
Through time, however, other towns in the province such as San Remigio also discovered that Rafflesia speciosa also grows in their upland areas.
Nicolasito Calawag, Antique Office of the Provincial Agriculture chief, said in a separate interview that although the flower blooms year-round, they produce more usually during the rainy season.
"Usually, there are more Rafflesia speciosa in bloom like this September or during the rainy season," he said. (PNA)