DESPITE a few jeepneys spewing exhaust fumes, the famed flower market along the intersection of Dos Castillas and Laong Laan streets maintains its redolence nonetheless. The refreshing scent emanating from its merchandise, spread all over the concrete floor, breezes in, a counterbalance to the polluted air of Manila’s confounding chaos.

As the week of February 14 comes along, people flock to Dangwa flower market, briskly walking back and forth and canvassing prices for their orders which eventually become tokens of their romantic affections on Valentine’s Day.

Even if most Filipinos nowadays may opt to send messages to their loved ones through smart phones and social media, there are still those who prefer the romantic gesture of flower-giving.

A 10-minute walk from the University, Dangwa lures buyers of flowers, including students of neighboring universities and schools. Its countless varieties of flowers and cheap prices offered by the vendors are among the reasons why some choose to buy in this flower market and not from other cities and commercial florists in malls.

The market is filled with artfully arranged bouquets, orchids of different colors, farm-fresh carnations, peonies, mums, stargazers, among others. These flowers are often sold by retail or bulk.

Julius Villavieja, a 3rd year Journalism student, is a frequent buyer at Dangwa. He buys flowers whenever he visits his girlfriend.

“Filipinos nowadays could not express their emotions eloquently and romantically using words. We put our love in the objects that we buy and hope that the person we give
it to understands,” Villavieja said.

Villavieja emphasized that it is not the flower that makes its receiver special “but the toil behind being able to afford it.”

“It’s about not following the regular allocated expenses for food, load, fare, and others, to be able to save enough for a bouquet or even just a stem,” he said.

Dangwa flower market is named after a transportation company (Tranco) owned by Samuel Martin Dangwa, a former representative of Benguet. It was once an eight-vendor roadway in the 1980s which eventually transformed into hundreds of stalls.

Dangwa Tranco, which connects Manila to the Cordillera region, began as a company dedicated to the transportation of beans, strawberries, carrots and potatoes grown by the Benguet farmers to Manila everyday.

Now, Dangwa’s buses are transporting flowers from Baguio to Manila and the area around the terminal on J. Marzan Street.

As the flower market bloomed for years with the increasing number of flower vendors, many sellers have subscribed to suppliers other than Baguio; they even import flowers from China, Holland and Korea.

Since then, the retail industry in Dangwa prospered steadily in becoming a destination in finding flowers as presents in special occasions including birthdays, weddings, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

In 2006, Manila mayor Lito Atienza declared Dos Castillas the “flower market of Manila.” He also made the place more consumer-friendly by setting up large tulip-shaped lampposts in the middle of a brick-tiled road covering the two blocks of Dos Castillas, giving customers enough space to move between stalls without the need of crossing streets.

The peak seasons in Dangwa are February, May, and November. Prices are driven because
of big demand.

Russ Terrence Dumo, a Nursing alumnus, said one should give flowers to one’s loved one before Valentine’s Day as prices usually spiked up on that day.

“Flower-giving is really important, especially on Valentine’s Day since it has also
been practiced universally,” he said. “When you give flowers, it doesn’t matter where you buy them. Valentine’s Day is not only about giving things—it’s about love.”

A canvasser may buy pre-arranged bouquets ranging from P300 to P700 on normal days. The prices double up, sometimes triple, and even more during these annual occasions, making it more pragmatic for customers to order in advance, especially those buying in wholesale or in bulk. However, the prices also drop significantly when the peak days end.

Flowers, for most Filipinos, never fail to make the receiver of any age feel special. Whatever message the giver wants to convey, flowers have become a desirable thing rendered with meanings to express passionate feelings.

The Dangwa flower market has played a significant role among Filipinos—a steady supplier of flowers, a staple go-to place especially during Valentine’s Day.


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